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Reading levels

Switch Blayde
Updated:

Not quite sure how reading levels ended up in the comma thread but thought it deserved its own. Here's an interesting article on that subject (https://contently.com/strategist/2015/01/28/this-surprising-reading-level-analysis-will-change-the-way-you-write/). I'm copying some interesting parts here (I'm not bothering with quotes or the < quote so just know everything below this is copied from the article):

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Apparently, my man Ernest [Hemingway], the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning novelist whose work shaped 20th-century fiction, wrote for elementary-schoolers.

The initial surprise from my little data experiment is that writers whose work we regard highly tend to be produce work at a lower reading level than we'd intuit.[7] Cormac McCarthy, Jane Austen, and Hunter S. Thompson join J.K. Rowling in the readability realm of pre-teens. The content of McCarthy's and Thompson's novels isn't meant for children, but these writers' comprehensibility is rather universal.

I did an informal poll of some friends while writing this post. Every one of them told me that they assumed that higher reading level meant better writing. We're trained to think that in school. But data shows the opposite: lower reading level often correlates with commercial popularity and in many cases, how good we think a writer is.[8]

In eras past, sophisticated writers aimed to entertain and persuade a sophisticated audience with big vocabulary and complex ideas. (Case in point: Ben Franklin's autobiography—one of my favorites—is written at a 13th grade level.) In recent years, it seems an increasing number of sophisticated thinkers have intended to reach larger audiences through literary simplification (e.g., Malcolm Gladwell, one of the smartest people I've met, who certainly could write at a 13th grade level but intentionally writes at 8th grade level in order to bring complex ideas to an audience that wouldn't hang at a higher level).

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Yet some relatively popular writers eg Dean Koontz, deliberately use vocabulary which challenge or are outside the purview of typical dead-tree dictionaries.

AJ

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

In eras past, sophisticated writers aimed to entertain and persuade a sophisticated audience with big vocabulary and complex ideas. (Case in point: Ben Franklin's autobiography—one of my favorites—is written at a 13th grade level.)


Very interesting article.

I wonder how some of these scores would change if authors from eras past, were scored not against modern educational standards, but the educational standards of their own era?

oyster50

I like to keep somewhere between Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein for reading level. If we go too much further down, we get to "See Spot run" and 'readers' who should be looking at comic books.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@oyster50

I like to keep somewhere between Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein for reading level. If we go too much further down, we get to "See Spot run" and 'readers' who should be looking at comic books.

I suspect this boils down to the same issue: writers tend to write how they speak. If they speak in simple sentences: essential for the older style newspaper reporters, then you write simple sentences. If you speak using complex sentences and ten-dollar words, then you aren't likely to change just to match a potential market. You should adjust the speech of characters to fit their personalities, but otherwise, you write how you're accustomed to.

Replies:   madnige
madnige

@Crumbly Writer

You should adjust the speech of characters to fit their personalities


If you can spare the time to read it, C.J.Cherryh's 'Cyteen' has some excellent examples of this - her main character appears at various ages from toddler to adolescent and 90+ matriarch, and the voices and internal thoughts are well matched to these ages, and properly distinct from the other character's speech patterns.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


.... they assumed that higher reading level meant better writing. We're trained to think that in school. But data shows the opposite: lower reading level often correlates with commercial popularity and in many cases, how good we think a writer is.[8]


I do think that there are too many generalisations involved in the question.

You need to define "readability" taking into account educational standards (which have fallen precipitously here), the words used (my US published books are littered with 10 letter words), the subject (in competition with electronic games), the plots (ditto), the print quality....

There are writers (for example Faith Compton Mackenzie from the 1930's/1940's) who are easy to read - for seven year olds in the 1950s, but teens nowadays - (her husband is pretty difficult - like the man), Thomas Hardy, mid 1800's - easy to read but far too long), Hartmann, Kester, Davies and Geneve (USA in 1997) writing for students - do they know ANY words with less than 8 letters?- try ontogenesis or hyperhydricity without Google!

docholladay

I think it might boil down to word choices. Not reading levels. Although the word choice does affect the reading level probably. Instead of the so-called 2 bit word using a 100 dollar word increases the required reading level (otherwise making it harder to understand). In technical writing for example that 100 dollar word might be best. But for fiction the word choice when available should be the 2 bit word. Less likely to have to look up the definition to understand the word. Anytime a reader has to stop and think of the definition or look it up, it increases the difficulty levels and probably lowers popularity.

Dominions Son

@docholladay

I think it might boil down to word choices. Not reading levels. Although the word choice does affect the reading level probably.


Word choice definitely affects reading level.

The most popular reading level measure, Flesch-Kincaid combines two ratios with a few constants.

The two ratios which are effectively averages are total words/total sentences and total syllables/total words. Or simplified, the average number of words per sentence and the average number of syllables per word.

You can see the exact formula here: Flesch-Kincaid

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

But for fiction the word choice when available should be the 2 bit word. Less likely to have to look up the definition to understand the word.

I've never been one to avoid particular words, but if/when you do use them, it's important to provide enough context for readers to guestimate the meaning just from the context of the sentence.

When I was young, I'd often encounter unfamiliar words while reading. I'd look up very few of them, but those where I could figure out the meaning stuck with me much longer, and I'd often look up the work (after I finished the book) and would internalize the word.

The objective isn't to force readers to look up definitions, instead it's to help the readers figure out what's going on. Don't be afraid to use 10-dollar words (though maybe limit them to $2.50 words), but make it easier for the reader to figure out those words even if they don't recognize them.

Unfamiliar words are similar to how you handle foreign terms or brand names (for readers who aren't from your local marketplace). Each time you reference something that someone might not understand, provide enough context (ex: "We went to the neighborhood IHOP (International House of Pancakes) for their classic blueberry pancakes") for readers to comprehend what you're talking about.

For a real world example, an editor recently chided me for using "redoubt", questioning how many would recognize the word. However, the context was relatively clear: my characters were in a protected cave at the bottom of a cliff, being fired on from above. I changed "redoubt" to "temporary refuge", since it's clearer, but I prefer to think readers would assume from the context that "redoubt" means 'safe protected place' (or at least 'safer, protected place' than being out in the open during a firefight).

Take said example for what you will, but don't be afraid of teaching readers something new. Uncommon words don't need to be roadblocks, as long as they can keep moving when they encounter them.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

The most popular reading level measure, Flesch-Kincaid combines two ratios with a few constants.

I get readouts on reading levels as I review each chapter. Unfortunately, the various measurements span across the scale. I've had a single chapter range from 4th grade to 11th grade (U.S. school system based), rendering the entire measurement movement a largely meaningless process. If each measurement produces a separate result, then your rating will be determined by which measurement you choose (i.e. you can 'shop around' you reading level measurement).

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Somewhere in all these threads, I recall someone saying that writers typically write the way we talk. I suspect that is very true.

RGLs are great for giving a writer the general idea of whether their writing is suitable for their readers linguistic abilities.

However, I am curious about speaking grade levels. I don't recall anything about how to measure the grade level of a person's speech. I suppose you could record a person's words and use the RGL calculation formulas.

It would be an interesting research project for a student working on a Masters or Doctorate degree in Communications. I would especially like to see a correlation between a person's educational level and average speech grade level. I came across an interesting article while looking for speech grade level information. The article stated that Trump's speeches are written at the 4th grade level and Obama's are at the 9th grade level. It makes me wonder if Trump is that deficient mentally or if he is speaking to the level of his supporters.

Switch Blayde

@REP

The article stated that Trump's speeches are written at the 4th grade level and Obama's are at the 9th grade level.


Not to take anything away from Obama's intellect, but his speeches are crafted by a speech writer where Trump's are usually off the top of his head (which is what gets him in so much trouble).

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

No where in there do they measure reader comprehension. They measure size of words and complexity of sentences, but how about reading comprehension?

A teenager on wattpad said he was really good at humorous dialogue. I'm not. He said he'd critique whatever we posted so I did. He didn't get the humor. I panicked because it's from my WIP novel which is geared towards his age group. Thankfully a 24-yo said she both got it and enjoyed it.

This goes back to what I said about showing requiring a higher reading comprehension level than telling.

Replies:   REP  Ernest Bywater
REP

@Switch Blayde

but how about reading comprehension


RGL is based on the grade level at which the reader can comprehend the words and sentence structure. The higher RGLs are due to using long, complex sentences to express a concept and the use of multi-syllable words.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

By the way, is the following dialogue funny? Cheyenne likes JoJo (boy), but JoJo is at a loss around girls. They are Cory's friends and eat together in the cafeteria. Cory has a gf and they know it. Cory and JoJo were just talking about something when Cheyenne joined them and she overheard something she shouldn't have so Cory made up a story about what they were talking about.

Cheyenne plopped down in her chair. "Boring. I thought it would be something juicy. I never get any good gossip from you guys."

"Then why do you eat with us?" I asked.

JoJo kicked me under the table. Hard! It hurt.

Cheyenne smiled and placed a hand on JoJo's forearm. "Because I like this guy. A lot. Just wish he'd ask me out again."

"How about me?" I asked.

"I don't want to go out with you. JoJo's my man."

"I wasn't asking you out."

"Why not?"

My stomach churned and my throat constricted. I glanced at JoJo who looked like he was about to pass out. When I turned back to Cheyenne, her smile matched JoJo's full-tooth one.

"You should see you two right now," she said and giggled. "Boys. Sheesh. You're so easy to manipulate. That's why you never have gossip. You're at a total loss as to what's going on around you."

She patted JoJo's arm. "I only want you to ask me out."

REP

@Switch Blayde

Trump's are usually off the top of his head


Sounds as if you are saying Trump thinks at a fourth grade level.

I also read an article yesterday that inferred that Trump was mentally unstable. It cited three personality disorders and provided instances that appear to support their being applicable to Trump's mental state. Stopped just short of saying he had bats in his belfry.

The article did raise an interesting point. The Secret Service agents who protect the President must pass a psychological screening exam. However, there is not such test for Presidential candidates. Might make a good story.

Switch Blayde

@REP

RGL is based on the grade level at which the reader can comprehend the words and sentence structure. The higher RGLs are due to using long, complex sentences to express a concept and the use of multi-syllable words.


But there's more to reading comprehension than vocabulary and sentence structure. If you have a father belittling, beating, and humiliating his daughter, the reader has to comprehend that he's an abusive father without being told so. Isn't that part of reading comprehension in fiction?

Isn't that why children's books are all telling (maybe with pictures doing the showing) because a child doesn't have the reading comprehension to come to that conclusion by themselves?

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

@REP

correlation between a person's educational level and average speech grade level.


Many people speak below their educational level to fit in with those around them, or to be better understood by those they work with.

As to politicians speeches, they're written by speech writers, each of whom have different approaches and ideas on what level they should write to.

Replies:   REP  sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

humorous dialogue.


A lot of humourous dialogue depends on the style of humour and what the reader is familiar with. A classic example of this is the UK comedy Till death do us part it went well in the US and Canad so one of the US networks bought the rights, took the scripts and did some re-writes to make them more suited to US audiences and US comedic styles - the result was a the show All in the family which had, in my opinion, about one tenth of the humour of the original - and then only on a good episode of the US show.

Some people enjoy puns, some people hate them, and some people don't understand them at all - different experiences with humour and different expectations from it.

REP

@Switch Blayde

the reader has to comprehend that he's an abusive father without being told so.


In general I agree. The problem is that many people are oblivious to what is happening around them. Give them a series of facts that lead to an obvious conclusion, and they fail to correlate the facts and come to the proper conclusion. In your example, they may decide that the father is emulating a poor role model, and they may also decide it is not his fault.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
REP

@Ernest Bywater

Many people speak below their educational level to fit in with those around them, or to be better understood by those they work with.


I know. That is why I would like to see a comparison of educational level and speech level.

Do people drop their speech level down to a common level? Is that level common to all walks of life or is it set by their social environment or business associates? Do they speak at different levels depending on whom they are with at the time?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


In your example, they may decide that the father is emulating a poor role model, and they may also decide it is not his fault.


Of course there would be more to the story that would show his abusiveness. And it's not just the reader's ability to comprehend what the author wrote. The author must do his job as well. It's not only the reader's responsibility.

btw, I stand corrected. I was searching on reading levels for "show don't tell" and came across a lesson plan for teachers on the subject. The lesson plan was for grades 2–4. That's 7–9-year-olds. Much younger than I had thought.

It's at: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/show-dont-tell-whiteboard-writing-lesson

sejintenej

@REP

It makes me wonder if Trump is that deficient mentally or if he is speaking to the level of his supporters


REP ‎28‎/‎07‎/‎2016‎ ‎03‎:‎15‎:‎12
Updated: ‎28‎/‎07‎/‎2016‎ ‎03‎:‎16‎:‎16
replying to Crumbly Writer (sorry, don't know which Forum thread)

"Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said. "If Professor Hawking wants to do some damage, maybe he should try talking in English next time."

Hawking had used two long words which few seem to have understood - demagogue and denominator. Sounds like Trump talks to the level of his election team. Makes me wonder if he can say Pennsylvania Avenue

Replies:   graybyrd  REP  Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

As to politicians speeches, they're written by speech writers, each of whom have different approaches and ideas on what level they should write to.

Certainly but a politician should choose a speech writer who can follow their style and it is the politician who must give the speech and pretend that he/she agrees with the words, phrases and intent. The level has to be that approved by the politician/employer

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
graybyrd

@sejintenej

Makes me wonder if he can say Pennsylvania Avenue


He doesn't need to. He hires someone who can, who understands it, and who can explain it to him. Then he fires them and cancels the check used to pay them. And then he accuses them of incompetence, disloyalty, and chicanery (but not knowing the word 'chicanery,' Trump says 'crooked.')

"Crooked!" he says. "Big stupid crook! Really YUGE Crook!" he rants. "But I fired 'er. Unloyal bitch! I fired 'er ass! She was UGLY! Too FAT 'n UGLY!"

A real class act, our Mr. Trump.

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

The level has to be that approved by the politician/employer


In most cases the employer of the speech writer is not the politician, but the political party sub-group they belong to. Although, with how rich Trump is, he can afford his own. I've seen few of his political speeches, and a few of his corporate talks from before he announced his running for president this time, and the ones I saw showed they were written by two very different people. Unknown if he wrote any of them or not, but clearly his political writer, or current writer, is different to the non-political one he had a few years back.

REP

@sejintenej

Trump talks to the level of his election team


Makes me wonder if Trump and his election team understood Hawking's reply -- Trump bad man, very bad man.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Just to give you a feel for the variability of the 'grade rating systems', my newest chapter received the following ratings (each system uses a different methodology to measure grade level):

New Dale Chall 5-6
Powers, Sumner, Kearl Write 5.1
Spache (Revised) 4.6
Coleman-Liau 8.2
Smog 8.3
Flesch-Kincaid 5.9
Automated Readability Index 6.1
Gunning Fog 7.6
Linsear Write 6.7

The only time grade level is calculations are essential to writing is if you're writing either children's books or school books, when you'll need to accurately rate each book before most sites/libraries/schools will stock them. For adults, most authors seem to simply pick whichever system strokes their ego and go with that. Only a few authors I know of actively search out marked words in order to simplify their stories.

REP, as far as "researching" the various grade-level estimates, you don't need a graduate study, you just need to search for the selection criteria of each of the methodologies listed above and they'll explain (in general) what they search for.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

"Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said. "If Professor Hawking wants to do some damage, maybe he should try talking in English next time."

To the credit of Trump's fans, Google registered a record number of dictionary lookups for those two words, so they were at least smart enough to look them up--rather than simply dismissing the entire comment as illegible without bothering to figure out the critique.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

Trump bad man, very bad man.


The only thing Trump really has going for him is the alternative is Hillary - and you have to decide which dangerous devil you wish to serve.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

The only thing Trump really has going for him is the alternative is Hillary - and you have to decide which dangerous devil you wish to serve.


So true. 2000 wasn't in the end the victory of G W Bush over Al Gore, but the victory of "anyone but Gore" over "anyone but Bush"

In the end, Neither Trump nor Clinton will win 2016. The true winner will be either #neverTrump or #neverHillary, unless of course #neverTrump and #neverHillary team up and elect Gary Johnson.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

In the end, Neither Trump nor Clinton will win 2016. The true winner will be either #neverTrump or #neverHillary, unless of course #neverTrump and #neverHillary team up and elect Gary Johnson.

Just like Britians Brexit vote, the problem with 'outsiders' is they don't understand how the political system works, and thus can't work within the system to effect any changes.

In the past, people like Rockefeller and Roosevelt worked with advisors who told them what they needed to do, but if you refuse to listen to any advice, it's hard to learn the difficult lessons in life (like you've got to compromise occasionally to advance).

REP

@Crumbly Writer

you don't need a graduate study


I am aware that there are numerous methods of calculating RGL, and that they produce different results.

I thought on a graduate study had to do with verbal communication and the relationship of our social and business environments on the grade level of our speech. The only means I know of for determining speech grade level is to use one of the RGL calculations. I still think that would be an interesting study.

REP

@Ernest Bywater

you have to decide which dangerous devil you wish to serve.


Very true Ernest. I made my decision and others will make theirs.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Just like Britians Brexit vote, the problem with 'outsiders' is they don't understand how the political system works, and thus can't work within the system to effect any changes.


Right now a large percentage of US voters see all political insiders as inherently corrupt and part of the problem.

Trump won the Republican nomination because he is seen as an outsider*.

Only an outsider can fix the problem, because the political insiders are the problem.

*Trump is not truly a political outsider. He has a great deal of experience manipulating politicians and the political system for his own personal/business benefit.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Dominions Son

Only an outsider can fix the problem, because the political insiders are the problem.


The problem with that view is once elected the person becomes a politician and is a political insider whether they want to be or not. In fact, they have to be to get anything done in Washington DC.

If elected, Trump must work with other politicians to get his legislation through Congress. Trump has no political support structure and his approach seems to be to rant, rave, and bully people into doing what he wants. That may work in business when you are the boss, but it is not going to work in the political arena. Especially when you have alienated close to 75% of the politicians you will have to work with every day.

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Just like Britians Brexit vote, the problem with 'outsiders' is they don't understand how the political system works, and thus can't work within the system to effect any changes.


I think the number of foreign celebrities, including Americans, who urged Brits to vote 'Remain' may actually have swayed people to vote the other way.

Do Americans take the political views of Stephen Hawking seriously? Personally I wouldn't. Being world class in a different field doesn't necessarily mean his political opinions are worth more than the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Very true Ernest. I made my decision and others will make theirs.

And I chose Susie for my personal demon, since she's got such a sunny disposition for a hell-incarnate. :-D

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Right now a large percentage of US voters see all political insiders as inherently corrupt and part of the problem.

Trump won the Republican nomination because he is seen as an outsider*.

The problem is: an 'outsider' like Trump is often more aligned with a specific fringe group (dare I say the racist wing the Democrats rejected 50 years ago), so that they're unable to make the necessary compromises to govern, while an outsider like Bernie might excite the electorate, they can rarely get the necessary votes to win office.

I agree, between the inherent racism of politicians and the police in general (outside of the racism inherent inside the Trump rallies), not to mention the 1% determining what politicians vote for and approve, most agree we need to reject the established political parties, but we need someone who can galvanize the ENTIRE population, rather than a few isolated demographics.

I've been after a complete political revolution (patterned after Jefferson's idea of a "new American revolution" every 7 years, rather than a military revolution with guns) for years, but so far, that hasn't worked for over 250 years!!!

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Do Americans take the political views of Stephen Hawking seriously? Personally I wouldn't. Being world class in a different field doesn't necessarily mean his political opinions are worth more than the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus.

The point (in reporting the Stephen Hawking vs Trump spat) wasn't that Stephen Hawking should dictate our national politics, but that Trump had no clue what Hawking was saying, while his followers were at least smart enough to look up the words they didn't immediately recognize.

Everyone has their opinion, but if you're going to attack someone for theirs, it's best if you at least have a rough grasp or what it is first!

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

while his followers were at least smart enough to look up the words they didn't immediately recognize


I wonder what percentage of people who looked up 'demagogue' and 'lowest common denominator' were actually Trump supporters.

If Hawking had no intention of influencing US politics, he could have politely dodged the question rather than making an observation that, in my opinion, reflects badly on him.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

If Hawking had no intention of influencing US politics, he could have politely dodged the question rather than making an observation that, in my opinion, reflects badly on him.

What sane person assumes that one of the two primary candidates for President of the United States would fly off the handle over a minor comment about their behavior. At best, in any other election cycle, it would have been buried on page 12, and a couple of people might have chuckled. Instead, Trump elected to make it into a major news story--in order to garner another day of free publicity from every news station across the country, highlighting just how illiterate he is (unable to understand a relatively simple sentence anyone with an 11th or 12th grade education could have parsed). But then again, that was his intent, so it's anyone's guess whether he's an idiot or an evil genius.

As far as wondering who looked up the terms he used, to be honest, I suspect it was everyone who read the news report concerning Trump's remarks, rather than Trump's followers, but I was trying to give them credit for doing the sensible thing.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@REP

The problem with that view is once elected the person becomes a politician and is a political insider whether they want to be or not. In fact, they have to be to get anything done in Washington DC.


All true, but that view is held by a significant percentage of US voters, and absolutely nothing you do can stop them from trying

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

What sane person assumes that one of the two primary candidates for President of the United States would fly off the handle over a minor comment about their behavior.


I don't know who made the story go viral, but I consider Hawking's verdict on Trump to be more significant than a minor comment.

Since the original study indicates most readers' preferred comprehension level is 8th grade or below, to place a public comment at 11th or 12th grade level seems naive or elitist.

AJ

Replies:   graybyrd  JohnBobMead
graybyrd
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


most readers' preferred comprehension level is 8th grade or below, to place a public comment at 11th or 12th grade level seems naive or elitist.


Perhaps, then, to consider the public education achievement levels of American students (consistently ranked below other nations) and the overall intellectual capacity of the American public as a result of disdain for 'nerds' and dedication to academic achievement, is to consider that any discourse beyond race baiting, opponent smearing, and personal behavior appropriate to a middle-school bully is "naive or elitist?"

Trump don't need to know nothing; he can hire it. His followers don't need to know nothing; they can just follow Trump, the American 'il Duce."

Roll over in your grave, Mussolini; make room for another fat-bellied, loud-mouthed strongman.

Oh ... is that an unfamiliar word? Strongman? Look it up. It was popular among former dictatorships. A clue: it's very similar in meaning to that elitist "D" word that Hawking used.

"il Duce?" Well, that's foreign, so nobody who hasn't read their history needn't get excited. It don't matter none. That can't happen here.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@graybyrd

is to expect any discourse beyond race baiting, opponent smearing, and personal behavior appropriate to a middle-school school-yard bully, to be "naive or elitist?


I don't think that's fair. Basic morality concepts can be understood from a very young age, so it's possible to discuss political issues without resorting to terminology beyond the comprehension of the majority of voters. The whole point of democracy is that everyone has a vote, whatever their reading age.

I know this is very equivocal but there's evidence that people with a lower reading age can be better decision makers. For example, agricultural workers and builders have lower driving accident rates than doctors and legal professionals.

Whatever people's personal opinions about Donald Trump, I don't think that should be an excuse to inhibit discussion of the political issues at stake.

AJ

Replies:   graybyrd  Not_a_ID  Not_a_ID
graybyrd

@awnlee jawking

Basic morality concepts can be understood from a very young ag


While I agree with most, there is the sticking point that the fastest way to have an argument defeated in the US is to point to "moral" or "ethical" arguments. Americans don't get worked up about business corruption (cheating, monopolistic thuggery, spying, etc.) or personal venality (lying, infidelity, cheating, theft, etc.) and only a moron believes that political party platform 'planks' or campaign promises ever expect to be honored following Election Day!

Thus, lies and half-truths, corruption, and abuses of morality and ethics are considered a normal and acceptable component of 'getting ahead' in American life, most especially in politics.

As for "lower driving accident rates than doctors...", perhaps that is true. During my time as a private pilot in the Idaho mountains, doctors had a terrible flight safety record. It was attributed to their "God" complex: they felt themselves infallible. Product liability lawsuits brought by doctor's widows completely ended production of single-engine aircraft in the US for a number of years.

Discuss the political issues at stake? With the American electorate literally pissing all over themselves, realizing the self-inflicted national humiliation of Donald Trump as a serious candidate for President? This moment should go down in history as a definable moment of national insanity, reckless distraction, and unbridled political perfidy!

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


The whole point of democracy is that everyone has a vote, whatever their reading age.


Correction: That is the point of MODERN Democracy as practiced for the last 100 years or so. Prior to that, voter selection criteria was highly variable to say the least.

Hell, the people who wrote The Constitution of the United States had issues trusting a plebiscite consisting almost entirely of land owning(and likely educated), white, Christian, males.

Which is part of the "how" behind the creation of the electoral college system. Because they expected the members of the electoral college to be better educated about the candidates for President than the voters themselves. (So "faithless electors" were actually somewhat expected, by design no less. Albeit, they've never been decisive to date.)

Edit to add: This also was why we had "and the state's shall select" for the Senate. At least until we fixed that up by mandating direct election of Senators by way of Constitutional Amendment.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@graybyrd


This moment should go down in history as a definable moment of national insanity, reckless distraction, and unbridled political perfidy!


Andrew Jackson and the kitchen cabinet.

Edit: To explain the failed joke, wiki to the rescue

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_Cabinet

docholladay

This thread just goes to prove there is truth in that old saying: "politics and religion just leads to fights."

Not real sure at times about that expression. But both topics sure does lead to some great debates.

richardshagrin

@Not_a_ID

Hell, the people who wrote The Constitution of the United States had issues trusting a plebiscite consisting almost entirely of land owning(and likely educated), white, Christian, males.


Most states had reservations about some Christian religions. Catholics need not apply, in the majority of states.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

Correction: That is the point of MODERN Democracy as practiced for the last 100 years or so. Prior to that, voter selection criteria was highly variable to say the least.


Even for modern democracies, everyone is still a stretch. Few, if any modern democracies allow non-citizen resident aliens to vote.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

Even for modern democracies, everyone is still a stretch. Few, if any modern democracies allow non-citizen resident aliens to vote.

Valid point. I'm not aware of any that allow non-citizens to vote.

Not_a_ID

@docholladay

I'm a bigger fan of the breakdown that turns politics into polyticks or "many blood-sucking insects."

Not_a_ID

@awnlee jawking

While I agree with most, there is the sticking point that the fastest way to have an argument defeated in the US is to point to "moral" or "ethical" arguments


Historically speaking, moralistic argumentation has resulted in some of the bloodiest conflagrations and wars in America's history books. Just saying.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@docholladay


This thread just goes to prove there is truth in that old saying: "politics and religion just leads to fights."


Which is why I stayed out of it and will do so after this one observation.

Trump got blasted because he repeated the word "pussy" at one of his rallies. Everyone said, "A president doesn't talk like that." Shortly after that I saw an interview where they asked the former president of Mexico about the wall. His response was, "Mexico will not pay for a fucking wall." No one mentioned a former president using the f-word. And I saw a special on CNN about Lyndon Johnson. When he spoke in private a sailor would blush. Gimme a break.

Trump does say stupid things, but one of his problems is he says what he believes. Hillary, on the other hand, is so full of bullshit I vomit every time she speaks.

I wish there was a better candidate, but there isn't. So we're stuck choosing between two that no one wants as president. So which is the lesser of two evils. I simply can't vote for Hillary (but she's going to win. Just add up the African American, Latino, and women voters and she's a shoe-in).

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

OTOH, I know a number of women who will be voting against Hilary simply by virtue of their not wanting anything to do with her becoming "the first female President of the United States." Although I'm sure there will no shortage of idiots who will be casting votes FOR Hillary "just so they could part of a moment in history." (Much like some voters in 2008)

Not_a_ID

I should add however, particularly given this venue. That given what a number of writers have propositioned as likely outcomes for a Hillary Presidency over the past 16 years is rather amusing from a pornographic/erotica standpoint. But I guess that only works if the predictions are mostly accurate.

For some reason there seem to be a lot of authors out there that think she's all for female nudity at the least. With public nudity either becoming a federal right during her presidency, or as a consequence of court rulings shortly thereafter.

Of course, I can see Trump not having an issue with it either. A topless or nude Miss America pageant would probably get banner ratings, which would make it a great business decision for his tastes. Hell, if he wins, his wife will be the first First Lady to have had a multi page nude photo shoot published in a popular magazine. And he's the Republican Candidate.

sejintenej
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I think the number of foreign celebrities, including Americans, who urged Brits to vote 'Remain' may actually have swayed people to vote the other way.


Definitely raised a lot of ire.

I suspect that there were three schools of thought 1) Bloo** foreigners trying to rule us for their own benefit, 2) do they know what they are talking about? 3) they will get it wrong as usual(example the volte face by the IMF)

Do Americans take the political views of Stephen Hawking seriously? Personally I wouldn't. Being world class in a different field doesn't necessarily mean his political opinions are worth more than the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus.


I do wonder how many Americans had even heard of Stephen Hawking.

Whilst I would not be led by "The National Enquirer" given it's fictional reputation I would at least consider Stephen Hawking's comments simply because he is (here) known as a man who very carefully investigates and considers what he says

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

simply because he is (here) known as a man who very carefully investigates and considers what he says


That's true of most people, except where it comes to their political or ideological preferences.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

That's true of most people, except where it comes to their political or ideological preferences.


I'm pretty sure Hawking, by dint of his condition, is a pretty strong advocate for the NHS and associated services. Which would tend to make him a "natural" political foe of Trump, who is the Anti-Obama-Care candidate in the US, the American version of NHS.

He wouldn't be the first single issue voter on record. Although I suspect he has more reasons than just that one.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

This thread just goes to prove there is truth in that old saying: "politics and religion just leads to fights."

And that politics among fiction authors tends to be emotional and only partially fact based. Authors tend to be more objective about getting the details of the own stories straight then they do with electing who'll run the greatest economy on the planet.

But, beyond that, I'll return to ignoring the political swill, as it really doesn't aid any discussion. Either a candidate represents the end of everything as we know it, but everything will--more or less--continue just as it always has. Either way, it's hardly worth getting yourself into a lather over, as no one will remember the arguments in another four months, but everyone will remember traitorous best friends they never speak of anymore.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I wish there was a better candidate, but there isn't. So we're stuck choosing between two that no one wants as president.

After 36 years of voting, I've never had any candidates I thought were worth voting for. Each vote was 'hopefully, this jerk will present the lesser threat, assuming he doesn't screw up mid-course.'

Unlike Diogenes of Sinope, I've given up on finding a single honest politician, but electing someone completely unqualified doesn't seem to be a decent choice either, especially if they're equally morally unqualified.

Replies:   sejintenej
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

And that politics among fiction authors tends to be emotional and only partially fact based. Authors tend to be more objective about getting the details of the own stories straight then they do with electing who'll run the greatest economy on the planet.


Probably has something to do with taking a series of "dots" (plot points) and connecting them together to weave a mostly coherent story line together.

Give that author a political candidate, and a few relevant talking points and/or mis-statements, and watch their imagination fill in the rest of the blanks and extrapolate the apocalypse.

Politics and the crazy train seems to be a common theme among well known authors, the crazier ones tending to be the ones that tend to write mystery/thriller/conspiracy novels. But the other categories have their own collection of famous whackys of their own.

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

I've given up on finding a single honest politician, but electing someone completely unqualified doesn't seem to be a decent choice either, especially if they're equally morally unqualified

Back in probably the 1980's I threw out a challenge across the internet for someone to nominate a politician of any place or time who is/was absolutely and undeniably honest. None stood the test!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Back in probably the 1980's I threw out a challenge across the internet for someone to nominate a politician of any place or time who is/was absolutely and undeniably honest. None stood the test!

Hell, I don't many people who could name an undeniably honest Priest, and forget cops, as no one but white people trust them as far as they could throw their squad car!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

and forget cops, as no one but white people trust them as far as they could throw their squad car!


A lot of white people don't trust cops either.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

A lot of white people don't trust cops either.

The sensible ones don't, but all the others say "But I've never had any problems with any of them." Duh! Try spending a day in someone else's shoes, and then tell me how their shoes fit.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Try spending a day in someone else's shoes


That didn't work. He walked away and I never saw him again, and I was out a pair of shoes.

richardshagrin

For some values of Honest, there are reputed to be some Honest Politicians. It involves them staying bought. And in some cases how long the lease lasts.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

For some values of Honest, there are reputed to be some Honest Politicians. It involves them staying bought. And in some cases how long the lease lasts.


Even those are rare these days.

graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


"But I've never had any problems with any of them." Duh! Try spending a day in someone else's shoes, and then tell me how their shoes fit.


News report today: the Baltimore PD is being sued by civil rights organizations for using the secret "Sting Ray" cellphone tower emulator so heavily, that 911 calls from black neighborhoods are sometimes blocked. (Sting Ray devices: developed by our spy agencies to intercept terrorist communications; now in use by PD's all over the country.

Look it up; read the news. Of course, if you're saying nothing bad on your phone, you have nothing to fear. What's heard by the cops will stay with the cops.

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Subject: Coppers, peelers, police

The sensible ones don't, but all the others say "But I've never had any problems with any of them." Duh! Try spending a day in someone else's shoes, and then tell me how their shoes fit.

I actually came close to that.
We have an organisation (R.O.S.P.A.) devoted to road safety which has local groups teaching advanced driving skills free of charge. Each "adviser" has to be vetted for his or her skills and be up to a high standard. The local group's president's son had been out with this applicant and gave him a bad report - I wasn't told why but guess that, as an experienced police patrol and chase driver he wasn't the easiest person.
I was asked for my opinion and spent 3 hours driving whilst he was passenger; in that time we witnessed three cases of exceptionally bad driving - each was potentially fatal whilst normally I might see one such every month or so. The policemen got the thumbs up from me.

A nearby force (I have never been in the police) heard that there might be a barney in their area so (I am told) everyone including those off duty got into uniform to go and sort 'em out. The officer who told me was put out because he couldn't go - he was doing an introduction for police cadets and had to ensure that they were nowhere around at the time.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@sejintenej

A nearby force (I have never been in the police) heard that there might be a barney in their area so (I am told) everyone including those off duty got into uniform to go and sort 'em out. The officer who told me was put out because he couldn't go - he was doing an introduction for police cadets and had to ensure that they were nowhere around at the time.


I really should just go Google this one, as it must be slang that is eluding me at this time. In the meantime I'm cackling at the image of them turning out in force to track down either Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show, or the infamous purple dinosaur.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Not_a_ID


I really should just go Google this one, as it must be slang that is eluding me at this time. In the meantime I'm cackling at the image of them turning out in force to track down either Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show, or the infamous purple dinosaur.

Barney: fight between groups, not necessarily organised gangs. Could be between supporters of different football (soccer) teams. Perhaps even the public v police after a shooting though normally understood to be less violent (fists as opposed to firearms etc)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Barney: fight between groups, not necessarily organised gangs. Could be between supporters of different football (soccer) teams. Perhaps even the public v police after a shooting though normally understood to be less violent (fists as opposed to firearms etc)


A barney is usually just two idiots short of a riot.

JohnBobMead

@awnlee jawking

The story I read about Hawking and Trump is from The Borowitz Report, a column in The New Yorker. The thing you need to realize is that this is a satire column. It's bogus. Didn't happen.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@JohnBobMead

So it's another attempt at "I can see Russia from my back yard."

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