December 5th, 2004


"Pop Science" is often wrong

I often wonder how so much misinformation can be passed around (Some examples: There are over a hundred inuit words for snow -- the truth is, there are less than a dozen. English became the national language in the United States over german by only one vote -- the truth is, there is no national language in the United States. The list continues.) That's why after reading the short paragraph that follows, I was skeptical of its results, having taken several courses on cognitive psychology and linguistics. I did some research on the internet and came up with the link that appears at the bottom of this post. I also came up with my own counter example, which is the second paragraph that appears below.

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch by the Lngiusiitc Dptanmeret at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

But tihs sudesppoly postrugeiis drentmapet apareps ircorcent. If tehy had ctreaed a denefrift eplamxe, praphes tehy wunld'ot be dinwarg teshe dvicpetee cosinuncols so qclukiy. Tehy aslo clitenonenvy redeeorrd tiehr leetrts to be eeasir to dipecher, mkiang an eelgenicdxy wrslehots slpame wrose. The Lusingitic Drapementt at Cigarmdbe Useitvinry nedes steamrr rrccheeserahs.
DecipheredCollapse )

As you can see, there is some difficulty reading it -- a far cry from "reading it without problem"! There are event some words that are indecipherable without much thought. If this example really is from Cambridge University, well then, there goes the neighborhood.

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