May 23, 2012

“Take whatever preconception you’ve decided to reinforce . . .

. . . and cite some Flesch-Kincaid numbers to make it scientific-y.”

All yesterday this damn foolish NPR story kept popping up.

Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th-Graders, Analysis Shows

I read the blog piece and wanted to tear out my hair. Why?

This, from Language Log, explains it all so much better than I could.

(Thanks to sensible @Stan Carey for tipping me and for helping me ramp down my annoyance.)


  1. Sheila Ryan on May 23rd, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    As Stan and I agree, there’s a load of nonsense in what’s spouted by right-wing Republican members of the US Congress, but it’s not where NPR indicates in the “sophomoric” piece.

  2. Sheila Ryan on May 23rd, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    From David Haglund’s Slate piece:

    The “analysis” cited in the NPR headline proves no such thing. It is merely the latest attention-grabbing use of the Flesch-Kincaid test, an enormously reductive little tool that measures two things: how long one’s sentences are, and how big the words are in those sentences. The results of that test are then rather brilliantly assigned a “grade-level,” giving headline-writers everywhere a faux-scientific excuse to call politicians stupid.