Field Notes — 05.20.14

Field Notes headerI Don’t Want to Be Right:  Why People Persist in Believing Things That Aren’t True

This article from The New Yorker explores the limits of rhetoric, the things that people continue to believe despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Maria Konnikova uses parental attitudes towards vaccines as a case study for whether facts, stories, science, or emotions can make people change their minds.  She discovered that neither appeals to logos, pathos, or ethos could convince these parents to change their beliefs.  The article goes on to explore why some misperceptions have more sticking power than others.

Where Yinz At:  Why Pennsylvania is the Most Linguistically Rich State in the Country

Full disclosure:  This writer is from Pennsylvania.  But, even if you’ve never stepped foot in the great state of PA, the Keystone State’s linguistic heritage may prove interesting.  Although it’s often overshadowed by more well-known local dialects (Creole, Pidgin, even New York City’s version of English), Pennsylvania boasts five distinct regional dialects within its borders.  This article’s analysis of PA provides an interesting look at the ways English can very significantly even in a fairly small geographical area.

The Ghost Writes Back

Amy Boesky’s lovely essay in The Kenyon Review considers the relationship between ghostliness and writing.  Boesky worked as a literal ghostwriter in the 80s and 90s, crafting teenage romance stories for a bestselling series. While working with the ideas of in-betweenness and liminal spaces, Boesky also writes about the ghostliness of academia, of graduate school, and of writing itself.

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