[Puzzleblogger Kevan Choset, August 2, 2005 at 12:13pm] Trackbacks
Statistically Improbable Phrases:

A few months ago, began listing "Statistically Improbable Phrases" ("SIPs") for certain books. These are phrases that appear in a book disproportionately to how often they appear in the rest of the books in Amazon's database. (By comparing the phrases to the rest of the database, Amazon gets rid of common contentless phrases like "the man said," etc.)

Try to identify the ten books whose SIPs are listed below. (Simply googling each list will readily provide the answer... so don't do that.)

  1. tyrannosaur roared, soft hooting cry, big rex, duckbilled hadrosaurs, little raptor, two raptors, lizard bites, basilisk lizard, east dock, fifteen species

  2. cilice belt, lame saint, seeded womb, lettered dials, corporal mortification, rosewood box, sacred feminine, royal bloodline, stone cylinder, sweater pocket

  3. roque mallet, hedge lion, hedge animals, roque court, hotel truck, inhuman place, concrete ring, batwing doors, bug bomb, mallet head, brass nozzle, silk wallpaper, wiped his lips

  4. gun show loophole, car tags, assault weapons ban, independent counsel law, defense downsizing, family leave law, people from welfare

  5. social epidemics, transactive memory, mouth epidemics, teenage smoking

  6. belt sewer, whole barricade, big sou, vocal mothers, little barricade, two barricades, forty sous, sixteen sous, fifteen sous, detracted nothing, fifteen hundred francs, thirty sous, assassinated man, eighty francs, fifteen francs, four sous, hundred livres, twenty sous, making cartridges

  7. least black boy, bull goose loony, day room door, big black boys, wicker bag, three black boys, ward policy, drug room, tub room, two black boys, dorm door, red capsules

  8. certiorari before judgment, agriculture languishes, popularly elected branches, oral advocate, junior justice, senior associate justice, packing plan, eight colleagues, petitions for certiorari

  9. hibiscus plant, old professor

  10. original public meaning, commerce that occurs, unenumerated liberties, moderate originalism, procedural assurances, first come rights, unenumerated rights, regulate commerce among the states, assurances that the laws, judicial nullification, originalist interpretation, rightful activity, natural liberty rights, latitudinarian interpretation, trade with foreign nations, enumerated end, state ratification conventions, bounded freedom, signal bleed, meaningful scrutiny, lawmaking system, constitutional construction, bank speech, rightful conduct, state law rights

Atlee Breland:
1) Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
2) Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code
5) Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
8.2.2005 1:18pm
Shelby (mail):
Atlee beat me on 1 and 2. I think he means 6, not 5. And would 10 be Randy Barnett's "Restoring the Lost Constitution," which I must sheepishly admit I haven't yet read?
8.2.2005 1:23pm
I agree with the previous comments on 1, 2 and 10. I think 8 is Men in Black and I'm going to guess that 4 is Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country.
8.2.2005 1:26pm
A Dull Boy:
#3 is The Shining by Steven King
8.2.2005 1:33pm
MatthewP (mail):
#5--"The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell
8.2.2005 1:40pm
#4 "My Life" by Bill Clinton
8.2.2005 1:41pm
Dubner (www):
#7 is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Previous guesses on #1, #3, and #6 are all right, and I think JonC is right on #4 -- My Life?
8.2.2005 1:48pm
Rebellwyr (mail):
#8: either the brethren: woodward, or the supreme court: rehnquist
8.2.2005 2:07pm
Kevan Choset (mail):
You have them all except for #9, which I expected would be the hardest. It can be figured out.

Here are the correct answers so far:
1) Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
2) The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown
3) The Shining, Stephen King
4) My Life, Bill Clinton
5) The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
6) Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
7) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
8) The Supreme Court, William Rehnquist
9) ???
10) Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett
8.2.2005 2:16pm
Glen Campbell (mail) (www):
#9 - Tuesdays with Morrie
8.2.2005 2:16pm

The fact that it works backwards appears to be pretty good evidence that the statistically improbably phrase system will be a fairly effective searching tool.

8.2.2005 4:34pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
I would have thrown Huckleberry Finn in there as well. The Right Stuff is fairly interesting, too.

SIPs: human holster, hide out over the edge, landing bag switch, hydrogen peroxide thrusters, whup whup whup whup whup (more)

(I only bring this up because I read both recently.)

- Alaska Jack
8.2.2005 5:32pm
David W Neylon (mail) (www):
I find it somewhat interesting that I got 1, 2, and 6 and hadn't even read the last two. Sorry, I'm just an SF/Fantasy snob.
8.2.2005 7:59pm
Kevan Choset (mail):
Alaska Jack,
Oddly enough, I actually had The Right Stuff in there (I read it recently as well), but bumped it to make room for Rehnquist.
8.2.2005 11:31pm
dantes (mail) (www):
I got most of the fiction as that is what I tend to read. I have to concur with Ken -- the ease with which the SIPs can be reverse engineered, for lack of a better term, speaks well of its utility as a means of finding long lost favorites. I'm now going to try and hunt up a long-ago favorite book the title and author of which have eluded me for years. Neatpuzzle, Kevin.
8.4.2005 7:03pm