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(Salon)   Study: Reading novels makes us better thinkers. New research says reading literary fiction helps people embrace ambiguous ideas and avoid snap judgments   (salon.com) divider line 23
    More: Interesting, literary fiction, academic journal  
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2032 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Jun 2013 at 12:30 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-06-15 12:52:13 PM  
7 votes:
This message brought to you by the American Council of People Who Couldn't Get Degrees Involving Math. I have a PhD in a Physics and am an avid fiction reader. I can see the results they are talking about by just talking to people. People who read fiction have a lot of practice with the "what if..." means of problem solving, they tend to be more open minded about other ways of doing things and find it easier to see things from a different point of view. People who don't read fiction tend to be more focused on the here and now and want concrete answers. Ironically, the real world often gives us situations that are uncertain, have more than one solution, and where concrete answers that seem immediately obvious, are generally wrong.

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

You need to get out more - try the politics tab.
2013-06-15 01:08:25 PM  
4 votes:

Munchkin City Coroner: For thousands of years, religious texts have proven that reading fiction does not lead to open-mindedness.


Actually, the best way to become an atheist is to actually read the bible.  Most Christians do not do so, and the same is true of most religions and their holy books.

I was raised Mormon.  I was always told to read the Book of Mormon, in order to improve my belief in the church.  Every time I read it, I only had more doubts.  Then I realized I was not supposed to actually read it, only feel guilty for not having read it.  Same thing went for the Bible or other religious books.  You read them, then you realize that the authors were a bunch of bronze aged goat herders who were trying to justify some pretty ugly behavior.  Well, except for the Book of Mormon, that was Bible fan fiction.
2013-06-15 12:53:21 PM  
4 votes:

Quaker: I'm not sure about that:
[cdn.www.carm.org image 224x184]


Usually, the religious people who you need to worry about are the ones who haven't read it. Most jesus nuts haven't actually read the bible, they've read books (who are we kidding, they've read pamphlets) picking and choosing passages, out of context, for them to pay attention to.

On a different note, I challenge anyone to read a book like Les Miserables and come out with the same perspective on life they went in with. Go ahead, I dare you.
2013-06-15 05:33:45 PM  
2 votes:

Benevolent Misanthrope: flucto: This message brought to you by the American Council of People Who Couldn't Get Degrees Involving Math Aren't Willing to Do What It Takes to Make Their Lives What they Want Them To Be, and Instead Opt for Constant Escapism.

Not necessarily a fix, just another option.  I know someone who reads only fiction and cheerfully admits it's escapism.  I prefer making my reality pleasant to escaping it because I don't like it.  Plus, I don;t have the aded wkwardness of being slammed back to reality from time to time.


You've both incorrectly identified 'escapist literature' with 'delusional'.  Why is fiction so bad but meditation or deep breathing exercises - other forms of stress-reducing 'escapism' - acceptable (assuming you find such things so)?  A good solid chunk of well-written fiction can introduce new ideas and inspire interest in new subjects.
2013-06-15 03:59:37 PM  
2 votes:

cptjeff: Canton: Oh, and I have actually read some Shakespeare. Midsummer Night's Dream remains my favorite.

Macbeth is my favorite. Even got to play Macbeth (badly) during a production my English class put on in high school, nobody else wanted to take the lead. Of course, years later, during a reunion, some people mentioned it when talking to me, so I was either better than I thought or really, really bad.

But the dynamics in that play are just really, really fun. Macbeth's conscience bugging him, his wife responding by pushing him even further into the mess they've gotten themselves into, their simultaneous descents into utter insanity. The ghost of Banquo, the witches... Yeah, it's a great one.

Ya know, if I ever take the leap from working in politics to running for office, I'm going to use having played that part to answer the "what inspired you to run for office?" question, just to see the reaction.


Oh, of the tragedies, Macbethhas a special place in my heart. For whatever reason, the twist ending sticks with me. You know, Macduff having been "from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd." That may be a graphic line, but I always think of it when a C-section is mentioned now. (Is that weird?)

That, and the gender role reversal of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is just... well, extreme. Which is the point. But it's still a great example of Shakespeare's fun with gender bending.

Midsummer Night's Dream, though? It's the first Shakespeare play I ever read. It's relatively accessible, which makes the humor shine that much brighter. I don't know. It just makes me smile.
2013-06-15 03:47:32 PM  
2 votes:

Canton: Oh, and I have actually read some Shakespeare. Midsummer Night's Dream remains my favorite.


Macbeth is my favorite. Even got to play Macbeth (badly) during a production my English class put on in high school, nobody else wanted to take the lead. Of course, years later, during a reunion, some people mentioned it when talking to me, so I was either better than I thought or really, really bad.

But the dynamics in that play are just really, really fun. Macbeth's conscience bugging him, his wife responding by pushing him even further into the mess they've gotten themselves into, their simultaneous descents into utter insanity. The ghost of Banquo, the witches... Yeah, it's a great one.

Ya know, if I ever take the leap from working in politics to running for office, I'm going to use having played that part to answer the "what inspired you to run for office?" question, just to see the reaction.
2013-06-15 02:31:49 PM  
2 votes:

Dion Fortune: I dislike reading fiction most of the time.  I often feel like the author is trying to shove their ideology down my throat, using a contrived, fictitious story as supposed evidence


What fiction are you reading? If you can detect a blatant agenda in fiction, it could be a sign that the fiction isn't very good. Authorial bias is always there. Good authors try to make it subtle and/or natural; they usually don't beat you over the head with it. There are a lot of bad authors out there, though.

Why read a novel when I could be reading something interesting or useful? (Ok, so I do like watching movies and tv.)

Novels do certain things better than movies/TV. It's quite difficult to depict what a character is thinking on a screen, while it's insanely easy to do that in a novel. Since movies/TV cost more to make than novels, movies/TV have to chase eyeballs and revenue more blatantly than novels do. This means that movies/TV tend to lack subtlety and cater to whatever's currently fashionable. (OK, novels are fashion-driven to some extent, but most novelists don't have as many producers and focus groupies hollering at them demanding more fanservice/more fight scenes/more product placement.)
2013-06-15 01:47:09 PM  
2 votes:

Canton: /Hasn't read the Bible.
//Keeps meaning to.
///Meh.



Slowly working on a cover to cover reading of the KJV, myself, in between other stuff. It is probably the most significant work ever written, and the KJV is the version that really shaped the english language and english speaking culture, so it's something you should read, if for no other reason than that. Besides, the poetry of stuff like psalms and proverbs really is beautiful. Psalm 23, as written in the KJV, is one of the best bits of poetry the human race has ever written. So while I'm not so hot on a lot of aspects of organized religion, it has given us some really wonderful stuff. Art, literature, poetry, architecture, music...

Everybody should read at least some of the more culturally significant parts of the Bible and at least a few of the more significant plays of Shakespeare. And to complete the trifecta, a book about Abraham Lincoln.

Yes, Lincoln. The top three most written about people in history, at least in English (and very possibly including other languages) are, in order, Jesus, Shakespeare, and Abraham Lincoln.
2013-06-15 12:51:09 PM  
2 votes:
For thousands of years, religious texts have proven that reading fiction does not lead to open-mindedness.
2013-06-15 12:44:59 PM  
2 votes:
Twilight still sucks
2013-06-15 11:10:39 AM  
2 votes:
This message brought to you by the American Council of People Who Couldn't Get Degrees Involving Math.
2013-06-15 10:12:56 PM  
1 votes:

cptjeff: Benevolent Misanthrope: but just didn't interest me nearly as much as the new biography of Heinrich Himmler.

Do we need to read anything into this?


Only that I have an interest in German history.  In the sense of "WTF happened??? And more importantly, how do we keep it from ever happening again?"
2013-06-15 06:51:23 PM  
1 votes:

New Farkin User Name: Benevolent, sometimes you need to wade through the shiat to find that one shiny nickle.


Yup. The classics aren't representative of the literature of their era. The good stuff endures, the transient crap fades into dust. Same with music, movies, and just about everything else. We don't bother preserving every cheap tenement, but we do preserve fine architecture. Well, unless you're MOMA, I suppose.
2013-06-15 05:30:08 PM  
1 votes:

Benevolent Misanthrope: Smackledorfer: Benevolent Misanthrope: Seriously, the popular fiction I see these days coming through the library is absolutely abysmal.  I could do better, but I don't have the time or interest to write a novel, and it would never get published due to lack of mommy-porn.  Novels are driven by the lowest common denominator of the anticipated audience.  And that is low indeed.

'I am better than everyone, both the readers and the writers, but I shall not stoop so low as to prove it'

Nothing arrogant or obnoxious about that, is there?

Are you actually going to white-knight 50 Shades of Grey?

Do proceed.  I'll go make popcorn.


Oh, were you only referring to a specific book? Because your choice of words led me to believe you far more general in your criticisms.

In that case, let me laugh even harder at your assertion of being a potential novelist.
2013-06-15 02:46:24 PM  
1 votes:

danceswithcrows: Dion Fortune: I dislike reading fiction most of the time.  I often feel like the author is trying to shove their ideology down my throat, using a contrived, fictitious story as supposed evidence

What fiction are you reading? If you can detect a blatant agenda in fiction, it could be a sign that the fiction isn't very good. Authorial bias is always there. Good authors try to make it subtle and/or natural; they usually don't beat you over the head with it. There are a lot of bad authors out there, though.

Why read a novel when I could be reading something interesting or useful? (Ok, so I do like watching movies and tv.)

Novels do certain things better than movies/TV. It's quite difficult to depict what a character is thinking on a screen, while it's insanely easy to do that in a novel. Since movies/TV cost more to make than novels, movies/TV have to chase eyeballs and revenue more blatantly than novels do. This means that movies/TV tend to lack subtlety and cater to whatever's currently fashionable. (OK, novels are fashion-driven to some extent, but most novelists don't have as many producers and focus groupies hollering at them demanding more fanservice/more fight scenes/more product placement.)


Read genre fiction.  Go grab some of the classic mysteries of the early 20th century - Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie.  Humor is also good - PG Woodhouse, Carl Hiaasen - even the Bridget Jones books.  You'll see great stuff about interpersonal communication, foibles that we all have, and lots of witty banter.
2013-06-15 01:48:41 PM  
1 votes:
The problem doesn't seem to lie in people reading the Bible per se.  The problem seems to lie in the fact that far too many people read it as non-fiction.  Reading it the same way you'd read Star Trek expanded universe novels seems fine.
2013-06-15 01:06:10 PM  
1 votes:
When they came up with this brilliant observation I wonder if they considered the "attitude/expectation/mindset" of the people reading a particular text.

Most of us don't have the same "attitude" toward the text when we read a "holy text" or essay as we do when we read Harry Potter. I would expect that to affect our state of mind as much as the text itself.
2013-06-15 12:58:14 PM  
1 votes:

Quaker: I'm not sure about that:
[cdn.www.carm.org image 224x184]


Munchkin City Coroner: For thousands of years, religious texts have proven that reading fiction does not lead to open-mindedness.


Perhaps, but for at least 1500 years of Christianity very few people had the chance to read a bible themselves, and for the last 500 years everyone has pretended to read it and just sorta guess whats in it based on hearsay... actually, that's 2,000 years, when was the bible first written? 400-500ad? Later? Ok, let's just forget that and say that almost no one ever reads the bible.
2013-06-15 12:48:08 PM  
1 votes:
I'm not sure about that:
cdn.www.carm.org
2013-06-15 12:41:06 PM  
1 votes:
izit.org
2013-06-15 12:39:01 PM  
1 votes:
This should be required for everyone in the politics tab.
2013-06-15 12:19:20 PM  
1 votes:
So that's why people read Salon.
2013-06-15 11:47:24 AM  
1 votes:
FTR: Ayn Rand's works aren't literary.

/most definitely fictional though
 
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