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My understanding of the end result was that hyphens are treated as spaces (or word separators) but underscores are not:
"this-that" = "this that"
"this_that"!= "this that"
OK all makes sense so far?
If this is the case then how does a search on "Brett" (http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/13907-1-15.htm) match his profile page which only contains the word "Brett" as part of the substring "Brett_Tabke"?
Is this a case of inbound link text creating the association between the two terms? Not from what I can see.
For the moment, I would stick with received wisdom. Hyphen equals space, but not underscore.