freejung - 3:58 pm on Sep 7, 2011 (gmt 0)
Without getting in a philosophical discussion, we can look at certain things and draw our own conclusions about Google.
No. With getting into a philosophical discussion: a rational empiricist does not base conclusions on what is "obvious" to "reasonable people" (indeed, that's a classic mistake and usually turns out to be incorrect), nor on looking at "certain things." A rational empiricist bases conclusions on repeatable empirical evidence.
If you have repeatable empirical evidence that Google is "manipulating" (whatever that means, it would be nice to have a definition) search results to increase adwords revenue, that would be interesting. If all you have is suspicion, innuendo, and non-falsifiable conspiracy theories, that is of no use to a rational empiricist and we can safely disregard it.
If you have no interest in rational empiricism, there isn't a lot I can do to help you - you will just believe whatever the heck you feel like believing regardless of the facts.
That's not to say that all conspiracy theories are false. However, because they are not falsifiable, they present a particular epistemological difficulty and you would need to have extremely compelling positive evidence (such as the non-existent emails you postulate) to make a case for one.
The other problem with the theory is that it's not actionable. OK, so what if it's true, what do you propose to do about it? Does it actually affect your business strategy? If you think businesses that pay for adwords have an advantage over businesses that don't, then try paying for adwords. If that helps your business, you should do it regardless of whether the theory is true, and if it doesn't help your business you shouldn't do it regardless of whether the theory is true, so why does it matter?
The only real function this theory serves is to make webmasters feel better about their failures - and for me it doesn't even help with that, I feel bad about my failures regardless of Google's ethical status.