If you want to be honest, try explaining your culture to foreigners

One of the first things you learn as an English teacher is that you know tons of things about your language that you don’t know you know. When we speak, we’re constantly using grammatical rules that we never consciously learned. This creates odd situations when teaching English: you can tell someone what the right way [Read More…]

A writer’s rant about reading difficulty

I find the framing on this newstory insultingly stupid, which is ironic because it’s about the alleged stupidity of Congress. The story is that the level of sophistication that our congresscritters speak at has dropped a full grade level since 2005, and freshmen Republicans have the lowest level. My reaction to this is Go freshmen [Read More…]

In defense of evolutionary psychology, part 2: adaptationism and the reason human brains are so big

So in the first post of this series, I quoted the editors of The Adapted Mind as saying in effect that we can assume complex features of the human mind are evolutionary adaptations. And I know this is going to get them accused by some people of “adaptationism,” which is the alleged vice of assuming [Read More…]

What languages should you learn?

Andrew Sullivan links to a piece advocating for French over Mandarin. Very interesting piece, and the author may be right about the virtues of French, but I wonder if he underestimates Mandarin. He argues that the problem with Mandarin is the writing system: [Read more…]

Pimsleur > Rosetta Stone

I spent the summer after I graduated college traveling Europe, with two weeks in Tunisia at the end. To prepare, I tried to teach myself French using the Pimsleur method (think “a series of tapes,” except that this was the 21st century so I got the CDs from the library and transfered the tracks onto my iPod.) [Read More…]

Randal Rauser doesn’t know how to speak English

Apparently, Randal Rauser doesn’t know how to speak English–how else to explain two of the most recent posts on his blog, arguing first that many people who call themselves atheists should stop because they don’t know what “atheism” is, and then that Mormons are actually atheists. Um… wow. I’m tempted to wonder whehter he’s deliberately [Read More…]