New ammo in the boys/girls argument about who’s better at what: math and writing

There’s new paper ammunition for all combatants in the eternal anger-and-joy-filled war to explain why more men than women officially keep on studying mathematics. The new paper that provides—that is itself—the ammunition is: “Girls’ Comparative Advantage in Reading Can Largely Explain the Gender Gap in Math-Related Fields,” Thomas Breda and Clotilde Napp, Proceedings of the […]

Ammo for Space Pedants: Are Two Spaces Better Than One?

There may be no safe space in the ongoing war, between scholars, about blank characters.[SPACE] The latest salvo is in the form of a published study.[SPACE,SPACE]  You can look for yourself at the character spacing in the study itself: “Are Two Spaces Better Than One? The Effect of Spacing Following Periods and Commas During Reading,” […]

Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer

“The dirt ground into the margins of medieval manuscripts is one of their interpretable features, which can help us to understand the desires, fears, and reading habits of the past.” – explains researcher Dr Kathryn M. Rudy who is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Art History, of the University of St Andrews, Scotland. […]

Improbable bizarre-studies performance at ARISIA this Saturday

Join us this Saturday, for the Improbable Research session at ARISIA, in Boston. Marc Abrahams will introduce an all-star lineup. The performers will do dramatic, two-minute readings from bizarre studies collected by the Annals of Improbable Research. Each performer will be unfamiliar with the study she or he is reading aloud, aside from skimming through it immediately before the […]

Gunning fog

“In linguistics, the Gunning fog index is a test designed to measure the readability of a sample of English writing,” says Wikipedia. Someone named Simon has put a Gunning fog calculator online. This and the preceding paragraph together have a Gunning fog index of 11.47, sayeth the calculator.

More Inappropriate Highlighting

“Harmful Effects of Preexisting Inappropriate Highlighting on Reading Comprehension and Metacognitive Accuracy,” Vicki Silvers Gier, David S. Kreiner and Amelia Natz-Gonzalez, Journal of General Psychology, vol. 136, no. 3, 2009, pp. 287–300. Silvers Gier and Kreiner were awarded the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize in literature for their 1997 report “The Effects of Pre-Existing Inappropriate Highlighting […]