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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.

Ahlskog, G. (2007). Book Reviews: A Violent God-Image: An Introduction to the work of Eugen Drew-Ermann. By Matthias Beier. New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2004, xi + 388 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(2):341-345.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(2):341-345


Book Reviews: A Violent God-Image: An Introduction to the work of Eugen Drew-Ermann. By Matthias Beier. New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2004, xi + 388 pp.

Review by:
Gary Ahlskog, Ph.D.

After years of reading about Adam and Eve, I thought I knew this story, but I was wrong. Because indoctrination and habit foster the propensity for negative hallucination, we may stare at texts like this, foundational to self-understanding in the Western world, yet fail to see what actually is being said. A misreading of Genesis will be cleared up shortly. Our field owes a debt of gratitude to Eugen Drewermann, who may be the most important thinker in the field of religion and psychoanalysis during the past century, and to Matthias Beier, who has translated and explained Drewermann's ideas in what may be the most important English book on religion and psychoanalysis during the past century.

Freud's genius in recognizing the illusion of a God-image at odds with human growth and enjoyment is not diminished merely because his interpretation is backward. The God-image Freud analyzed so astutely was indeed a projection of humanity's own narcissistic needs and oedipal conflicts. Yet as Drewermann shows, neurotic efforts to appease this God is exactly what Christianity seeks to save us from. Freud mistook a familiar paranoid misreading of the text for the text itself. He analyzed as supposedly caused by Christianity an obsessional neurosis which in actuality interferes with being able to recognize Christianity. He was hardly alone. We barely see the biblical text because of resistance fueled by fear—of exclusion, of authority, and of our own projected images of a God hostile to our happiness. The following paragraph provides a closer reading of the Fall, based on commentary from Drewermann and Beier (pp. 33-127):

Eve had to rely on Adam to understand Eden, since God delivered the groundrules to Adam before creating Eve (Gen 2: 16-22, all texts are from the New Revised Standard Version). The serpent's beguiling consists of misstating these groundrules (Gen 3:1), thereby confusing Eve as to whether she can trust that her relationship to God is intact.

[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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