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No. 1: Ebola

Ebola was a cataclysmic catch-all. The disease carried all the tropes of every apocalyptic horror movie. The epidemic overwhelmed the poor health infrastructures in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, leaving more than 3,000 dead. In America, the death count was two, but facts didn’t tamp down the hysteria and election-year outcries for travel bans. The deadly fever had inflamed the country’s other fears:unchecked immigration,failed bureaucracy,sequestration fallout, and — perhaps most fundamentally — individual rights versus the common good. Cruel hoaxes (lies about infected Texas kindergartners, chocolate supplies, and even Texas turkeys) fed the online scare. Global fingerpointing tainted hitherto respected institutions like the World Health Organization — and exposed how wealthy countries cut back their contributions there. Fearmongering aside, the victims in the United States and Africa sparked genuine concern. By November, Americans haddonated $7.3 million to the Red Cross and $21 million to Doctors Without Borders and corporations have begun stepping in.

Top 10 Searches of 2014

Vera H-C Chan
Senior Editor, Special Projects
Yahoo Tech

Since 2001, Yahoo’s annual top searches have reflected each year’s guilty pleasures (from RuneScape to Minecraft), the au courant celebutante (from Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian), the reigning pop stars (from Britney Spears to Ariana Grande) and the major stories (from the World Trade Center attacks to Ebola). So what do a billion searches tell us about society? Besides the power of recurring archetypes (such as the female musical ingenue) and social media promotion (#BreakTheInternet), the list captures the cultural mood, political concerns, and technological advances of our time. Dig deep enough, and you’ll see a fast-moving narrative of shifting norms. Check out the repeat visitors, new faces, and big issues on our 2014 list. And don’t forget to check out our list of top 10 news stories and the year’s obsessions.