Sunday, August 03, 2008

Menstruation and the Origins of Culture

That's the title of the thesis submitted by Chris Knight for his PhD at the University College, London, which was later published as a book by Yale University Press. Chris is a professor of Anthropology at the University of East London and a founding member of the Radical Anthropology Group. This thesis presents and tests a new theory of human cultural origins, and forms an interesting read. I've already downloaded it and have started digging my teeth into the 530-page tome.

Christopher Denis Knight mentions in his 32-page CV that he worked as a postman/van driver for the Post Office before studying anthropology. His list of publications counts at 43 now, 12 of which were jointly authored. His thesis was a reconsideration of early twentieth French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss's work on symbolism and truth, and no, that's not the cloth manufacturer.

With that overdose of trivia, let me come to the point. The aforementioned thesis is in .doc format, has been 'reviewed' the MS-Word way, and is available only on the author's official website. It has a reviewed spelling error correcting protohumen to protohuman. So, when I run a google search for protohumen, that is the single place on the world-wide-web (Ok, before I mention that a thousand times on this blog) referring the word. does not find the word either, but gives Google reference to the same Word document, still abiding by the Googlewhack rules of having a link to for each word.

Add one of the 7,114 distinct words from the document (out of a total of 185,108 words) and run a Google search, and you have a googlewhack! The whack engine is smart enough and does not let you record whacks with the same word more than if you use it excessively, four times in an hour, but technically you have plenty of whacks for you unless someone else picks up.

So this is another loophole in whacking. There are now four ways to record whacks:

Method 1 :

  • Find a pair of words resulting in zero Google search results.
  • Create a web page with the two words.
  • Wait for your page to get indexed by Googlebot.
  • Record your whack on the stack as soon as it appears on Google results.
  • I used my previous post to record my first whack using this method:
             triskaidekaphobia dancegoers
Method 2 :
  • Find a single word that gives a single search result on Google, and gives a link for definition on the right. I believe you can only get non-existent words this way.
  • Scan that document for distinct words (Ping me for the java application I wrote to get the above count of 7,114). You can do a few hundreds manually too.
  • Club those distinct words with the master word, one at a time, and record four whacks, after which you wouldn't be allowed.
  • Come back after an hour a couple of days to use the same 'uniwhack' again.
  • I whacked the following using this hack:
             sexual protohumen
             traditional protohumen
             protohumen cosmology
             coherent protohumen
             peasanties forestry
             peasanties oblivion
             peasanties scourge
             ragged bildungsromen
             bildungsromen emerald
             bildungsromen asses
             bildungsromen kush
Method 3 :
  • Try pairs of words from already existing whacks, you have many combinations possible; they've already recorded 610,000 whacks, out of which the latest 2,000 are visible.
  • I 'copied' to record these couple of couples:
             spreadably outcry
             insidious spreadably
Method 0 :
  • Try pairs of rare, unrelated words (opposites are related; unrelated words would be from entirely different spheres). This is the actual intention of whacking.
  • I could do a few couples this old-fashioned way too:
             linguaphiles endoderm
             linguaphiles pachyderm
             lactic linguaphiles
I am sure there are some other cheats you can discover to find whacks. I am done with my share of whacking, and none of the methods I mentioned above would work for the words I have in my whacks as soon as Googlebot crawls and indexes this page.


Amiya Shrivastava said...

Are you doing Ph.D on Googlewhacking??

Man I think this is called passion..or lemme say it's obsession!

I thought you were going to lemme know about menstruation thing.

All the methods are cool. lemme try them too!

Roli said...

oops!!! again on Whack... chalo theek hai.. mujhe to padhne ka time naihn milta or you can say, i dont have much interest to read these.. but surely I get some knowledge/interest through your blogs... [:)]

Ghost said...

Just a couple things.

First, try googling infundibulomata. Real word, single hit, known as a uniwhack or uni. Unfortunately, someone else got there before I did. I have gotten a real word uni in the distant past however, although it's very difficult to do now.

Second, a word will become unavailabie if you whack it three times in a short space of time (maybe an your, not sure). You can get in a fourth whack (maybe even more) if you do it quickly enough-before GW realizes what's going on. This is referred to as flacking a word, and it's rather irksome to whackers because the flacked word is actually unavailable for several days, not an hour as you stated.

Third, almost all whacks involve using a word sometimes referred to as a pivot word (or just pivot). This word is distinguished not so much by its rarity as by its not being widely included on word lists, which are the most important factor in making whacking difficult these days. If you really want to earn the respect of whackers, hunt down a new pivot word, preferably something potentially amusing like brainworms or sinkerballs. Finding pivots isn't easy, but it's not impossible either.

Fourth, most of the non-words you see whacked are aberrant plurals caused by glitchiness at One of these causes words ending in man to be pluralized to men. That's how I managed to find protohumen by extrapolation after noticing people whacking humen, lemen, romen, etc. The most interesting glitch, however, is the one where words ending in y are pluralized by deleting the preceding consonant and adding ies. Thus peasantry is pluralized as peasanties. This only works if the word ending y is at the top of the definition and doesn't explicitly list the plural form. When I discovered this glitch I got something like 9 unis in an hour or so. Gary deleted them all and has done his best to suppress the existence of the glitch, although I manage to sneak things like peasanties and foresties in once in a while now that he's let his guard down.

Anyway, just FYI.

Pleasant whacking,

Amiya Shrivastava said...

HAha Ghost loves you man..he liked ur way and want to see you whacking the standard way..

You are now welcomed to the whacking community..

gr8 job dude! It feels nice when you get a royal welcome!

ashes said...


No dude. It just happened that I discovered this amazing thesis, and Anthropology, unlike pure sciences, is easier to understand without being very clear with the fundamentals; and I thought it'd be good if I share this with all of you.

Re your second comment, whacking the standard way is difficult...Ghost accepted that and has used alternate fact, he could help me expand my list of methods :)

ashes said...


Yes, this is an interesting one. Try whacking, I would love to you see you in the whack stack sometime.

ashes said...


First: Thats a real achievement to get a uniwhack. Infundibulomata was still a uniwhack, till you mentioned that here :)

Second: Yes, it flacked it after my third this time. But, it doesn't get blocked for a few days. I could stack protohumen bildungsromen (from this very blog) even when protohumen was whacked at 29, 32, and 34 places ago on the stack, and bildungsromen at 28, 30, and 31 notches up; I guess these would be within a short span, maybe you could help getting the exact had tidewaiters lifo and yerkish grokking around the two three-whack-cases for protohumen.

Third: Agree on hunting down a pivot. Shall try finding some.

Fourth: I should have noticed the plural-behaviour; the y-ending words is really a glitch! As I mentioned in the comment to one of my whacks, needs to improve. I realise infundibulomata too is a plural :P

Thanks a lot Ghost. You really opened my eyes completely about whacking. Let me start whacking and stacking, and try not flacking.

Ghost said...

I'm pretty sure I'm right about the couple day flack rule, although it's always possible it's changed. I'll check protohumen again later today and test your hypothesis.

The thing I think you're not taking into account is that a word can be whacked three times in succession and not get flacked if sufficient time passes between each whack. The stack is often idle for hours at a time, so the appearance that a word has been whacked in quick succession can often be deceptive.


Shilpee said...

I thought its going to be medical gyan..but content of the post came as a complete surprise..

sounds interesting..hmm truly techie :)

ashes said...


Yeah check it later and let me know...though I doubt now because my last two whacks using protohumen have been GoogleLAKCed...

I stacked four whacks in succession last time. And this time, eight whacks are so close on the list, and I am sure I did not see them yesterday...

ashes said...


Sorry to disappoint you :).

However, I had originally intended split it up into two posts, one the anthropological way, and another about whacking. And now I have quite some medical gyan too, but obviously not enough to write a post.

Anonymous said...

Try to whack "ashes"

Example "ashes rejectivist"

Ghost said...

Googlelack just means that you whacked the same page twice and is meant to discourage people from mining a page containing a rare word for more whacks. Protohumen is still flacked, and I'm guessing it will be a day from now. I'll let you know.


Ghost said...

Oh, BTW, an anonymous whacker (I refer to him/her as invisiwhacker) flacked your name (ashes) just after you flacked protohumen. I assume it was a meant as a comment on your comment about flacking. Anyway, I don't think anyone will be whacking ashes again for a bit either.


ashes said...


Thanks, but I had observed invisiwhacker and his flacking of ashes. Let us how long does that remain a flack.

Ghost said...

Just noting that protohumen is still flacked, but guessing you knew that.

Anadi Misra said...

Deceptive title...Interesting topic, very interesting discussions...lage raho, aur karte raho gyaan-vardhan :)

ashes said...


Yes, the title is deceptive. Everyone who read it said that. I had wanted to split this up into two posts, but couldn't do that...hence merged the two posts to get a sharp turn :)

Ghost said...

Protohumen still flacked.

Saurabh said...

first i will need to google on whats google whack! :)
i have started to feel that i am getting out of touch with the hip and happening in tech world :(

ashes said...


Please read my previous post to get a detailed explanation of what a googlewhack is.

Ghost said...

Protohumen still flacked.

Anonymous said...


As I very recently mentioned on the whack stack before I found this site ... (I wish I'd found this site first because I'm concerned that my stack comment may add to the problem and make protohumen disappear.)

But I didn't know of another way to contact you and decided it was a calculated risk since you've made a couple comments about the misspelling of protohumen.

Gary, the site administrator, has mentioned several times that a lot of stuff he sort of lets slide "unless it is brought to his attention".

I cost us "nudzhs" by making a comment on stack about how it "nudzhs nudzhs" was a "doh" even though you could still use it. [Ordinarily once a uni is whacked like that it goes away forever: "permaflacked" we call it.] Nudzhs is now permaflacked. My fault. We lost all the "*beries" misspelling whacks and as ghost says we lost the y pluralizations by being too obvious.

A couple of words I argued with Gary in an email about ... and ended up with djta and djia being permaflacked. He'd let us use them before but because I "brought them to his attention" he permaflacked them. And djta was a word I had recorded 8 octos with ... I really hated to lose it. But it was just me being dumb (and stubborn :-).

He will let a lot of stuff sort of slide under the radar, but when something becomes an item for discussion, he feels he must take action and do something. I'm afraid we may lose protohumen permanently. Our only hope is that he really isn't paying much attention to the stack this weekend and the discussions about its spelling get buried quickly and not raised much again.

I found one (all on my own! :-)that was a great word: monasterries. Used it merrily and several folks also used it and thanked me for finding it. Then some "rare" whacker (someone who doesn't whack much ... I don't even know who they were or if they've been back) made a big deal about it being a misspelling and "poof" [sorry G :-)] it was gone. I could have strangled the guy that cost me that word! :-)

So ... from one who has learned the hard way [I *really* hated to lose djta and nudzhs and no one to blame but myself] ... just a word to the wise. Discretion about such things is valuable. We need words like protohumen and nudzhs!

[By the way, I didn't know you were doing a test when you first flacked protohumen. If you need to try something like that ... just say its a test. Most people have no problem with that. I do it every now and then. Even Gary ... will let me whack lists or whatever without a WORDLIST :-( notation if I say I'm testing something. And I wouldn't have done the "ashes, ashes, protohumen fell down" whack if you'd said you were testing something (although it was a pretty good whack so maybe I would have anyway :-)]

Just my two cents on calling misspellings to Gary's attention.

Oh. And yes ... words go away for at least a couple days if flacked from overuse [generally ~3x in an hour]. Here's the rule from the GW site under, of all things [:-)]: "Rules": "Excessive stacking of the same word may cause Whack to ban the word automatically for over 48 hours."

Thanks, Tucker

Andy said...

I should try one of your methods:

Dancegoers zyzzyva

ashes said...


Yeah, protohumen was flacked for four days! My bad, it doesn't get there only for an hour. I shall edit the post accordingly.


ashes said...


Firstly, thanks for the detailed explanation.

Well, protohumen is not permaflacked even after our stack comments about the spelling.

Even if it had, there are thousands of other words we could have used for flacking. But yes, it could have cost us a whole lot of misspelling whacks.

Nudzhs now gives 13 sites, including this one :) But djta and djia give 301,000 and 7.57 million search results!!! I see they are permaflacked....How and why did they get flacked?

I didn't know about the 'test' declaration. That is quite good a concept though, even from Gary's side.

Thanks again for these great insights. Glad that you contacted me this way. See, I don't have any means to contact you; you've put an anonymous comment and hence couldn't have subscribed to comments either. I think I'll have to rely on you coming back to this page and read it.

ashes said...


Great that someone's using my Method 1 using my site.

However, I see that zyzzyva has been flacked since the time you introduced those words together on the same page, even though I cannot see zyzzyva in the available whacklist of 2000 words. That means that too is permaflacked!

Maybe Ghost, if he gets this on email, can confirm.

Anonymous said...

Ashes -

Sorry, didn't know it made a difference to log in or to be anonymous. I've now signed up with an email address but that didn't seem to give me an ID on here. Nor do I check that email all that often, but it is there if you want to get ahold of me.

Couple of things. Yes, there are an indefinite number of words available. But only a few that have only a handful of hits and aren't on any lists. Nudzhs and protohumens are gems. Almost anyone can get a protohumen whack in seconds. Very handy! Nudzhs also, although I didn't realize it was now up to ... well Google has it at 17 "from my location". Even so, it was a great word. But yes, I was very relieved to see protohumen still alive!

Uh ... I hope that was a slip of the, um, fingers? "There are thousands of other words we can use for flacking". The goal is whacking not flacking! :-)

Djta and djia are words I relied on for octos. An octo is whacking two 4 letter words ... the shortest whacks possible. You don't see many of them and I think I probably hold the record for the all-time most :-) I passed 50 some time back. They are now permaflacked because they are "abbreviations" (actually acronyms)which is the same as a "misspelling" in the GW world. Because there are so many acronyms and abbreviations that are still accepted I kinda got into a little disagreement with Gary about it ... actually I guess the disagreement was about some other word that was permaflacked and I thought it shouldn't be and used djta and djia as examples of acronymns that *weren't* permaflacked. Results of the disagreement? They got permaflacked! :-) [Just my stubbornness - reminds me of the old quote about never get into a dispute with someone who buys ink by the barrel :-)]

[You learn a lot, btw, about all this stuff and, eg: that whole thing about pluses, if you read the rules and faq at the top of the whack page.]

Method one ... creating your own googlewhack is kind of a fun idea. I presume GW would figure it was a form of cheating but it doesn't bother me any. It just seems like way too much work. It only takes a few seconds to get a whack the legit way. [I did a whole page one night of whacks I got in under 30 seconds each. I didn't record any that took any longer than that. Didn't flack anything. No goolelacks and no lists. And it was easy. Going through all the trouble of creating one [unless it was just a totally awesome pun or something! :-)] just seems way too much trouble.

[And Ghost can whack at least that fast. He's just an anarchist by nature (you listening G :-)so likes to "bend" rules just for the sake of bending them. But he has no difficulty in finding a relevant whack in 30 seconds).

Which is really the point ... well, everyone has different points ... but just arbitrary whacks are pretty boring ... both to do and to read. Once you actually get seriously into it, you'll want to find whacks where both words are relevant to what you are wanting to say. Or are really clever in combination. [For a long time Ghost went by Not One Jot - NOJ - and never said anything *except* with his whacks. He could actually carry on a pretty decent real-time conversation with *only* whacks! Very impressive.

Method two: If you find a word that gives a single result on Google, you have a uniwhack ... the highest and greatest whack achievement (although G discovered and I was right there with him that if you use the misspelling glitch you can record unis like crazy. He did one tonight. We'll see if it is still there in the morning :-) Gary wiped out all the ones we did that way when first discovered. So, for it to be a "real" uni, it has to be a word spelled correctly. But finding one of those is the hardest thing you'll ever do whacking. [You'd be surprised how few even misspelled "single" results you can find that are accepted as a "word" by Google. Which is why a word like protohumen is so special.] But with 7000+ unique words, you don't really need to scan the list. Just try a few words and you'll hit quickly enough. And, if you don't scan the document or the wordlist you derived [which is called a googlelack if discovered] ... that is a perfectly legit whack method.

Method three is also perfectly legit. That's what we all do. Sometimes we'll find new words, but most of our whacks are recycling words that have been used many times. Generally one word of any prior whack is the "pivot" word which will whack with many others. You can't whack the same pair as was previously whacked [try it and you get a "doh" and it won't stack], but any unused combination is fair game.

Method four ... uh 0? :-) I'd never heard that the intention of whacking was to use words from unrelated spheres. Certainly nothing wrong with it, but I think the "intent" of whacking is just as satisfied by using closely related words. In fact, as mentioned, the ultimate is to use the same word: "protohumen protohumen". That's a uni. So, out of your four "cheats", three are perfectly legit and the fourth is just way too much trouble for someone as lazy as I :-) As far as I know [besides intentionally exploiting the misspelling glitches] the only way to cheat efficiently would be to write a program to deliver up googlewhacks. But those would just be random and semi-pointless. Like I say, the fun and much more interesting part of whacking is to find two words that relate to what you want to say, or that say something cool on their own, or that are an awesome pun [Hobo excels at this]. Arbitrary whacks are just too easy to bother cheating for! :-)

Finally ... and most importantly by far ... !!!: What whack list of 2000 available words??? Is there really such a list? What? ... 2000 pivot words? I've never bumped into such a thing. If it really exists I'd be fascinated to see what is on it. [Obviously you can whack more than 2000 words, so it must be ... well, I've got no idea. But I would love to see it and see what the theory of it is.]

Ok. I've yammered enough :-)

Later - Tucker

ashes said...


Well, it does not make much of a difference. The thing is, when you log in with your google account and then comment, and check the "Email follow up comments to my mail id", you receive an email for every comment that is posted on that particular post. So when I replied to your comment, had you commented the way some other people on the blog do (even Ghost), you'd have gotten notified that your there is a new comment on the post you were following; you did not have to come back to the blog to check. And I was not sure you'd come back to my blog to check out the reply.

Yeah sorry, I meant whacking and not flacking in "There are thousands of other words we can use for flacking".

That's a nice story about djta and djia. But is Gary the only person who administers and decides what is to be allowed and what not?

I realized my Method One is too much trouble. That was the first thing I did when I got introduced to the world of whacking!

Ghost and you seem to be veterans here. I see scores of whacks from you on every page of the whack stack! Kudos to you guys! Conversing in whacks is something I know I would never be able to do.

Being a rookie in whacking, my methods are methods to record the most number of whacks. And I realized that to minimize the number of search results, you need to have seemingly unrelated words. For example, a pair like "Hollywood movies" would return millions of results, whereas a pair like "Hollywood resorcinol" would return only a few hundreds. Yes, I agree, they might not mean anything, and be boring to whack as well as read.

You misinterpreted me at the list of 2000 words. Or maybe I did not put it clearly enough. By list, I meant the whack stack, which shows the most recent 2000 whacks. So what I meant was that I zyzzyva was not used for at least the latest 2000 whacks.

BTW, I just discovered 'unthunk'. I see that both you and Ghost are omnipresent there too. Let me explore more of unthunk...

ghost said...

Checked back and saw Tucker weighed in with his perspective on googlewhacking. I pretty much agree with everything he said, but wanted to add something to what he said about uniwhacks (unis). I have a theory about why protohumen and jabberwocies aren't permaflacked, and I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that neither is a real word. Granted this is only a theory and, being based on a sample size of 2, I'm far from sure that it's correct, but here goes. I think it might be significant that when I first whacked each word it came up 1-2 of 2. It was only after they'd been whacked that the count fell to 1-1 of 1 and I was able to get a uni. It makes me wonder if GW automatically checks a word the first time it's whacked, and, if it comes back 1-1 of 1, it's automatically permaflacked. If, on the other hand, it has more than 1 hit it's granted immunity from the automatic uni permaflack rule and is safe ever after (unless Gary takes a dislike to it). I agree that this isn't exactly logical, but lots of things about the way GW treats unis aren't logical. For instance, why are old unis, which now have dozens or possibly even hundreds of hits, still permaflacked? If no one had managed to find them until they appeared on 2 sites, they'd still be whackable now. Thus many potentially useful (not to mention fun) pivot words are permaflacked because of somewhat random events that may have occurred years ago. I prefer not to dwell on this because it pisses me off and takes some of the fun out of whacking, but just pointing out that permaflacking on GW is far from a logical process, and so my theory shouldn't be discarded based on the fact that it posits a fairly whacky permaflack protocol.

You might think I'm wasting words here, as it's unlikely anyone will be able to prove or disprove my theory. On the other hand, if one were to discover an aberrant plural that should be recognized by but was nowhere to be found by Google, one might do an interesting experiment. One might place the screwy plural on a searchable website by, oh for instance, entering it into a comments section like this one. Now if one were to chose a website that has a mirror (I'm not sure about terminology here as I'm not very web savvy, but it's pretty common to have a whack foiled by finding two sites that are almost identical, but not quite) and if that mirror only showed up part of the time on Google (which, for whatever reason, seems to be a not infrequent phenomenon) than one might wait until the word gave 1-2 of 2 and whack it a few times. Then when the mirror disappeared temporarily it would be possible to get a uni and (if I'm right) the permaflack rule wouldn't kick in. Just a thought.

Anyway, Happy whacking.

ashes said...


Your theory of uniwhacks looks quite possible. There is one glitch that I see though--If anything that comes 1-1 of 1 gets permaflacked, and anything that has more than 1 initially is permanently immune from the permaflack rule, GW has to maintain a cache of all uniwhacks, which is never updated. In fact, it would mean every word is cached (even those with 1-2 of 2), and no word is checked a second time for permaflacking. Your logic about uniwhacks still permaflacked even when they return dozens/hundreds of hits makes perfect sense though.

SO basically your theory might be correct, but I cannot imagine how is it implemented. If they have a cache, they can (and should) easily refresh it periodically.

Your experiment is a good one. And we do not even need a mirror site for that. You could enter the same words on two different pages, basically comments on two different posts. And after google indexes them and you record a few whacks, we can delete one of the comments. And unlike googlewhack, google refreshes its searchable index quite frequently, so within a day you might be able to start recording uniwhacks.

Please go ahead and use my blog if you have any such word for experimenting. I am sure that will work.

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