Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Why Reading Skills Matter

     This might just become yet another continuing feature of Liberty’s Torch.

     Time was, I was a member of a critique group that included some, shall we say, less than acute readers. They were prone to missing words, neglecting the significance of punctuation, especially “strong” punctuation (i.e., semicolons, colons, and periods), and generally misunderstanding what they read. The consequences included some tragi-comical exchanges and heated words, several of which involved me. I didn’t stay there long.

     Poor reading skills are generally thought to be a sign of low intelligence, but it’s not always so. Here’s an example of a person of moderately high intellect who simply assumed what he wanted to believe rather than actually reading the words before his eyes:

     The Washington Post’s Megan McArdle is supposed to be an intellectual who is so smart she is beyond partisanship. To her credit she bravely broke with the rest of the Washington press corps and dared to criticize those who defended looting. But in her very next tweet she showed that she believes property insurance to be “some kind of magic that makes all problems disappear.”

     What do you think, Gentle Reader? Was Buck predetermined to condemn a woman of immense intelligence, good sense, and sound ethics despite the obvious meaning of her statement? Or did he merely “miss the sarcasm tag” out of a lack of acuity?

     Smart people make mistakes, too. I know it well. But some mistakes are more damaging than others – and the error can blow back upon oneself in ruinous fashion, especially if one is praising one’s own intellect and ethics by contrast and implication.

     Never get so smart that you forget to think...and to read carefully.


Borepatch said...

I don't think that she believes that insurance is magic. I think that she was (sarcastically) commenting on the lack of knowledge and imagination of what is (laughably) called the "educated class".

Francis W. Porretto said...

Exactly, Borepatch. That was my point.