Examining an educational urban legend

I love these kinds of stories.

Students know I’m a fan of sites like snopes.com and truthorfiction.com. The average person is too willing to accept what they “hear” without doing any verification. It’s not so much that these two sites do the work for you (although, for the most part, they do), but rather that they demonstrate how to go about verifying things for yourself.

FOXNews reports on a common email that claims you can still read paragraphs consisting mainly of words with the letters scrambled, as long as the first and last letters remain unchanged. As is the case with most good urban legends, there is some truth to it. Much of what is claimed, however, is false, and many of the specific facts (such as its claim of basis in a Cambridge study) are flat-out fictitious.

The article does a very good job of explaining and documenting its counterclaims, which in itself is a good model for students.

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