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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Pietroni, P. (1996). Whitmont, Edward C. The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books for Homeopathic Educational Services, 1993. Pp. ix + 240. $14.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 41(1):145-147.

(1996). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 41(1):145-147

Whitmont, Edward C. The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books for Homeopathic Educational Services, 1993. Pp. ix + 240. $14.95.

Review by:
Patrick Pietroni

Whitmont belongs to that band of authors he liberally quotes from, Capra, Bohm, Sheldrake, Rossi, Shah, Lovelock, Wilber Talbot, who have in the last twenty years attempted to redefine a post-quantum world view of health: a view that draws links with Paracelsus, the I Ching and Jung's workings on alchemy, synchronicity and the collective unconscious. Whitmont writes:

According to this viewpoint reality is contacted not only through the physical senses but more essentially through deep practice of meditation and instruction. Consciousness is to be considered the original cause rather than the end-product of material evolution.

The argument, which is well-known to those versed in new-age thinking, includes the holographic view of materiality, the re-emergence of the Aristotelian notion of formal causation, Teilhard de Chardin's ‘entelechy’ and Bohm's ‘implicate order’. These arguments lead Whitmont to conclude:

the existence of a world organism of potential archetypal order and information which moulds the shape and functioning of visible bodies through a symbiotic interplay of all levels of existence including our emotions, mind and consciousness.

To this cosmic soup, Whitmont adds the ‘science’ of homoeopathy. He describes its two major principles, ‘law of similar’ and the ‘microdose potentized remedies’, in language that in his view clearly links it to his post-quantum understanding of the universe. The dilutions used in homoeopathy which result in no molecules being present in the final substance are, according to Whitmont, ‘not a dilution in the ordinary sense, but another, as yet unknown dispersion of the substance which while “dema-terializing” on the molecular level preserves its specific dynamic characteristics and intensifies its energetic change’.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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