This is an odd little coincidence. Check out Paul Krugman's blog for June 26th on bad reading comprehension. It seems to be an epidemic.

I sense a startup opportunity.

Suppose you start a company that administers a basic reading comprehension test and issues a password to people who pass it online. Then imagine that the password would be needed to sign up for commenting on blogs and other online forums. The startup would sell its password services to websites looking to filter out people with bad reading comprehension.

As a consumer, if you pass the test once, your password is yours forever. You can use it as many times as you like for as many blogs and forums as you sign up for. You would be a certified "good reader."

I suppose you could extend the concept to include tests for history, politics and economics. Each time you pass a new test module, your lifetime password is given new rights that match the test you pass. Websites could determine what sort of test success they want to make a requirement for participation on their sites.

One problem with this idea is that it would severely limit the traffic for comments. But a website could allow everyone to comment and simply indicate which commenters are "good readers." That way you have the benefit of knowing who has a minimum set of qualifications to comment on a topic and who doesn't.
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Jul 20, 2011
You're saying limiting who can comment is a bad thing?! *Points to a multitude of posts of spamming idiots on this very page*
Jul 1, 2011
Unfortunately, for every yin there is a yang. If someone starts up a company that grades reading comprehension, there will be retaliation.

One method of retaliation is someone arguing a violation of freedom of speech, in which limiting the ability to comment does not prevent you to speak your thoughts elsewhere. In which creates the opposition, a website designed to link to any post and provide it own storage of comments that are not limited, defeating the system entirely.

I can go into further comment by relating this to current politics, but that would be out of place for this blog.
Jun 30, 2011
Ok, I'm starting to wonder here if it may be time for your readers to gather for an intervention here and lobby to have you included in the next round of Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab. Not sure exactly what to treat ya for, I'll leave it to the experts to figure that one out.

[Is that to say you wouldn't be interested in knowing what I'm really up to with all of this? -- Scott]
Jun 30, 2011
Clearly you need to check out www.xkcd.com/810 . I believe he has proposed a spam filter you may find useful.
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Jun 30, 2011
Might wanna move this discussion to an online book club (I don't think your topics will overlap Oprah's). First book would be The Eliminationists by Neiwert - http://amzn.to/ik5E2K
If anyone did create such a service, it would be fun to see how many of these super smart consumers would make their lifetime password, "password".
Jun 30, 2011
Scott, you're a mad genius. Please, don't ever listen to anyone.
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Jun 30, 2011
Here's my take on the whole "Reading Comprehension" thing in terms of replies to you. You've set up a false dichotomy in "Men want to have sex with strangers" and "Women don't want that to happen." That's only a negative want - there are a million things that men and won't do not want.

What's more interesting is looking at what women DO want to happen to them. They want their bodies to comport to an impossible image. A lot of them want a man to say he loves them, and mean it. They want to be treated like a princess. They want a guy who's willing to pick up after himself. They want a man who wants children. They want to be treated with respect and courtesy. I'd argue that women are also in somewhat of a perpetual state of unhappiness. Their desires are also being denied because there aren't that many guys out there that fulfill those needs and most women are unhappy with their body image.

A lot of people get really upset when you try to draw the connection between rape and male "urges." I think that obviously that's an emotional issue. But that doesn't get to the heart of your point. The point is that you think women have "won," but they haven't trained men to act like they'd like, they haven't created a society where they can feel comfortable with how they look, and they haven't achieved many of the goals that are important. Making rape criminal and making catcalls socially unacceptable isn't "winning," especially when you consider that despite that, 1/4 women will be the victim of violence or abuse in their lifetimes. That's hardly a "win" in my book.

[This was the conversation I was expecting when I wrote the offending piece. It's apples and oranges of course, in the sense that having a few extra pounds is socially acceptable whereas tweeting your junk to only one stranger is always wrong. It would be interesting to fill out the scorecard and see how it all shakes out. I wouldn't be surprised no matter how it came out. -- Scott]
Jun 30, 2011
Just let everybody comment. I am fascinated by all the diverse opinions that are generated by blogs. In our paper (the San Diego Union-Tribune) I enjoy reading all the comments entered in response to the various articles. They may not be particualarly articulate but they do capture a lot of feelings.
Individual feeling about blogs/articles is what you want. Don't screen people out of the process.
There is a lot of self-screening right now - if you are not interested, you don't participate.
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Jun 30, 2011
I think in your case and his this quote he made fits more than the Reading Comprehension issue:

"Or maybe it’s just that extremists can’t grasp the notion of non-extreme positions held by other people."
Jun 30, 2011

Are you suggesting that the Nobel committee has poor reading comprehension?


Could you do us a favour? If you are going to use the name "language," could you at least pay a bit more attention to grammar and wording?

+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 30, 2011
Must've been something in the stars! I just posted on FB last week that the world would be a better place if people had better reading comprehension skills! (Nothing to do with your blog, though. I'm a technical writer and had a heck of a time at work trying to explain to someone what a sentence meant.)
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 30, 2011
This wouldn't work because 1) you're asking people to do something extra that is drab and 2) people would just copy answers from sites designed to get around this kind of thing (think of bugmenot.com).

Instead, if you wanted this kind of thing, you would need something not based on knowledge (which frankly wasn't your problem with your recent controversy) but based on previous items you have liked and not liked on the Internet. And while you may marginally improve your readership's support, it will always happen that you'll have one reader who agreed with you on everything until one scathing post, and now they hate you forever. That same person can give your stuff to a media outlet who is out to get you, and bam, you're back to square one.

Besides, I wouldn't want to see political blogs of one side blocking people from the other side. Things are divided enough as they are.

The web already has the best filter there is: you like a site, you keep visiting. Newcomers will usually come from links from sites which are interested in you. If anything, I find the filter on the web to be too good, but at the same time, it does better than what we had before the Internet.
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Jun 30, 2011
I (and probably most of your readers) enjoy the posts where you are creative and focused on relevant topics in economics, politics, humor, etc.

This ongoing justification of yourself against any form of criticism is not your best work and unbecoming. Please get back to the good stuff.
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Jun 30, 2011
Poor reading comprehension could also arise out of a bias against the material, which in turn can arise from being too invested (emotionally) to interpret/make logical statements in/about the material (and typically, a person won't realize that they are too invested in the material/outcome of some discussion).

Detachment is not always an option for the emotionally invested. So either the emotionally invested must realize that he/she is too invested and take that into account, or something external has to take it into account.

And naturally, this applies to both sides, not just the opposing perspective from ones own.
If theres an epidemic, its one of lacking the ability be critical of ones own perspectives.

When two sides of a debate are too emotionally invested in opposing views and don't realize it, thats when it really starts getting ugly.

-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 29, 2011
Krugman accuses others of not reading? Pot, Kettle, Black.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 29, 2011

This is tough for bloggers when their thoughts are open to a billion readers worldwide. It's flattering or overwhelming for a moment, till the tunnel vision is broken and the landscape becomes visibile.

Writer's comprehension is tested; readers are who they are.
Jun 29, 2011
interestingly I had a similar idea to yours a while ago.

It differed in a couple of spots:

- I wouldn't use a password, but a rating ( profile ) associated per user. The user would be authenticated based on a technology like OpenID (openid.net). Basically the user needs to login on the Blog with his OpenID credentials (gmail, facebook,yahoo etc ) in order to read or comment on a blog post . The Blog site does an inquiry to the service provider and gets a profile of the user, and if the profile is incomplete it can transfer him to take some quiz. Based on the profile, the Blog can decide what the user is allowed to do.

- The profile mentioned earlier would be a combination of: age, gender, IQ, sense of humor, reading comprehension, etc. The Blog owner would chose what he is interested in in his readers/commenters.

- The most efficient and fun quizzes would be graphical - small cartoons - which would trigger different emotions in different kinds of people. ( For ex: a cartoon of Jesus in some sort of fun situation. The quiz would be: How do you feel about this: a) very funny, b) you bastard, how can you make fun of The Lord, etc. ).
Jun 29, 2011
OOH! You thought you had a controversial post BEFORE!!! You are in BIG TROUBLE NOW, Scott.

You seem to miss the point of today's outcome-based education. It is now politically incorrect to have children compete for grades, as that erodes their self-esteem. As we adults must lead by example, then any type of discrimination against those who do not comprehend what they read is, by PC definition, an assault on our children's right to feel really really good about themselves.

US children last year ranked 24th of 35 countries' children on a math test, and in the middle on science and reading. China's children were first in all categories. However, there's one place where we have the world beat: self-esteem. Our children kick the rest of the world's collective butts in feeling wonderful about themselves.

So keep your radical, crazy ideas to yourself, unless you want to see PC pickets outside your house. We can't let our children feel bad about themselves as they help us become ineffective in the world market. We must make sure they never are told that 2 2 does not equal 63, because that would hurt their feelings.

I hope you've learned your lesson by now, Scott. Make anyone feel bad, and you'll have people screaming at you because you are anti-good feelings. Try to establish an objective ranking that puts one person above another, and you have become the enemy.

Remember, it's not about results, nor is it about success. It's all about making sure that little Johnny doesn't ever, ever feel sad. I hope you will never again make anyone feel bad, Scott. Regardless of how much he or she could benefit. It's just not worth it anymore.
Jun 29, 2011

i am greatly intrigued by your post. you posit that the bad guys in question act from malice not mental error.

that someone would do this baffles me and my human experience. especially as we progress on continuum from poor, unemployed, uneducated towards rich, employed, educated

the journalists at jezebel are educated, have jobs, and have money. they benefit the most from having a society based on order.

i dont know anyone who i could imagine would lie in promotion of their agenda.

as i have blogged, i have come to conclusion that we write what we know. so if i call you a liar, its prolly cuz i know i am in my own heart. with that in mind, it suggests either yourself, or someone in close personal contact with you has lied to further their agenda.

im not provoking you, its more a critique of myself and all the harsh things i have said about others to be honest.

my question to you would be to build a case that this is malice not stupidity. teach me why this is the case, in the most objective way possible.

to start, they are educated, so that is big strike against them being 'confused' from the start. 1 malice
Jun 29, 2011
its hard for me to not see 90% of your ideas as posterchildren for what is wrong with leftwing paternal govt.

greater specialization requires atleast 1 of 2 things, knowledge or power. this always gets in way of privacy or rights of citizens.

cant we just leave well enough alone?

trying to force everyone to advance in the name of collectivism will leave some ppl behind, or bring them along as unwilling participants.

you are always thinking of new ways to advance and improve and progress. sadly all the easy good ideas have already been thought up. what is left are programs that require consent, extra $, organization, etc.

basically things govt has no right to expect nor claim from unwilling citizens who are free men with rights.

so for this example, you want to identify everyone and put them into caste system based on performance. its a good working base, but flies in face of SSN purposes and nazi papers; that is unless you plan for this to be all privately administered and voluntary. so then most ppl will not subject themself to this, and will take their internet traffic elsewhere, in the end $ will drive this scheme out of existence. so either you force with power of govt, or it fails because stupid ppl have disposable income.

great ideas, they just require govt to take from free men that which is their own, such things as property, privacy, rights to persue own interests.

a better question is when, if ever, is it acceptable for the state to subjugate the will of citizens for good deeds? if ppl are stupid and generally selfish, when is it morally ok for govt to turn them into serfs?

so ppl are stupid, maybe we should have cops monitor them while they transfer cereal from their bowls to mouths to make sure they dont waste precious food...

the virtue 'good/do goodery/compassion' cannot trump 'freedom' every time. ppl need freedom to be greedy, freedom to learn from mistakes, freedom to fail.

your optimization epiphanies all(*often) require societal wide consensus to be morally sound.
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