What Do People Really Think of Sanjaya?

Nielsen BuzzMetrics wanted to know what people really think when they think about Sanjaya, the onetime faux-hawked American Idol contestant. So here, according to Max Kalehoff, is what they did: “We took a sample of all the blog posts about American Idol over a week, then focused on keyword sanjaya, then mapped out all the most closely associated words and phrases, based on proximity, frequency, and contextual relevance.”

Here’s what the Sanjaya mind-map looks like:


A new study shows that by 2022 Indians will surpass Jews in popularity.


I think this would be more interesting if compared to BuzzMetrics of the other contestants, By itself, it is difficult to draw conclusions of his chances of winning Idol.


Can you imagine being at a dinner party with a bunch of yuppies in a really trendy place like NYC and someone asking you what you do for a living and you respond that you work for Nielsen Buzzmetrics. And then as they are wont to do they ask what you are currently doing there and you have to say that you worked all week making one of Buzzmetric's patented “Brand Association Maps” featuring Sanjaya.

And then as the hush comes over the crowd someone asks you “well, ok, what did it show?” And then you have to say, “well, it showed that Sanjaya is most closely linked to the words bad, hair, simon, and Howard Stern”.

Do you think they will still respect you in the morning?


I'll bet they have had to hose off the number crunchers at Buzzmetrics before they work themselves into a frothy lather between Imus, Anna Nicole, and Sanjaya going on lately....sheesh

After seeing this chart, I feel like I just went to the bathroom on my own brain.


Ever so slightly off topic . . . does anyone know what the geographic relation is? I understand the relationship form the center, but what about spatially on the graph?


I suspect the "nasally" attribute refers to Richardson, who is.

Interesting, too, how few of the booted contestants made the graph - just Haley, who was the last to go, and Chris Sligh, who was considered the frontrunner earlier this season.

And who's "Owen"?


Sorry Ckuchy, this is a really really complex area of math involving parametrical cononical push/pull statistical ringing impulse functions. Probably can't really be understood without at least a post-doc in same. Fortunately, I do have one of those.

But briefly the geographical complexity of the graph relates to the 4-dimentional complex pull of the four poles, contestants, celebrities, attributes, and judges/host. These poles “ring” when hit (impulsed) by one of the key words. The amount of ring is the distance from the middle and hence places the parameter at said distance using, what most people, think of as a bunch of hocus pocus statistics, but are really just multi-dimensional space time coordinates.

One interesting aspect….note how the 4 directions are slighting askew from the N,S, E and W. This is important to show Sanjaya is also slightly tilted to win the over all competition based on the Chicago betting markets.



I must admit that I am participating in a plot to get Sanjaya to win. When I explained to me why everyone was doing it, I had to agree. American Idol bases the first half of the season on making fun of those that don't have any talent and then towards the end of the season, they switch gears and want to celebrate the real talent, after humiliating so many others. So, people thought it would be funny if they didn't switch gears and voted for someone that might not have a lot of talent. There are a few websites devoted to this cause.


I'm not sure if everyone is informed on this, but I'll post it anyway. Sanjaya is the main beneficiary of an attempt to game the American Idol system. The website with all of the info is below. Apparently they just pick whichever performer they feel has the least chance of winning and rally around him/her to strike back at the malicious American Idol producers. So perhaps his chances of winning will have little to do with what the blogosphere thinks about him and more about what the incredibly niche, yet apparently powerful, sphere of people who watch and vote on American Idol but don't like the show/care about its integrity



I have heard the Howard Stern was attempting to disrupt the American Idol system by having his "loyal" listeners participate in the vote for the worst campaign, but aside from the undue benefits bestowed upon a potentially untalented performer, what harm could this have on the show?

Are there truly enough people willing to spend their time voting for a participant that they wish to see lose because a Web site (or pseudo-celeb) told them how to vote?

What am I missing?


The problem with this map is that it does not provide us enough real context. For example, "talent" is in the inner core (attribute pole), but we do not know how many of those were part of "lack of", "no", "even though he does not have", as well as possibly "has a lot of", "talent for dressing up", etc. That is, how do I map the meaning of those words, given that the sentence that contained them could be very important? We can assume it was related to singing talent, but it could be that many were focused on his talent for self-promotion - a very different kind of talent. It is too easy to draw conclusions. Obviously one could draw a conclusion about why "Howard Stern" is there (he has been trying to get people to vote for the worst), but that could be wrong too. It could be that some were simply saying that Sanjaya is a show-boater like Howard Stern.
I realize this is all harmless entertainment fluff anyway, but it seems to me that we risk letting these kinds of maps influence us more and more. Rigor should be used. Traditionally, mind-maps were based on careful pre-analysis of word usage and key phrases (with some variations allowed). Nielsen seems to have dropped that in favor of allowing more automation and less "AI" or human involvement.



nothing has anything to do with Sanjaya
the protest is over the producers of American Idiot pick some of the worst just for the early ratings , lets face it with any decent screening these would be weeded out ...imagine profiting by making fun of others of less ability , l would be rich if l just could follow egretman around for a few days


Although Vote For The Worst is happy to take credit for Sanjaya's success, they probably don't command enough votes to make a difference. Here's a lengthy analysis of VFTW's picks over the years and concludes that their "support" doesn't keep contestants on the show: http://www.realitytvcalendar.com/recaps/ai6/commentary/jd-04-09-07-p1.html


I would just like to say that the book was one of the main reasons I am interested in economics now as a student. I am currently a junior in high school and I am planning on majoring in economics in college. The wonderful methodology described in the book makes me even more intrigued by the wonderful social science and I very much applaud Levitt's ingenuity behind the book.


Thanks, egretman!


Any reason 'Hunger Strike" is so close to the middle? I haven't heard anything about hunger strikes...


a young girl went on the vote for the worst web site and was pissed off that they wanted sanjaya she said she was going on a hunger strike till he left the show ......and yes vote for the worst does have a huge following but mainly is college campus's that control the vote .....maybe though we could vote people off this site ...egretman or RandyfromCanada

bet l go quick u Yankees stick together .....



Thanks for sharing our Brand Association Map. There's been some questions here in the comments about our analysis of Sanjaya, a campy character, to be sure. We believe such analysis of American Idol and Sanjaya provides interesting perspective on a relevant, pop-culture phenomenon. It's an interesting, mainstream topic for which to showcase new and useful methods of data visualization, which our brand-marketer and media clients are employing more and more.

From a pragmatic standpoint in the market-information industry, such analysis and visualization of unprompted, natural consumer expression can achieve three important objectives: First, it identifies gaps between marketer's ideals of how customers think about their brands, and how customers really think about those brands. Secondly, the map can quickly demonstrate relationships (or lack thereof) which are directionally insightful and present critical brand questions that marketers may have never dreamed of asking in the first place; it can suggest where to probe. Third, the map is visually stimulating and intuitive, and therefore has the power to captivate and effectively communicate data not only to the statistically astute, but to organizational stakeholders who either are only interested in the summary view (i.e., busy CEOs), or just won't or can't translate numbers.

No single visualization is a final conclusion, but this technique contributes massively to interpretation and application of data.

If any of your readers are interested in learning more about our Brand Association Maps, including methodology, I'm happy to explain in depth. I can be reached at max (dot) kalehoff (at) buzzmetrics (dot) com


Max Kalehoff
Nielsen BuzzMetrics



One thing must be said….Max and Buzzmetrics are justifiably proud..

While America no longer makes cars and ships and hoola hoops, new Information Technologies such as “Brand Association Maps” are quickly replacing these old déclassé products in our export stream. Thus providing millions of Americans with high value meaningful jobs befitting America's status in the new post-industrial post-modern economy.



some blogger threatened to go on a hunger strike until Sanjaya got kicked off (it's amazing what will inflame peoples passions). She quit after a week though.