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Renae
SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2004 :  18:32:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
I was taught to think critically in college.

I agree that it's the exposure to ideas...and that dreaded word "diversity" that is more influential than education per se.
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2004 :  03:36:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
I don't think I was ever 'taught' to think critically, except perhaps in one philosophy class when we were dealing with logic. But what I do know is that, at least in my field, as Valiant Dancer already said, we've to think for ourselves in some classes, and not so much in others.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26020 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2004 :  23:01:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Reading this thread, I've had an epiphany! Here's my take on the OP:

It's not that religious people (and especially creationists) have less education which leads to crappy textural style, it's that they don't care.

I, and I'm sure many of the regulars here, are very much concerned that our ideas are interpreted by others as we intend them to be. Messy sentences, lack of paragraph breaks, etc. aren't the result of a lack of education (these people can probably speak very well), it's that they're sure - posting on the Skeptic Friends Network - that their ideas will be dismissed anyway. Why should they bother to communicate well when they're positive that they'll be called delusional (or worse)?

In other words, my hypothesis is that good writing correlates highly with the desire to be understood. People who write badly here (and elsewhere) either don't give a rat's patootie what others think of them, or don't think they'll be persuasive no matter what they write. There's no reason to expend the energy to do something correctly if you don't care about it.

This hypothesis neatly explains both the well-written here, as well as the verlchs. It also explains members like Hippy4Christ, as well as erudite creationists on other message boards. And, it successfully avoids the implication that the devout are stupid.

However, it does imply one thing, and suggests an associated avenue for further research: an interesting survey would be to ask questions along the lines of, "Do you, as a faithful [fill in the blank], think that an adherent of a different religion would pay attention to your views about your god(s), if you were to talk about them?" The sorta-nasty item which my hypothesis implies is that the devout will be more likely to answer "no." In other words, sloppy writing is hypothetically correlated with the prejudice that others are prejudiced against you.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  05:56:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Hadn't thought of that, Dave. It would explain a lot.

But it begs the question of: why bother, then? If you don't care enough to put forth your thoughts in a clear and concise manner, so that they can be easily read and understood, What's the point of putting them forth at all?

Except for the rare times that I'm almost in a hurry, I preview my posts all but to death to make sure they say exactly what I intend. They are addressed not only to the regulars, but to our many lurkers as well. If I were a Creationist, or some other sort of Believer of Whatever, I'd keep these lurkers in mind. I might not convince the regulars, but there might be a lurker or three receptive to my ideas.

Some of our Christian regulars, such as Robb and Doomar, came here writing well, and I have noticed that not a few of our other regulars, including some that we don't hear much from, have shown a marked improvement in wielding their pens. Including friend verlch, no less. Perhaps something is rubbing off?


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4955 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  08:26:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

Reading this thread, I've had an epiphany! Here's my take on the OP:

It's not that religious people (and especially creationists) have less education which leads to crappy textural style, it's that they don't care.

I, and I'm sure many of the regulars here, are very much concerned that our ideas are interpreted by others as we intend them to be. Messy sentences, lack of paragraph breaks, etc. aren't the result of a lack of education (these people can probably speak very well), it's that they're sure - posting on the Skeptic Friends Network - that their ideas will be dismissed anyway. Why should they bother to communicate well when they're positive that they'll be called delusional (or worse)?

In other words, my hypothesis is that good writing correlates highly with the desire to be understood. People who write badly here (and elsewhere) either don't give a rat's patootie what others think of them, or don't think they'll be persuasive no matter what they write. There's no reason to expend the energy to do something correctly if you don't care about it.


Interesting, Dave, though it can't explain everything. Remember some of the posts over at Skeptictimes. Even when those people were debating things amonst themeselves-- presumably things that they were interested in-- you still found lots of poor writing. In that case, I think it's a simple age demographic: younger kids who more or less grew up with the internet and chats, etc. have develped a writing style that is different from the style used in writing exposatory works. Their internet style is more like their spoken word, whereas for slightly older people (I only graduated from college 9 years ago), writing on an internet forum is the same as writing a paper in school.

Perhaps...
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13474 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  11:15:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
quote:
DaveW:
In other words, my hypothesis is that good writing correlates highly with the desire to be understood. People who write badly here (and elsewhere) either don't give a rat's patootie what others think of them, or don't think they'll be persuasive no matter what they write. There's no reason to expend the energy to do something correctly if you don't care about it.

quote:
Cuneiformist:
Their internet style is more like their spoken word, whereas for slightly older people (I only graduated from college 9 years ago), writing on an internet forum is the same as writing a paper in school.



First, as Filthy pointed out, why bother writing anything if you don't care if you are understood? Writing on a forum is not an assignment that is going to be graded. There is really no pressure to say anything at all. If you feel you will be disregarded, why post?

As for internet writing style, I try to write as I speak. Adding a few commas and punctuation with paragraph breaks makes that easier. I don't speak in pause less run-on sentences. (By the way, my spelling is perfect when I talk.)

I hate to say it but what is being said and the way it is being presented often match up. It may not be an indication of intelligence. Maybe it is more of an indication that lazy thinking and lazy writing correlate somehow.

Of course, I have read some very well written posts that are incredibly stupid in content. And some very smart posts that are almost unreadable. (That doesn't happen as often.) Go figure.

It might be interesting to devise some test for content and writing style to see how they corralate…


Edited slightly.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4955 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  11:42:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil
As for internet writing style, I try to write as I speak. Adding a few commas and punctuation with paragraph breaks makes that easier. I don't speak in pause less run-on sentences. (By the way, my spelling is perfect when I talk.) (emph. added)



Amazing! I always have trouble with "its" and "it's" when talking, and people never know if I'm making a possessive or not...
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  11:47:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
Well, that depends.

I try to write as correctly as I can when I'm writing serious stuff. But I don't bother as much when I'm chit-chatting with someone over the 'net, y'know?

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26020 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  11:57:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

First, as Filthy pointed out, why bother writing anything if you don't care if you are understood? Writing on a forum is not an assignment that is going to be graded. There is really no pressure to say anything since if you feel you will be disregarded, why write at all?
You'll note that many of the first posts by the badly-written are angry. Storm's "skeptics are close-minded," verlch's "things get fugly," etc. I didn't say these people weren't motivated to write at all, I just said that they're not motivated to make themselves understood by a readership which (they think) will refuse to understand them.

Cuneiformist, I believe that the pseudo-"leet speek" used over on SkepticTimes was completely understandable by the others there. You'll notice that tkster doesn't litter his posts here with "pwned" and "woot" and other jargon. In fact, you can see his own posts over on his forum change style between being administrator and just joking around with his buddies. Such was true of almost all of them, with the notable exception of Kevin, who didn't seem to care about much at all.
quote:
I hate to say it but what is being said and the way it is being presented often match up. It may not be an indication of intelligence. Maybe it is more of an indication that lazy thinking and lazy writing correlate somehow.
And all I'm saying is that lazy writing correlates with prejudicial thinking about one's correspondents. Whether that's due to lazy thinking ("seen one atheist, seen 'em all") or self-righteousness ("I'm right, they're wrong, doesn't matter what they think") or whatever is a question that would require further study.

Along those lines, a month ago or so a comment over on Panda's Thumb suggested the establishment of "Theorist Theory," or what I would call "theorology," which seemed to me to be the study of the common psychology of creation (and ID) theorists. It would allow one to predict the reactions of a creationist to a set of stimuli. I think we all do it, anyway (see the end of For Formal Debate), but theorology would codify and formalize the impromptu analyses going on here.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13474 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  11:58:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Well, right. I think chat rooms and IMs are a whole other animal...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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R.Wreck
SFN Regular

USA
1191 Posts

Posted - 12/18/2004 :  14:34:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send R.Wreck a Private Message
I am always skeptical of poll or survey results. There are numerous chances for introducing error and bias:

Who paid for this poll? It would be good to know to judge if the poll was possibly designed to get the desired answer. The link did not give this information.

What specific questions were asked and what were the allowable choices for responses? This site says:

quote:
Danger in Designing a "Bad" Questionnaire: In designing a questionnaire the following points should be observed in its design:

questions should be simple

questions should be unambiguous

the best kinds of question are those which allow a pre-printed answer to be ticked

the questionnaire should be as short as possible

questions should be neither irrelevant nor too personal

Leading questions should not be asked. A "leading question" is one that suggests the answer, e.g. the question “Don't you agree that all sensible people use XYZ soap?” suggests the answer "yes"

The questionnaire should be designed so that the questions fall into a logical sequence. This will enable the respondent to understand its purpose, and as a result the quality of his answers may be improved.



Again, the Harris site did not elaborate, so we have no way of knowing what questions the responsdents actually answered. Some of the reported findings do seem to be rather open to the respondents interpretation of things, for instance "miracles".

Web polls do not necessarily represent the "the American public", as explained here:

quote:
Current use of the Internet is far from universal. Internet surveys do not reflect the population as a whole. This is true even if a sample of Internet users is selected to match the general population in terms of age, gender and other demographics.

People can easily quit in the middle of a questionnaire. They are not as likely to complete a long questionnaire on the Web as they would be if talking with a good interviewer.

If your survey pops up on a web page, you often have no control over who replies - anyone from Antartica to Zanzibar, cruising that web page may answer.

Depending on your software, there is often no control over people responding multiple times to bias the results.

At this stage we recommend using the Internet for surveys mainly when your target population consists entirely or almost entirely of Internet users. Business-to-business research and employee attitude surveys can often meet this requirement. Surveys of the general population usually will not. (emphasis mine)



I am not implying that this poll was biased, but without more information on its sponsorship and construction I can't say that it wasn't. It must also be recognized that polls and surveys have built-in problems which should cause us to take the results with at least a grain of salt. Language itself is interpreted by the respondents allowing for their own bias to influence their answers, even if the survey designer posed the question in the most neutral way possible.

(If you are interested in how language is used and misused, check out S.I Hayakawa's book.)


The foundation of morality is to . . . give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibliities of knowledge.
T. H. Huxley

The Cattle Prod of Enlightened Compassion
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2004 :  15:50:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
quote:
it seems very unfair to judge people's intelligence based solely on their ability to spell


I don't think anyone is suggesting this. It's lvl of education vs belief. The site, as I read it, suggests that there are fewer believers among the higher educated, and more believers among the less educated.

As a general statement I suspect this might be true.


I have been critical of some here for making posts that are, essentially, unreadable. Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes can (and definitely should) be forgiven in this informal environment.

However, a minimal application of basic grammatical rules is badly needed. Especially when there already exists a communications gulf between those who come from opposite ends of the credulity spectrum who post here.

And, it seems (here and other places) to always be the credulous (even on sites operated by the credulous) who can't be bothered with those pesky commas and paragraph breaks.

As for the pseudo-leet speak used by some younger people... It's a seperate language, and you old farts just don't get it. WTFZOR! PWNED!


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4955 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2004 :  07:34:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude
As for the pseudo-leet speak used by some younger people... It's a seperate language, and you old farts just don't get it. WTFZOR! PWNED!


I'm not sure which is more distressing-- being called an "old fart", or not understanding "WTFZOR". Being so old, perhaps I'll just lapse into my usual Elizabethan English mode of writing!
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2004 :  08:05:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

quote:
Originally posted by Dude
As for the pseudo-leet speak used by some younger people... It's a seperate language, and you old farts just don't get it. WTFZOR! PWNED!


I'm not sure which is more distressing-- being called an "old fart", or not understanding "WTFZOR". Being so old, perhaps I'll just lapse into my usual Elizabethan English mode of writing!

Do it! Do it! I love reading that sort of thing! Would that I could write it...

I hate trying to decipher gobbledegook. I used to put on my grammar nazi hat fairly often, but not so much any more. Now, I rarely bother to read the post and let it go at that.

Writing is more than a mere means of communication, It is a craft, indeed an art. It is also a measure of the writer that often is not an accurate measure of the person, if that makes sense. For example, someone who does not take at least a little care in presenting his/her views appears to me to be sloppy otherwise. And in the forums, I have no way of correcting that impression.

In short, if you write like an idiot, you will be thought of as an idiot, whether you are one or not.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Wendy
SFN Regular

USA
614 Posts

Posted - 12/20/2004 :  09:54:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Wendy a Yahoo! Message Send Wendy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by R.Wreck

I am always skeptical of poll or survey results. There are numerous chances for introducing error and bias:

Who paid for this poll? It would be good to know to judge if the poll was possibly designed to get the desired answer. The link did not give this information.

What specific questions were asked and what were the allowable choices for responses?

These are all valid points, R.Wreck. I've looked for the answers as I have time (I usually post from work) but haven't come up with anything conclusive. I think I will change my stratagy and look for another poll with similar results, perhaps one that has more documentation with regard to sponsorship and questions asked.

However it will probably be after the holidays!

BTW, thanks for the link. Looks like an interesting book.

Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do on a rainy afternoon.
-- Susan Ertz
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