CSI | Resources

CSI | Resources


CSI collects resources of interest to skeptics from around the web. If you maintain a website or know of one we've missed, feel free to contact us!

CSI Fellows

Stephen Barrett

M.D., psychiatrist, author, consumer advocate, Allentown, Pa.

Andrew Fraknoi

Astronomer, Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

Henri Broch

Physicist, Univ. of Nice, France

Paul Kurtz

Chairman of CSI, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo.

Elizabeth Loftus

Professor of Psychology, Univ. of Washington.

John Paulos

Mathematician, author, Temple University.

Massimo Polidoro

Science writer, author, executive director CICAP, Italy.

Richard Dawkins

Ethologist and evolutionary biologist, Oxford University

Robert Sheaffer

Science writer.

Richard Wiseman

Public Understanding of Psychology.

Astrology and Astronomy

Astrology & Science

Articles covering scientific, historical and philosophical issues, and the results of scientific research.

Bad Astronomy

Corrects misinformation about astronomy.


Books by Charles Darwin

National Center for Science Education

No Answers in Genesis!


Usenet newsgroup devoted to the discussion and debate of biological and physical origins.

Health and Psychology

American Council on Science and Health

Consumer education consortium concerned with issues related to nutrition, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, environment and health.

American Family Foundation

A secular, nonprofit, tax-exempt research center and educational organization founded in 1979.


“All you need to know about Chiropractic”

False Memory Syndrome Foundation

Discusses the controversy raging over "recovered memories."

Is Therapeutic Touch valid?

National Council Against Health Fraud


Operated by CSI fellow Stephen Barrett, M.D.


Skeptical Briefs

Newsletter of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

Index to Skeptical Inquirer and other publications

Prometheus Books (UK)

Prometheus Books (USA)

Skeptical Inquirer

Magazine of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Skeptic Magazine

The Skeptic magazine

Skeptic Blogs



Evolution Blog

Commentary on developments in the endless dispute between evolution and creationism.

Skeptics’ Circle

Carnival designed to combat misinformation, pseudoscience, quackery, and paranormal claims that proliferate in the blogosphere.

Smoke and Mirrors

A NewsOK.com blog whose purpose is to critically examine extraordinary claims.

Skeptical Forums

CFI Forums

Discussion forums for CSI's supporting organization, the Center for Inquiry

Skeptical Organizations and Services

James Randi Educational Foundation

The Amazing One's home page.

Skeptics Society

Zetetics Laboratory of the University of Nice, France

“the one and only university lab officially devoted to the scientific study of the allegations of the paranormal.”

Skeptical Websites

Astronomical Pseudo-science: A Skeptic’s Resource List

Resources for those who want to examine some of the claims at the fringes of science that seem connected to astronomy.

Gary P. Posner, M.D.

Founder and Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Skeptics.

Penn State University Skeptics Club

Skeptical Pages by Tommy Persson.

Real audio skeptical reports.

Skeptic’s Digest

A gateway to the best skeptical articles on the Web about the unexplained, paranormal and pseudoscience.

The Skeptic Friends Network

Skeptic News

Tracks new information on various skeptical web pages.

The Debunker’s Domain

Victor J. Stenger

Professor of Physics, Skeptic

Transcendental Meditation

Meditation Information Network

“Supporting critical examination of the programs associated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi”




Bad UFO’s

Reflections on UFOs, skepticism, and practically anything else by Robert Sheaffer, author of "UFO Sightings."

Condon Report

Text of the 1968 project carried out under an Air Force contract by the University of Colorado, directed by Dr. Edward Condon.

Debunker UFO Files

Kjetil Kjernsmos skeptic page Norway

Saucer Smear

The Truly Dangerous Co.

Special effects experts examine the "alien autopsy" film.

UFO Skeptic’s Toolkit

Contains lots of UFO material, and some newsletters.

Urban Legends


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Urban Legend Archive

CSI | A Skeptic’s Guide to Podcasts

CSI | A Skeptic’s Guide to Podcasts

A Skeptic’s Guide to Podcasts

Get back issues, subscriptions, and merchandise at the CSI store.

D.J. Grothe

Volume 33.6, November / December 2009

As most of the readers of the Skeptical Inquirer probably know, podcasts are audio shows that are made available as downloadable digital files, often through free subscription services such as Apple’s iTunes. Over the last few years, the podcast has become an exciting medium for skeptics to reach out to new audiences while continuing to educate their existing members. Magazines, books, and television shows are no longer the only ways that people can get their regular fix of critical thinking and skeptical inquiry.

While there are so many great new podcasts promoting skepticism, here is a survey of some of the best and most popular. They vary in length and format: some are very short and feature just one person; others are long-format interview programs. While almost all are free, some require a paid subscription or a fee to listen to its archives. Some of the skeptical podcasts are humorous and involve a lot of banter, and some have specific themes, such as cryptozoology or conspiracy theories. The thing they all have in common is that they reach out to new people with a critical, rational, and scientific point of view toward pseudoscientific and paranormal claims.

The Conspiracy Skeptic

Started in late 2007, The Conspiracy Skeptic is hosted by Canadian Karl Mamer, an expert in conspiracy theories. The show focuses on various conspiracy theories, such as those promulgated by Alex Jones about the New World Order, those on the Moon landing hoax, and HIV/AIDS denialists’ theories that HIV/AIDS is a government plot. He also has had shows about The Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, vaccine conspiracy theories, and many more. Most shows are about a half hour and feature Mamer speaking on various topics rather than featuring expert guests on a regular basis.

The Geologic Podcast

Hosted by musician and comedian George Hrab, The Geologic Podcast features a monologue by Hrab, comedy sketches, and news about general developments in science and skepticism. Hrab doesn’t apply his skepticism merely to the paranormal or the pseudoscientific; he often turns a skeptical eye on religion with his regular humorous feature “Religious Moron of the Week.” This podcast is very funny, often containing adult humor. With episodes running about an hour in length on a weekly basis, this show is a favorite among skeptical podcast lovers.

The Infidel Guy Show

Started by trailblazer Reginald Finley in 1999, The Infidel Guy Show paved the way for Internet audio outreach about skepticism and related subjects. Most shows feature a listener call-in interview with an authority in a given field. While the majority of episodes focus on skepticism of religion and on atheism, many episodes have explored topics more central to the organized skeptical movement’s interests: psychics, ghosts, cryptozoology, and the like. Although listening to recent episodes is free, one must become a gold member ($8.50 monthly or $75 annually) to hear most of the episodes from over the last decade.

Logically Critical

Logically Critical was “intended to encourage critical thinking in everyday situations without the hassle of checking facts at the library.” The podcast ceased production in late 2007, but all previous shows are still archived online and available for free. The show often focused on one theme per episode and featured the host speaking on the topic at hand. Skeptically themed episodes included shows on ghosts, ancient monsters, the power of suggestion, the Law of Attraction, and the best-selling New Age book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Each episode is about a half hour and still worth a listen.

Point of Inquiry

As the host of Point of Inquiry, the weekly podcast of the Center for Inquiry (of which the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is a vital part), I often assume the role of “devil’s advocate” with my guests. The podcast was founded in late 2006, and almost two hundred episodes are available for free online as well as through iTunes and other podcatchers. While the program frequently focuses on topics in religion, ethics, philosophy, and public policy, it also concentrates on traditionally skeptical topics such as Bigfoot, ghosts, UFOs and alien abduction, pseudoarchaeology, psychic investigation, and alternative medicine in addition to a number of shows on conjuring and its relationship to skepticism. Each episode features a long-form interview with a leading thinker in science, skepticism, or philosophy, and most of the biggest names in the skeptical movement have appeared on the show, including Michael Shermer, James Randi, Joe Nickell, Ray Hyman, and Kendrick Frazer, as well as a number of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and other leading public intellectuals.

Pseudo Scientists

The podcast of the Young Australian Skeptics, Pseudo Scientists, has a pronounced fun and youthful vibe. The show begins with an often humorous short audio clip of some purveyor of pseudoscientific nonsense followed by a shout of “That’s Impossible!” It is hosted by Alastair Tait and features Jason Ball (a Center for Inquiry campus leader who recently spoke at CFI’s World Congress), Jack Scanlan, Jacqui Williams, Elliot Birch, and others. The podcast airs a couple times a month; each episode is over an hour in length and includes interviews, book reviews, and other segments, including witty banter among the hosts about skepticism and irrational trends in Australia and around the world.


Quackcast’s Web site declares it “A podcast review of Quacks, Frauds and Charlatans. Oops. That’s not right. That should be Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine i.e. SCAM.” Generally running over an hour, each episode features a critical and skeptical exploration of alternative medicine topics, such as herbal remedies, chiropractic, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Reiki, therapeutic touch, the medical efficacy of prayer, and even questions like “can high doses of Vitamin C shorten the duration of the common cold?”

Reality Check Podcast

Considered a Canadian version of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (see below), Reality Check Podcast is produced by the Ottawa Skeptics and features skeptical banter from some of the group’s members, including Jonathan Abrams and Xander Miller. The show focuses on various skeptical topics, such as the Moon landing hoax conspiracy theory, Bigfoot, various alternative medicine claims, pyramidology, and feng shui, and also features regular interviews of some of the leaders in the skeptical movement. Reality Check, like many of the other podcasts listed here, is a great example of what independent skeptical groups can accomplish even if they lack the resources of a national skeptical organization.

The Skeptic Zone

Sponsored by the organization Australia for Science and Reason, The Skeptic Zone is hosted by Richard Saunders. Each episode generally runs over an hour with multiple segments. Saunders frequently interviews luminaries of the skeptical movement, such as Joe Nickell, and engages in news reports and panel discussions with co-hosts Rachael Dunlop, Joanne Benhamu, and Eran Segev, among others. The Skeptic Zone shows how the new medium of podcasting allows for worldwide skeptical outreach with minimal investment relative to print publishing.


The skeptical movement owes a lot to “Derek and Swoopy,” hosts of the first skepticism podcast, which started in April 2005. Skepticality is now the official podcast of Michael Shermer’s Skeptical Society. In September 2005, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, mentioned Skepticality during his keynote address about the iTunes music store. On that same day, co-host Derek Colanduno suffered a brain aneurysm. As a result, no new shows were produced until August 2006, after he had recovered, and now episodes appear about twice a month. The shows average an hour and feature interviews with famous skeptics, such as James Randi, Ben Radford, and Joe Nickell, in addition to skeptical and science news and extemporaneous chitchat between the co-hosts.

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

One of the top skeptical podcasts on iTunes, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, is a one-hour weekly talk show produced by the New England Skeptical Society, in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation. It is hosted by Dr. Steven Novella, professor of neurology at Yale University, along with his two brothers, Bob and Jay Novella, Rebecca Watson (founder of skepchick.org), and Evan Bernstein. Each episode features many segments, including a guest interview and a segment called “Science or Fiction,” in addition to a lot of light and witty conversation. The show covers a broad range of skeptical topics but generally avoids applying skepticism to religious faith claims except during some of the satire and jokes, which are a popular component of the banter among the co-hosts.

D.J. Grothe

D.J. Grothe's photo

D.J. Grothe is president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He is also the former Vice President and Director of Outreach Programs for the Center for Inquiry and associate editor of Free Inquiry magazine. He hosted the weekly radio show and podcast Point of Inquiry, exploring the implications of the scientific outlook with leading thinkers.


How Does the Brain Perceive Art? | Wired Science | Wired.com

How Does the Brain Perceive Art? | Wired Science | Wired.com

How Does the Brain Perceive Art?

In 1995, the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounted a controversial exhibition entitled “Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt,” in which works considered to be genuine Rembrandts were displayed alongside those done by his students and admirers. (These lesser paintings are often dismissed as “the school of Rembrandt.”) The point of the exhibition was to reveal the fine line between genius and imitation, authenticity and fakery.

A hundred years ago, about 700 works were attributed to Rembrandt. Over the course of the 20th century, that number declined by 50 percent, as critics and historians began searching for those tell-tale marks that distinguish the old master from his young pupils. Such critical distinctions have massive financial consequences: While a painting by celebrated Rembrandt pupil William Drost might sell for a few hundred thousand dollars — his best canvases can go for a couple million — a genuine Rembrandt is worth many times more. In 2009, a lesser Rembrandt portrait sold for $33 million.

What accounts for this staggering difference in value? One possibility, of course, is that there’s something inherently special about a real Rembrandt, that the Dutch painter filled his art with discernible flourishes that can be detected by observers. Although we might not be able to explain these minor differences, we still appreciate them at an unconscious level, which is why we hang Rembrandts in the Met and consign his imitators to the basement. Great art is not an accident.

The second possibility is that our aesthetic judgements are really complicated. While Rembrandt was an astonishingly talented artist, our response to his art is conditioned by all sorts of variables that have nothing to do with oil paint. Many of these variables are capable of distorting our perceptions, so that we imagine differences that don’t actually exist; the verdict of art history warps what we see. The power of a Rembrandt, in other words, is inseparable from the fact that it’s a Rembrandt. The man is a potent brand.

To test these competing hypotheses, a team of researchers at Oxford University, including Mengfei Huang, Holly Bridge, Martin Kemp and Andrew Parker, set up a simple experiment. They recruited 14 volunteers who were familiar with Rembrandt but had no formal training in art history. The subjects were then put into an fMRI machine and given the following instructions:

In this experiment you will see a sequence of 50 Rembrandt paintings. Before each image appears, an audio prompt will announce whether the upcoming painting is ‘authentic’ or a ‘copy’ (Please see background for further information on copies). A blank screen will appear for a few seconds after each image to allow you to relax your gaze.

The paintings themselves were all portraits, equally divided between Rembrandt and “school of Rembrandt.” While the subjects were staring at the paintings — they were given 15 seconds to look — the scanner was recording changes in cortical blood flow. Here’s where things get tricky: The mischievous scientists reversed the attribution of the paintings, so that half of the subjects were told that the real Rembrandts were actually copies. In theory, this experimental design would allow the scientists to distinguish between the neural response to the art itself and the response generated by the attribution. In the figure below, for instance, Painting A is authentic, while Painting B is a copy:

The first thing the researchers discovered is that there was no detectable difference in the response of visual areas to Rembrandt and “school of Rembrandt” works of art. The key word in that sentence is “detectable”: fMRI remains a crude tool, and just because it can’t pinpoint a significant difference between groups (especially given these limited sample sizes) doesn’t mean there is none. That said, it’s not exactly surprising that such similar paintings would elicit virtually identical sensory responses. It takes years of training before critics can reliably discern real Rembrandt from copies. And even then there is often extensive disagreement, as the 1995 Metropolitan show demonstrates.

However, the scientists did locate a pattern of activity that appeared whenever a painting was deemed to be authentic, regardless of whether or not it was actually “real.” In such instances, subjects showed a spike in activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a chunk of brain just behind the eyes that is often associated with perceptions of reward, pleasure and monetary gain. (According to the scientists, this activation reflects “the increase in the perceived value of the artwork.”) Interestingly, there was no difference in orbitofrontal response when the stamp of authenticity was applied to a fake Rembrandt, as the brain area responded just as robustly. The quality of art seemed to be irrelevant.

The last meaningful result from the fMRI experiment came when the subjects stared at the inauthentic portraits. It turns out that these fake Rembrandts generated the strongest activations, both in the frontopolar cortex and precuneus. The scientists explain this activation in terms of working memory, as the people were actively trying to “detect the flaws in the presented image.” Because the portraits looked like real Rembrandts — and in many instances were — the subjects were forced to search for visual blemishes to justify the negative verdict, analyzing the paintings for flaws and mistakes that Rembrandt would never make. All of this mental analysis requires frontal lobe activity; being a critic is hard work. Here is Parker, summarizing the results:

Our findings support the idea that when people make aesthetic judgements, they are subject to a variety of influences. Not all of these are immediately articulated. Indeed, some may be inaccessible to direct introspection but their presence might be revealed by brain imaging. It suggests that different regions of the brain interact together when a complex judgment is formed, rather than there being a single area of the brain that deals with aesthetic judgements.

These lessons don’t just apply to the evaluation of art. In fact, the same mental process also appears to drive our appreciation of expensive wine. In both instances, the sensory differences on display — say, the visual distinction between a real and fake Rembrandt, or the taste of Trader Joes Pinot versus a Romanee-Conti — are overwhelmed by our cognitive beliefs about what we’re experiencing. Consider this recent experiment led by neuroeconomists at Caltech. Twenty people sampled five Cabernet Sauvignons that were distinguished solely by their retail price, with bottles ranging from $5 to $90. Although the people were told that all five wines were different, the scientists weren’t telling the truth: There were only three different wines. This meant that the same wines would often reappear, but with different price labels. For example, the first wine offered during the tasting — it was a cheap bottle of Californian Cabernet — was labeled both as a $5 wine (its actual retail price) and as a $45 wine, a 900 percent markup. All of the red wines were sipped inside an fMRI machine.

Not surprisingly, the subjects consistently reported that the more expensive wines tasted better. They preferred the $90 bottle to the $10 bottle, and thought the $45 Cabernet was far superior to the $5 plonk. By conducting the wine tasting inside an fMRI machine — the drinks were sipped via a network of plastic tubes — the scientists could see how the brains of the subjects responded to the different wines. While a variety of brain regions were activated during the experiment, only one brain region seemed to respond to the price of the wine, rather than the wine itself: the orbitofrontal cortex. In general, more expensive wines made this part of the brain more excited. The scientists argue that the activity of this region shifted the preferences of the wine tasters, so that the $90 Cabernet seemed to taste better than the $35 Cabernet, even though they were actually the same wine.

We want to believe that pleasure is simple, that our delight in a fine painting or bottle of wine is due entirely to the thing itself. But that’s not the way reality works. Whenever we experience anything, that experience is shaped by factors and beliefs that are not visible on the canvas or present in the glass. Even the most exquisite works in the world — and what is more exceptional than a Rembrandt portrait? — still require a little mental help. We only see the beauty because we are looking for it.

Top image: An authentic self portrait of Rembrandt. (Wikipedia/CC-licensed)


Geschwind syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geschwind syndrome - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geschwind syndrome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Geschwind syndrome
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 GroupMajor.minor
ICD-9 xxx
MedlinePlus 2003418
eMedicine overview/1186336

Geschwind syndrome, also known as "Gastaut-Geschwind" is a characteristic personality syndrome consisting of symptoms such as circumstantiality, hypergraphia, altered sexuality (usually hyposexuality, meaning a decreased interest), and intensified mental life (deepened cognitive and emotional responses), hyper-religiosity and/or hyper-morality or moral ideas that is present in some epilepsy patients. This syndrome is particularly associated with temporal lobe epilepsy occurring in the left hemisphere of the brain.

For identification, the term "Geschwind syndrome" has been suggested as a name for this group of behavioral phenomena. There has currently been both support [1] and criticism[2][3] in suggestion of this syndrome. Currently the strongest support arises from many clinicians who describe and attempt to classify patients with seizures with these personality features. The term Geschwind's Syndrome comes from one of the two people who first characterized the syndrome: Norman Geschwind. His associate was Stephen Waxman who also did a great deal of work in the field. Note that Geschwind's Syndrome can be seen both in the inter-ictal (between seizures) and the ictal (during seizures) states.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Blumer D (1999). "Evidence supporting the temporal lobe epilepsy personality syndrome". Neurology 53 (5 Suppl 2): S9–12. PMID 10496229.
  2. ^ Devinsky O, Najjar S (1999). "Evidence against the existence of a temporal lobe epilepsy personality syndrome". Neurology 53 (5 Suppl 2): S13–25. PMID 10496230.
  3. ^ eMedicine - Psychiatric Disorders Associated With Epilepsy : Article by William J Nowack

[edit] External links

Verbosity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Verbosity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Verbosity (also called wordiness, prolixity and garrulousness) in language refers to speech or writing which is deemed to use an excess of words. Adjectival forms are verbose, wordy, prolix and garrulous.



[edit] History

Veni, vidi, vici.

The balance between being clear and being concise is probably as old as writing itself. William Strunk[1] wrote about it in 1918. He advised "Use the active voice: Put statements in positive form; Omit needless words."[2]

Mark Twain (1835–1910) wrote "generally, the fewer the words that fully communicate or evoke the intended ideas and feelings, the more effective the communication."[3]

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), the 1954 Nobel prizewinner for literature, defended his concise style against a charge by William Faulkner that he "had never been known to use a word that might send the reader to the dictionary."[4] Hemingway responded by saying, "poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use."[5]

Blaise Pascal wrote in 1657, "I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter."[6]

Julius Caesar, Roman emperor (100 BC – 44 BC) spoke concisely of one of his military successes: "Veni, Vidi, Vici", that is, "I came, I saw, I conquered."[7]

[edit] Prolixity

Prolixity, from Latin prolixus, "extended" can take many forms in writing.

She came over near me and smiled with her mouth and she had little sharp predatory teeth. ... He walked slowly across the floor towards us and the girl jerked away from me ...
—Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

This could be seen either an effective stylistic device (eg expressing excitement or suspense), or as unnecessary bloating of language. The decision often rests with the reader.

Prolixity can also be used to refer to the length of a monologue or speech, especially a formal address such as a lawyer's oral argument.[8]

[edit] Grandiloquence

Grandiloquence is complex speech or writing judged to be pompous or bombastic diction. [9] It is a combination of the Latin words grandis ("great") and loqui ("to speak").[10][clarification needed] It is often used by people in elevated political positions.

Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, was noted as a grandiloquent speaker, with a florid style unusual even in his era:

"America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration[11]; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality..."[12][13][14]

A Democrat leader, William Gibbs McAdoo described Harding's speeches as "an army of pompous phrases moving across the landscape in search of an idea."[15]

Senator Robert C. Byrd ([clarification needed] of West Virginia) lost his position as Majority Leader in 1989 because his colleagues felt his grandiloquent speeches, often employing obscure allusions to ancient Rome and Greece, were not an asset to the party base.[16][clarification needed] This trait has been exemplified by oratory quoting Shakespeare in reference to the stock market.[17]

[edit] Logorrhea

In linguistics and editing, logorrhea or logorrhoea (from Greek λογόρροια, logorrhoia, "word-flux") is an excessive flow of words. It is often used pejoratively to describe prose which is highly abstract, and, consequently, contains little concrete language. Since abstract writing is hard to visualize, it often seems as though it makes no sense, and that all the words are excessive. Writers in academic fields which concern themselves mostly with the abstract, such as philosophy, especially postmodernism, often fail to include extensive concrete examples of their ideas; so an examination of their work might lead one to believe that it is all nonsense, hence the pejorative epithet "pomobabble" (a portmanteau of postmodernist babble).

In an attempt to prove this lack of academic rigor, physics professor Alan Sokal wrote a nonsensical essay, and had it published in a respected journal (Social Text) as a practical joke. The journal kept defending it as a genuine article even after its own author rebuked the editors publicly in a subsequent article in another academic journal. The episode has come to be known as the Sokal Affair.[18][clarification needed]

The widespread expectation that scholarly works in these fields will look at first glance like nonsense is the source of humor that pokes fun at these fields by comparing general nonsense with real academic writing. Several computer programs have been made that can generate texts resembling the styles of these fields but which are actually nonsensical. Some examples include: * SCIgen (which randomly generates fake research papers), "Mark V. Shaney" (which uses a Markov chain method to generate nonsense based on another text), Dissociated Press (which transforms any text into potentially humorous garbage), the Postmodernism Generator (which writes meaningless but superficially convincing essays in pomobabble), and the Automatic Complaint-Letter Generator (which creates realistic but tumid rants).

Logorrhea can also be used as a form of euphemism and obfuscation, to disguise unpleasant facts and ideas and mislead others about them.

The term is also sometimes less precisely applied to unnecessarily wordy speech in general; this is more usually referred to as prolixity. Some people defend the use of additional words which sometimes look unnecessary as idiomatic, a matter of artistic preference, or helpful in explaining complex ideas or messages.

[edit] Examples of logorrhea

In his essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946), the English writer George Orwell wrote about logorrhea in politics. He took the following verse (9:11) from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible:

"I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

He rewrote it like this:

"Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account."

Orwell’s deliberate usage of unnecessary words only serves to further complicate the statement. For instance, the words "objective", "contemporary" and "invariably" could be cut, with virtually no loss of meaning. What both the Bible and Orwell were trying to say could be paraphrased (albeit abstrusely) in three words: "Success is stochastic" or in four: "Fortune favors the bold" (obtusely) using alliteration.

The physicist and storyteller Richard Feynman describes a time when he took part in a conference discussing "the ethics of equality". Feynman was at first apprehensive, having read none of the books which the conference organizers had recommended. A sociologist brought a paper which he had written beforehand to the committee where Feynman served, asking everyone to read it. Feynman found it completely incomprehensible, and feared that he was out of his depth — until he decided to pick one sentence at random and parse it until he understood. The sentence he chose (to the best of his recollection) was:

The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels.

Feynman "translated" the sentence and discovered it meant "People read". The rest of the paper soon made sense in the same fashion.

Further examples are easy to find or create:

The medical community indicates that a program of downsizing average total daily caloric intake is maximally efficacious in the field of proactive weight-reduction methodologies.
(I.e., "Doctors say that the best way to lose weight is to eat less".)

[edit] The benefits of being concise

An inquiry into the 2005 London bombings found that verbosity can be dangerous if used by emergency services. It can lead to delay that could cost lives.[19]

Some authors may feel that using long and obscure words may make them seem more intelligent. A recent study from the psychology department of Princeton University found that this was not the case. Dr. Daniel M. Oppenheimer did research which showed that students rated those with short, concise text, as being texts written by the most intelligent authors. But those who used long words or complex font types were seen as less intelligent. [20]

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet [21]

Many common expressions can be made more concise. For example, 'near' instead of 'adjacent to', and 'to' instead of 'in order to'.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The Elements of Style: A Style Guide for Writers by William Strunk 1918
  2. ^ http://www.bartleby.com/141/
  3. ^ http://www.search.com/reference/Prolixity
  4. ^ Rovit, Earl; Waldhorn, Arthur (2006). Hemingway and Faulkner in Their Time. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 162. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  5. ^ The Yale book of quotations. Yale University Press. 2006. p. 353. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  6. ^ http://www.samueljohnson.com/apocryph.html#25
  7. ^ http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Julius_Caesar
  8. ^ Percy, Sholto; Reuben Percy (1826). The Percy Anecdotes. London: T. Boys. p. 9.
  9. ^ Dictionary.com - Grandiloquence
  10. ^ Grandiloquence - etymology
  11. ^ http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/24953.html
  12. ^ http://www.juntosociety.com/uspresidents/wghardng.html
  13. ^ http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc1601/article_1353.shtml
  14. ^ http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Warren_G._Harding
  15. ^ {http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/warrenharding
  16. ^ At 87, Byrd Faces Re-election Battle of His Career
  17. ^ Byrd speech from LOC
  18. ^ The Sokal Affair
  19. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/8374581/77-inquests-emergency-services-should-use-plain-English.html 7/7 inquests: emergency services should use plain English: the Telegraph, retrieved 11 March 2011
  20. ^ Oppenheimer, D. M. (2005), Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly, Applied Cognitive Psychology.
  21. ^ Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief. ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Circumstantial speech - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Circumstantial speech - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Circumstantial speech

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Circumstantiality)
Circumstantial speech (also referred to as circumstantiality) is a communication disorder in which the focus of a conversation drifts, but often comes back to the point.[1] In circumstantiality, unnecessary details and irrelevant remarks cause a delay in getting to the point.[2]
Circumstantial speech is less severe than tangential speech in which the speaker wanders and drifts and usually never returns to the original topic, and is far less severe than logorrhea.[3]



[edit] Symptoms

A person afflicted with circumstantiality has slowed thinking and invariably talks at length about irrelevant and trivial details (i.e. circumstances).[4] Eliciting information from such a person can be difficult since circumstantiality makes it hard for the individual to stay on topic. In most instances however, the relevant details are eventually achieved.
The disorder is often associated with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.[2]

[edit] Example

An example of circumstantial speech is that when asked about the age of a person's mother at death, the speaker responds by talking at length about accidents and how too many people die in accidents, then eventually says what the mother's age was at death.[1]
Similarly, a patient afflicted with this condition, for example, when asked about a certain recipe, could give minute details about going to the grocery store, the shopping experience, people there, and so on.

[edit] Treatment

Treatment often involves the use of behavioral modification and anticonvulsants, antidepressants and anxiolytics.[5]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Problem-Based Psychiatry by Ben Green 2009 ISBN 1846190428 page 15
  2. ^ a b "Merck Source Library". Dorland's Medical Dictionary found on Merck Source's website. 2002-2009. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Crash Course: Psychiatry by Julius Bourke, Matthew Castle, Alasdair D. Cameron 2008 ISBN 072343476X page 255
  4. ^ "A definition of circumstantiality". Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  5. ^ Svobada, William (April 5, 2004). Childhood Epilepsy: Language, Learning And Behavioural Complications. Cambridge University Press. p. 672. ISBN 0521823382.

Tangential speech

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tangential speech is a communication disorder in which the train of thought of the speaker wanders and shows a lack of focus, never returning to the initial topic of the conversation.[1] It is less severe than Logorrhea and may be associated with the middle stage in dementia.[1] It is, however, more severe than circumstantial speech in which the speaker wanders, but eventually returns to the topic.[2]
Some adults with right hemisphere brain damage may exhibit behavior that includes tangential speech.[3] Those who exhibit these behaviors may also have related symptoms such as seemingly inappropriate or self-centered social responses, and a deterioration in pragmatic abilities (including appropriate eye contact as well as topic maintenance).[4]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Forensic Aspects of Communication Sciences and Disorders by Dennis C. Tanner 2003 ISBN 1930056311 page 289
  2. ^ Crash Course: Psychiatry by Julius Bourke, Matthew Castle, Alasdair D. Cameron 2008 ISBN 072343476X page 255
  3. ^ Introduction to Neurogenic Communication Disorders by Robert H. Brookshire 2007 ISBN 0323045316 page 393
  4. ^ Perspectives on Treatment for Communication Deficits Associated With Right Hemisphere Brain Damage by Margaret Lehman Blake 2007 ISSN 10580360 page 333