The Top 10 most-read spiked articles ever
From Lisa Simpson porn to ‘denialism’ and overpopulation, here’s what our readers have been clicking on and enjoying.
Here’s an anniversary question: What do people who read spiked actually read? Which 10 articles, from the sacred-cow slaying, thought-provoking 10,000 or so articles published over the past 10 years, have been most popular?
Before I reveal the answers in no particular order, a caveat: the piece of analytics software we’ve had installed on spiked to measure web traffic has only been there since the beginning of 2007. This means there’s a considerable bias towards articles published since 2007. Still, regardless of lies, damned lies and web traffic stats, one thing is still crystal clear: spiked readers have impeccable taste. If the popularity of certain spiked articles is any indication, there is a thirst out there in the online ether for challenging argument and uncompromising principles – giving the lie to the snobbish belief that the internet would automatically dumb down our intellectual life.
For example, take two articles in spiked’s Top 10 most-read: ‘The tyranny of science‘ and ‘Scientists should never be censored’. Here we have evidence that tens of thousands of people have searched out and read, first, a vigorous, necessary assault on the use of ‘The Science’ to quell dissent and debate and, second, a stinging rebuke to those cowards who, in 2007, wanted to silence rather than challenge Nobel Laureate James Watson’s trite, semi-racist views about Africans’ intelligence. Two smart, intelligent articles sticking up for free speech and intellectual courage. And loads of people wanted to read them.
Admittedly, I’d wager that intellectual stimulation has not been the only thing that has drawn internet users spiked’s way. Emily Hill’s 2006 foray into London Fashion Week, ‘“We Use Healthy Girls With Tits”‘, which just missed out on a top-10 spot, attracted a hefty number of possibly salivating users no doubt looking to exercise their groins rather than their minds. None of this will be news to unscrupulous search-engine optimisers, I’m sure. Put ‘porn’ or ‘tits’ on a client’s website and you can easily generate a massive increase in their web traffic. Not that many of those viewers will hang around once they realise that ‘“It looks like Lisa Simpson giving head”’ is in fact an excoriating critique of the 2012 Olympics logo and not an example of cartoon erotica. Still it has been enough to push this, a fascinating article in its own right by spiked’s very own designer Martyn Perks, into the Top 10 of spiked’s most-read articles.
But, Lisa Simpson, 100% Uncensored aside, the Top 10 of spiked’s most-read merely confirms what we at spiked have long believed. That there is an appetite for articles that take their readers seriously, that are prepared to challenge all that is retrograde and anti-human about contemporary political and social life, no matter how right-thinking such attitudes appear. Take, for instance, another article in the Top 10, ‘Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech’. Written in 2006 by spiked editor Brendan O’Neill, it brought attention to the tendency to brand any dissenter from the global warming narrative as a ‘denier’. This tactic, an attempt to place dissenters in the company of Holocaust deniers, seeks to denigrate by association. O’Neill argued that what the whole global warming issue needed was a free and open debate, ‘a human-centred discussion of priorities and solutions’.
Another article in spiked‘s Top 10 is equally as incisive. At the beginning of 2009, as the war in Gaza prompted an excited overspill of anti-Israeli sentiment in the West, Frank Furedi discerned a worrying shift: anti-Israeli sentiment, replete in baby-eating imagery, was not only morphing into a more general resentment towards all things Jewish, but it was going virtually uncahllenged. And it was this that he took to task in ‘After Gaza: what’s behind 21st-century anti-Semitism’. ‘The most worrying dynamic in Europe today’, Furedi wrote, ‘is not the explicit vitriol directed against Jews by radical Muslim groups or far-right parties, but the new culture of accommodation to anti-Semitism’.
spiked’s Top 10 most-read also shows that despite the nay-sayers’ worst prognoses, the internet hasn’t necessarily reduced people’s concentration spans to peanut-sized chunks. In fact, as the popularity of the spiked review of books shows, readers are keen for longer, essay-length pieces. Jennie Bristow’s 2008 book review ‘Untying the “ribbon culture”’, a top tenner, is a subtle, nuanced analysis of the contemporary predilection for wristbands and ribbons. Looking at examples of such expressions of ‘awareness’ from pink breast cancer awareness ribbons to Lance Armstrong wrist bands, Bristow noted that ‘the more that awareness ribbons have become a must-have accessory, the more they have become All About Ourselves’, a means of expressing oneself, of expressing one’s identity as a victim.
Where ‘Untying the Ribbon Culture’ turned an eye on the contemporary culture of narcissism, Daniel Ben-Ami’s ‘Towards an age of abundance’, another Top 10 article, turned its critical fire on what we would recognise now as the politics of austerity. Written in 2007, it is a trenchant, 3,000-word defence of economic growth in the face of a clamour for self-imposed limits, a defence that has only become all the more timely in the four years since it was first published.
Nathalie Rothschild’s interview with US-based Christian Lander, author of book and blog Stuff White People Like, has also proved very popular with spiked readers. ‘The very funny Stuff White People Like holds up an unflattering mirror to upper middle-class liberals’, writes Rothschild. ‘You know the type: dressed in shorts and Free Tibet t-shirts, they drive their Obama bumper sticker-adorned Toyota Priuses – iPods blazing “black music that black people don’t listen to anymore” – to their local farmer’s markets.’
O’Neill’s assault on the rising tide of the neo-Malthusian, overpopulation lobby, ‘Too many people? No, too many Malthusians’, has also been a big hit with readers. Given the increasing frequency with which overpopulation, and correspondingly the finitude of the earth’s resources, is being cited as the number one threat now facing the human species, justifying a whole heap of oppressive, borderline racist proposals, spiked‘s is an intervention that appears ever more necessary – and bright web-surfers seem to recognise that, clicking in great numbers on our challenge to modern-day population scaremongers.
spiked editor-at-large Mick Hume wrote several stirring pieces about the disappearance of four-year-old Madeleine McCann, looking at the disproportionately central role it played in British national life during 2007. One of these, from August of that year, ‘The increasingly strange case of Madeleine McCann’, is another of our most-read articles. Here Hume reflects on the eagerness of so many to express something, whether sympathy or antipathy, towards the desperate McCann family. ‘This has gone far beyond normal expressions of sympathy into the realm of emotional exhibitionism’, he noted.
So there you have it, a list of the most-viewed and, in most cases, the most-read articles published on spiked over the past 10 years (give or take a few).
Tim Black is senior writer at spiked.
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