This link courtesy of USA Today – 1 in 7 adults in America can’t read material more challenging than a children’s picture book. While some states, such as Mississippi actually made gains since the last similar federal study from 1992, many larger states saw increases in illiteracy. Undiagnosed learning disabilities, immigration, and high school dropout rates are listed as the main culprits.
Time Magazine reviews two related books here. One book, by Hanna Holmes, details the many ways that humans are really just animals with fancier language skills. While Holmes attempts to describe humans using language normally reserved for animals, Temple Grandin does just the opposite. Grandin, a skilled author noted for her autistic background, describes animals using language normally reserved for humans. Both books seem interesting; the article itself is a good read.
The New York Times, and New York Times Magazine have hosted a couple of pieces by Steven Pinker in the last few weeks – one on how Chief Justice Roberts’ gaffe in administering the oath of office occurred precisely because Roberts is such a stickler for proper grammar. His mistake of accidentally attempting to correct the Constitution illustrates the potential dangers of nitpicking language. In the other, Pinker entertainingly digresses concerning the likely influence of genetics over our personalities. Usually these influences are more probabilistic rather than deterministic.