Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Reasons to Read Shakespeare

If you had to read that headline twice, don't worry, so did I. I appreciate the acknowledgement that there are already so many reasons to read Shakespeare, but I had no idea that some of the reasons themselves might be bad.

The article first cites the whole "Shakespeare's unusual word choice and structure makes your brain work harder" argument that came up a few years ago as the first of the bad reasons.  You want to know why it's a bad reason?  Here, let me quote the article for you:

There are easier and quicker ways, I’m sure, to boost your neural activity if that’s what you really want to do.
I love the "I'm sure" thrown into it.  Is this your graduate thesis?  They love it when that expression comes up.  "Well no, I don't actually have any evidence to support my case, but you know, I'm sure there is some." Cite counter evidence or GTFO, as they say in the forums.

Second is the "easier and quicker ways" argument. I have no doubt that there are.  Not everybody evaluates their educational path by asking "What's the quickest and easiest way for me to get there?"

The second bad reason is that reading great literature makes us more empathetic, compassionate, better people. At least, so says the 2013 paper she references.  But ha!  That paper is obviously ridiculous because there's counter evidence ... published in 1963.  Methinks the time-traveller doth protest too much.

Let me rephrase the second half of the article:  "This dude Copernicus says that the sun is the center of the universe, but I mean duh, come on, really, Ptolemy already proved that the Earth is the center of the universe, like, a thousand years ago."

I'm all for scientific research, and if somebody publishes something that says one thing, it's the job of those reading it to try and debunk it. I just don't think this article does a good job.

No comments: