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The Sunday Bits for January 23, 2011

January 23rd, 2011 at 05:52pm

Another small set for this weekend.

First off, do you have trouble remembering what you read on this page? If you do, then it might help if I use an archaic font.

A study by Princeton University found that a significant number of those tested could recall more information when it was presented in unusual typefaces rarely used in textbooks.

The research suggests that introducing ‘disfluency’ – by making information superficially harder to understand – deepens the process of learning and encourages better retention.

The psychologists said information which has to be actively generated rather than ‘passively acquired’ from simple text is remembered longer and more accurately.

The study raises questions over how much fonts like Times New Roman and Arial, which are used in the majority of academic books, help readers revise for tests.

American author and psychologist Jonah Lehrer had written about the idea of disfluency in his Wired.com blog before the research was published.
[..]
He said the study showed the whole history of typography was had missed the point when it comes to learning.

Mr Lehrer said: ‘It has been a movement towards easy to read fonts. We assume that anything which makes it easier to see the content is a good thing.

‘This is especially the case in classrooms where teachers assume legibility makes it easier for kids to learn and remember information.

‘That turns out to be exactly backwards.

‘Disfluent fonts, the ones people tend to laugh off, fonts that are comically ugly, they tend to be the best for learning and for memory.’

‘When we see a font that is easy to read we’re able to process that in a mindless way, but when we see an unfamiliar font, one full of weird squiggles, we have to work a little bit harder.

‘That extra effort is a signal to the brain that this might be something worth remembering.’

(h/t: The Daily Mail)

This points to a wider disconnect in logic in the education system if, on the one hand, clear text in textbooks is a generally accepted method of revision for exams, while on the other hand making students copy down notes from overhead projectors, blackboards or whiteboards makes the students more likely to remember the notes than if they had simply read them from a book. The latter option forces students to process the information and be more likely to remember the information, much like the archaic text favoured by the study.

My personal experience matches the study as well. I found that revising from textbooks was a waste of my time as it didn’t enhance my knowledge of subjects in the slightest, and I did just fine without the revision. I also found it incredibly difficult to learn anything in a class which was based entirely on reading from a very legible text. It was much easier to absorb the information if I read it aloud…but this was not possible in that classroom, so I failed the class.

***

There are perfectly good reasons for not allowing pets to sleep on your bed, although we seem to have another reason to add to the list now.

Most U.S. households have pets, and more than half of those cats and dogs are allowed to sleep in their owner’s beds, Drs. Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Ben Sun, chief veterinarian for California’s Department of Health, say in a study to be published in next month’s issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The authors, both experts in zoonoses, which are diseases or infections transmitted from animals to humans, reported that “the risk for transmission of zoonotic agents by close contact between pets and their owners through bed sharing, kissing or licking is real and has even been documented for life-threatening infections such as plague, internal parasites” and other serious diseases.

(h/t Andrew Schneider — AOL News)

When it comes to dogs, it is quite destructive to the social order to allow them to regularly sleep with you. The hierarchy of dogs is such that the leader of the pack picks the most desirable sleeping spot, the next dog in line picks the next most desirable spot and so on. Allowing your dog to sleep with you elevates them to your level in the hierarchy, undermining your authority.

Inviting your dog on to your bed is acceptable, as a treat, but most definitely not as a regular “you are welcome here whenever you like” occurrence.

***

John Laws and 2SM have now publicly confirmed what we have all known for weeks, and what 2SM have had up on their website for at least the last two weeks. John Laws is back, and will be hosting the morning show on 2SM and network stations from January 31.

But Laws has only agreed to front a 9am-noon show on the Sydney and regional network of more than 70 stations – including non-Caralis ones in Alice Springs, Tasmania and Katherine – for an indeterminate time and has not locked a long-term deal.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be back on air but I can’t wait to be talking to Australians around the country again,” he said.

(h/t Sydney Confidential — The Daily Telegraph)

The number of stations is debatable as a lot of that “more than 70” appears to be transmitter sites rather than actual stations, but it will be good to have Lawsie back on the air regardless. I doubt that he’ll make much of a dent in the Sydney market (will 2SM even re-enter the ratings?) but I don’t think that’s the point. Lawsie is bored with retirement and wants to get back to doing what he loves. He, the industry, and his audience are lucky that he is able to do so.

***

Speaking of which, I noticed that when Jason Morrison was on Seven’s Sunrise the other day, David Koch went along with notion that Jason is currently unemployed and looking for work. Whilst this might be true technically, we all know that the reason he hasn’t signed the 2UE contract yet is that he is still under contract with 2GB and will be presenting the 2UE breakfast show just as soon as the contracts allow. It was nice of Kochie to wish Jason all the best with the job hunt though…I suppose it’s one wish that can easily be foreseen to come to fruition.

***

That’s all for this week. See you next week!

Samuel

Entry Filed under: The Sunday Bits

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