Thoughts about Freakonomics

Freakonomics expanded

In general, this book is not so bad. But it is not so good either. Light nonfiction reading. I didnt read it for any particular reason other than curiosity and knowing that it wudnt take long anyway.

Chapter 2

An analysis of the language used in real-estate ads shows that

certain words are powerfully correlated with the final sale price of

a house. This doesn’t necessarily mean that labeling a house “well

maintained” causes it to sell for less than an equivalent house. It does,

however, indicate that when a real-estate agent labels a house “well

maintained,” she may be subtly encouraging a buyer to bid low.

Listed below are ten terms commonly used in real-estate ads. Five

of them have a strong positive correlation to the ultimate sale price,

and five have a strong negative correlation. Guess which are which.

Ten Common Real-Estate Ad Terms









Great Neighborhood


A “fantastic” house is surely fantastic enough to warrant a high

price, isn’t it? What about a “charming” and “spacious” house in a

“great neighborhood!”? No, no, no, and no. Here’s the breakdown:

Five Terms Correlated to a Higher Sale Price






Five Terms Correlated to a Lower Sale Price





Great Neighborhood

Three of the five terms correlated with a higher sale price are phys-

ical descriptions of the house itself: granite, Corian, and maple. As in-

formation goes, such terms are specific and straightforward—and

therefore pretty useful. If you like granite, you might like the house;

but even if you don’t, “granite” certainly doesn’t connote a fixer-

upper. Nor does “gourmet” or “state-of-the-art,” both of which seem

to tell a buyer that a house is, on some level, truly fantastic.

“Fantastic,” meanwhile, is a dangerously ambiguous adjective, as is

“charming.” Both these words seem to be real-estate agent code for a

house that doesn’t have many specific attributes worth describing.

“Spacious” homes, meanwhile, are often decrepit or impractical.

“Great neighborhood” signals a buyer that, well, this house isn’t very

nice but others nearby may be. And an exclamation point in a real-

estate ad is bad news for sure, a bid to paper over real shortcomings

with false enthusiasm.

If you study the words in ads for a real-estate agent’s own home,

meanwhile, you see that she indeed emphasizes descriptive terms

(especially “new,” “granite,” “maple,” and “move-in condition”) and

avoids empty adjectives (including “wonderful,” “immaculate,” and

the telltale “!”). Then she patiently waits for the best buyer to come

along. She might tell this buyer about a house nearby that just sold for

$25,000 above the asking price, or another house that is currently the

subject of a bidding war. She is careful to exercise every advantage of

the information asymmetry she enjoys.

Surprisingly, i got it wrong! Almost completely wrong. That almost never happens, so it kinda bugs me. :(

They were also a lot richer, taller, skinnier, and better-looking

than average. That, at least, is what they wrote about themselves.

More than 4 percent of the online daters claimed to earn more than

$200,000 a year, whereas fewer than 1 percent of typical Internet

users actually earn that much, suggesting that three of the four big

earners were exaggerating. Male and female users typically reported

that they are about an inch taller than the national average. As for

weight, the men were in line with the national average, but the

women typically said they weighed about twenty pounds less than the

national average.

Most impressively, fully 72 percent of the women claimed “above

average” looks, including 24 percent claiming “very good looks.” The

online men too were gorgeous: 68 percent called themselves “above

average,” including 19 percent with “very good looks.” This leaves

only about 30 percent of the users with “average” looks, including a

paltry 1 percent with “less than average” looks—which suggests that

the typical online dater is either a fabulist, a narcissist, or simply re-

sistant to the meaning of “average.” (Or perhaps they are all just prag-

matists: as any real-estate agent knows, the typical house isn’t

“charming” or “fantastic,” but unless you say it is, no one will even

bother to take a look.) Twenty-eight percent of the women on the site

said they were blond, a number far beyond the national average,

which indicates a lot of dyeing, or lying, or both.

Some users, meanwhile, were bracingly honest. Seven percent of

the men conceded that they were married, with a significant minority

of these men reporting that they were “happily married.” But the fact

that they were honest doesn’t mean they were rash. Of the 243 “hap-

pily married” men in the sample, only 12 chose to post a picture of

themselves. The reward of gaining a mistress was evidently out-

weighed by the risk of having your wife discover your personal ad.

(“And what were you doing on that website?” the husband might blus-

ter, undoubtedly to little avail.)

It might just be self-selection.

Of the many ways to fail on a dating website, not posting a photo

of yourself is perhaps the most certain. (Not that the photo necessarily

is a photo of yourself; it may well be some better-looking stranger, but

such deception would obviously backfire in time.) A man who does

not include his photo gets only 60 percent of the volume of e-mail re-

sponse of a man who does; a woman who doesn’t include her photo

gets only 24 percent as much. A low-income, poorly educated, unhap-

pily employed, not very attractive, slightly overweight, and balding

man who posts his photo stands a better chance of gleaning some

e-mails than a man who says he makes $200,000 and is deadly hand-

some but doesn’t post a photo. There are plenty of reasons someone

might not post a photo—he’s technically challenged or is ashamed of

being spotted by friends or is just plain unattractive—but as in the

case of a brand-new car with a For Sale sign, prospective customers

will assume he’s got something seriously wrong under the hood.

Getting a date is hard enough as it is. Fifty-six percent of the men

who post ads don’t receive even one e-mail; 21 percent of the women

don’t get a single response. The traits that do draw a big response,

meanwhile, will not be a big surprise to anyone with even a passing

knowledge of the sexes. In fact, the preferences expressed by online

daters fit snugly with the most common stereotypes about men and


Interesting. Altho the data from OKC is more optimistic. Check their blog with loads of data here:

Chapter 3

Along with the bad pay, the foot soldiers faced terrible job condi-

tions. For starters, they had to stand on a street corner all day and do

business with crackheads. (The gang members were strongly advised

against using the product themselves, advice that was enforced by

beatings if necessary.) Foot soldiers also risked arrest and, more worri-

some, violence. Using the gang’s financial documents and the rest of

Venkatesh’s research, it is possible to construct an adverse-events

index of J. T.’s gang during the four years in question. The results are

astonishingly bleak. If you were a member of J. T.’s gang for all four

years, here is the typical fate you would have faced during that period:

Number of times arrested 5.9

Number of nonfatal wounds or injuries 2.4

(not including injuries meted

out by the gang itself for rules


Chance of being killed 1 in 4

A 1-in-4 chance of being killed! Compare these odds with those

for a timber cutter, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the most

dangerous job in the United States. Over four years’ time, a timber

cutter would stand only a 1-in-200 chance of being killed. Or com-

pare the crack dealer’s odds to those of a death-row inmate in Texas,

which executes more prisoners than any other state. In 2003, Texas

put to death twenty-four inmates—or just 5 percent of the nearly 500

inmates on its death row during that time. Which means that you

stand a greater chance of dying while dealing crack in a Chicago hous-

ing project than you do while sitting on death row in Texas.

These budding drug lords bumped up against an immutable law

of labor: when there are a lot of people willing and able to do a job,

that job generally doesn’t pay well. This is one of four meaningful fac-

tors that determine a wage. The others are the specialized skills a job

requires, the unpleasantness of a job, and the demand for services that

the job fulfills.

The delicate balance between these factors helps explain why, for

instance, the typical prostitute earns more than the typical architect.

It may not seem as though she should. The architect would appear to

be more skilled (as the word is usually defined) and better educated

(again, as usually defined). But little girls don’t grow up dreaming

of becoming prostitutes, so the supply of potential prostitutes is

relatively small. Their skills, while not necessarily “specialized,” are

practiced in a very specialized context. The job is unpleasant and for-

bidding in at least two significant ways: the likelihood of violence and

the lost opportunity of having a stable family life. As for demand?

Let’s just say that an architect is more likely to hire a prostitute than

vice versa.

Chapter 4

In 1966, one year after Nicolae Ceaus¸escu became the Communist

dictator of Romania, he made abortion illegal. “The fetus is the prop-

erty of the entire society,” he proclaimed. “Anyone who avoids having

children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity.”

Such grandiose declarations were commonplace during Ceau-

s ¸escu’s reign, for his master plan—to create a nation worthy of the

New Socialist Man—was an exercise in grandiosity. He built palaces

for himself while alternately brutalizing and neglecting his citizens.

Abandoning agriculture in favor of manufacturing, he forced many of

the nation’s rural dwellers into unheated apartment buildings. He

gave government positions to forty family members including his

wife, Elena, who required forty homes and a commensurate supply of

fur and jewels. Madame Ceaus¸escu, known officially as the Best

Mother Romania Could Have, was not particularly maternal. “The

worms never get satisfied, regardless of how much food you give

them,” she said when Romanians complained about the food short-

ages brought on by her husband’s mismanagement. She had her own

children bugged to ensure their loyalty.

Ceaus ¸escu’s ban on abortion was designed to achieve one of his

major aims: to rapidly strengthen Romania by boosting its popula-

tion. Until 1966, Romania had had one of the most liberal abortion

policies in the world. Abortion was in fact the main form of birth

control, with four abortions for every live birth. Now, virtually

overnight, abortion was forbidden. The only exemptions were moth-

ers who already had four children or women with significant standing

in the Communist Party. At the same time, all contraception and sex

education were banned. Government agents sardonically known as

the Menstrual Police regularly rounded up women in their work-

places to administer pregnancy tests. If a woman repeatedly failed to

conceive, she was forced to pay a steep “celibacy tax.”

Ceaus ¸escu’s incentives produced the desired effect. Within one

year of the abortion ban, the Romanian birth rate had doubled. These

babies were born into a country where, unless you belonged to the

Ceaus ¸escu clan or the Communist elite, life was miserable. But these

children would turn out to have particularly miserable lives. Com-

pared to Romanian children born just a year earlier, the cohort of chil-

dren born after the abortion ban would do worse in every measurable

way: they would test lower in school, they would have less success in

the labor market, and they would also prove much more likely to be-

come criminals.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s ask an outrageous question:

what is the relative value of a fetus and a newborn? If faced with the

Solomonic task of sacrificing the life of one newborn for an indeter-

minate number of fetuses, what number might you choose? This is

nothing but a thought exercise—obviously there is no right answer—

but it may help clarify the impact of abortion on crime.

For a person who is either resolutely pro-life or resolutely pro-

choice, this is a simple calculation. The first, believing that life begins

at conception, would likely consider the value of a fetus versus the

value of a newborn to be 1:1. The second person, believing that a

woman’s right to an abortion trumps any other factor, would likely

argue that no number of fetuses can equal even one newborn.

But let’s consider a third person. (If you identify strongly with ei-

ther person number one or person number two, the following exercise

might strike you as offensive, and you may want to skip this para-

graph and the next.) This third person does not believe that a fetus is

the 1:1 equivalent of a newborn, yet neither does he believe that a

fetus has no relative value. Let’s say that he is forced, for the sake of ar-

gument, to affix a relative value, and he decides that 1 newborn is

worth 100 fetuses.

There are roughly 1.5 million abortions in the United States every

year. For a person who believes that 1 newborn is worth 100 fetuses,

those 1.5 million abortions would translate—dividing 1.5 million by

100—into the equivalent of a loss of 15,000 human lives. Fifteen

thousand lives: that happens to be about the same number of people

who die in homicides in the United States every year. And it is far

more than the number of homicides eliminated each year due to le-

galized abortion. So even for someone who considers a fetus to be

worth only one one-hundredth of a human being, the trade-off be-

tween higher abortion and lower crime is, by an economist’s reckon-

ing, terribly inefficient.

I dont like the conflation of the value of a newborn with that of any other nonfetus. See Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics.

Chapter 5

Has there ever been another art so devoutly converted into a science

as the art of parenting?

Over the recent decades, a vast and diverse flock of parenting ex-

perts has arisen. Anyone who tries even casually to follow their advice

may be stymied, for the conventional wisdom on parenting seems to

shift by the hour. Sometimes it is a case of one expert differing from

another. At other times the most vocal experts suddenly agree en

masse that the old wisdom was wrong and that the new wisdom is, for

a little while at least, irrefutably right. Breast feeding, for example, is

the only way to guarantee a healthy and intellectually advanced

child—unless bottle feeding is the answer. A baby should always be

put to sleep on her back—until it is decreed that she should only be

put to sleep on her stomach. Eating liver is either a) toxic or b) imper-

ative for brain development. Spare the rod and spoil the child; spank

the child and go to jail.

In her book Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Ad-

vice About Children, Ann Hulbert documented how parenting experts

contradict one another and even themselves. Their banter might be

hilarious were it not so confounding and, often, scary. Gary Ezzo,

who in the Babywise book series endorses an “infant-management

strategy” for moms and dads trying to “achieve excellence in parent-

ing,” stresses how important it is to train a baby, early on, to sleep

alone through the night. Otherwise, Ezzo warns, sleep deprivation

might “negatively impact an infant’s developing central nervous sys-

tem” and lead to learning disabilities. Advocates of “co-sleeping,”

meanwhile, warn that sleeping alone is harmful to a baby’s psyche

and that he should be brought into the “family bed.” What about

stimulation? In 1983 T. Berry Brazelton wrote that a baby arrives in

the world “beautifully prepared for the role of learning about him- or

herself and the world all around.” Brazelton favored early, ardent

stimulation—an “interactive” child. One hundred years earlier, how-

ever, L. Emmett Holt cautioned that a baby is not a “plaything.”

There should be “no forcing, no pressure, no undue stimulation” dur-

ing the first two years of a child’s life, Holt believed; the brain is grow-

ing so much during that time that overstimulation might cause “a

great deal of harm.” He also believed that a crying baby should never

be picked up unless it is in pain. As Holt explained, a baby should be

left to cry for fifteen to thirty minutes a day: “It is the baby’s exercise.”


First some, at some places, dubious discussion of race and intelligence. Of course, all focused on the X-theories (Rushton and Jensen’s term). Avoiding to talk about the difference in genetics between populations.

A child who had a low birthweight tends to do poorly in school. It

may be that being born prematurely is simply hurtful to a child’s over-

all well-being. It may also be that low birthweight is a strong fore-

caster of poor parenting, since a mother who smokes or drinks or

otherwise mistreats her baby in utero isn’t likely to turn things around

just because the baby is born. A low-birthweight child, in turn, is

more likely to be a poor child—and, therefore, more likely to attend

Head Start, the federal preschool program. But according to the

ECLS data, Head Start does nothing for a child’s future test scores.

Despite a deep reservoir of appreciation for Head Start (one of this

book’s authors was a charter student), we must acknowledge that it

has repeatedly been proven ineffectual in the long term. Here’s a likely

reason: instead of spending the day with his own undereducated,

overworked mother, the typical Head Start child spends the day with

someone else’s undereducated, overworked mother. (And a whole

roomful of similarly needy children.) As it happens, fewer than 30

percent of Head Start teachers have even a bachelor’s degree. And the

job pays so poorly—about $21,000 for a Head Start teacher versus

$40,000 for the average public-school kindergarten teacher—that it

is unlikely to attract better teachers any time soon.

Not surprisingly, premature babies are alot less smart. Some of the science is summed up here.

Matters: The child has many books in his home.

Doesn’t: The child’s parents read to him nearly every day.

As noted earlier, a child with many books in his home has indeed

been found to do well on school tests. But regularly reading to a child

doesn’t affect early childhood test scores.

This would seem to present a riddle. It bounces us back to our

158 What Makes a Perfect Parent?

original question: just how much, and in what ways, do parents really


Let’s start with the positive correlation: books in the home equal

higher test scores. Most people would look at this correlation and infer

an obvious cause-and-effect relationship. To wit: a little boy named

Isaiah has a lot of books at home; Isaiah does beautifully on his read-

ing test at school; this must be because his mother or father regularly

reads to him. But Isaiah’s friend Emily, who also has a lot of books in

her home, practically never touches them. She would rather dress up

her Bratz or watch cartoons. And Emily tests just as well as Isaiah.

Meanwhile, Isaiah and Emily’s friend Ricky doesn’t have any books at

home. But Ricky goes to the library every day with his mother. And

yet he does worse on his school tests than either Emily or Isaiah.

What are we to make of this? If reading books doesn’t have an im-

pact on early childhood test scores, could it be that the books’ mere

physical presence in the house makes the children smarter? Do books

perform some kind of magical osmosis on a child’s brain? If so, one

might be tempted to simply deliver a truckload of books to every

home that contains a preschooler.

That, in fact, is what the governor of Illinois tried to do. In early

2004, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced a plan to mail one book

a month to every child in Illinois from the time they were born until

they entered kindergarten. The plan would cost $26 million a year.

But, Blagojevich argued, this was a vital intervention in a state where

40 percent of third graders read below their grade level. “When you

own [books] and they’re yours,” he said, “and they just come as part of

your life, all of that will contribute to a sense… that books should be

part of your life.”

So all children born in Illinois would end up with a sixty-volume

library by the time they entered school. Does this mean they would all

perform better on their reading tests?

Probably not. (Although we may never know for sure: in the end,

the Illinois legislature rejected the book plan.) After all, the ECLS

data don’t say that books in the house cause high test scores; it says

only that the two are correlated.

How should this correlation be interpreted? Here’s a likely theory:

most parents who buy a lot of children’s books tend to be smart and

well educated to begin with. (And they pass on their smarts and work

ethic to their kids.) Or perhaps they care a great deal about education,

and about their children in general. (Which means they create an en-

vironment that encourages and rewards learning.) Such parents may

believe—as fervently as the governor of Illinois believed—that every

children’s book is a talisman that leads to unfettered intelligence. But

they are probably wrong. A book is in fact less a cause of intelligence

than an indicator.

What a dumb idea. There was a recent study mentioned by Razib Khan that made exactly such a study… not using a proper control for genetics, and came to the same conclusion. Fucking derp. I did look for the study or link to article about the study, but failed to find it.

In a paper titled “The Nature and Nurture of Economic Out-

comes,” the economist Bruce Sacerdote addressed the nature-nurture

debate by taking a long-term quantitative look at the effects of

parenting. He used three adoption studies, two American and one

British, each of them containing in-depth data about the adopted

children, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. Sacer-

dote found that parents who adopt children are typically smarter, bet-

ter educated, and more highly paid than the baby’s biological parents.

But the adoptive parents’ advantages had little bearing on the child’s

school performance. As also seen in the ECLS data, adopted children

test relatively poorly in school; any influence the adoptive parents

might exert is seemingly outweighed by the force of genetics. But,

Sacerdote found, the parents were not powerless forever. By the time

the adopted children became adults, they had veered sharply from the

destiny that IQ alone might have predicted. Compared to similar

children who were not put up for adoption, the adoptees were far

more likely to attend college, to have a well-paid job, and to wait until

they were out of their teens before getting married. It was the influ-

ence of the adoptive parents, Sacerdote concluded, that made the dif-


Eh. Ive read the opposite. Sort of. That was for IQ scores. This is for college attendency. Money matters for that, and since the adoptive parents were richers, they cud more easily pay for that. College education does predict income independently of IQ. Everything fits.

It wud be interesting to see the same study in Denmark where college does not cost money (no tuition). Wud adoptive parents still boost college attendency rates? They might still provide some help with course work etc. Altho i think most people move out by the time they start attending college. This also requires some money, but it is doable without support as well.

Here is the abstract:

This paper uses data on adopted children to examine the relative importance of biology and environment in determining educational and labor market outcomes. I employ three long-term panel data sets which contain information on adopted children, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. In at least two of the three data sets, the mechanism for assigning children to adoptive parents is fairly random and does not match children to adoptive parents based on health, race, or ability. I find that adoptive parents’ education and income have a modest impact on child test scores but a large impact on college attendance, marital status, and earnings. In contrast with existing work on IQ scores, I do not find that the influence of adoptive parents declines with child age.

Chapter 6

Here’s a question to begin with: where does a name come from,

anyway? Not, that is, the actual source of the name—that much is

usually obvious: there’s the Bible, there’s the huge cluster of tradi-

tional English and Germanic and Italian and French names, there are

princess names and hippie names, nostalgic names and place names.

Increasingly, there are brand names (Lexus, Armani, Bacardi, Timber-

land) and what might be called aspirational names. The California

data show eight Harvards born during the 1990s (all of them black),

fifteen Yales (all white), and eighteen Princetons (all black). There

were no Doctors but three Lawyers (all black), nine Judges (eight of

them white), three Senators (all white), and two Presidents (both

black). Then there are the invented names. Roland G. Fryer Jr., while

discussing his names research on a radio show, took a call from a black

woman who was upset with the name just given to her baby niece. It

was pronounced shuh-TEED but was in fact spelled “Shithead.” *

Retard level increasing…

Reminds me of this one:

Why vote?

Within the economics departments at certain universities, there is a

famous but probably apocryphal story about two world-class econo-

mists who run into each other at the voting booth.

“What are you doing here?” one asks.

“My wife made me come,” the other says.

The first economist gives a confirming nod. “The same.”

After a mutually sheepish moment, one of them hatches a plan: “If

you promise never to tell anyone you saw me here, I’ll never tell any-

one I saw you.” They shake hands, finish their polling business and

scurry off.

Why would an economist be embarrassed to be seen at the vot-

ing booth? Because voting exacts a cost—in time, effort, lost pro-

ductivity—with no discernible payoff except perhaps some vague

sense of having done your “civic duty.” As the economist Patricia

Funk wrote in a recent paper, “A rational individual should abstain

from voting.”

The odds that your vote will actually affect the outcome of a given

election are very, very, very slim. This was documented by the econo-

mists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter, who analyzed more than

56,000 Congressional and state-legislative elections since 1898. For

all the attention paid in the media to close elections, it turns out that

they are exceedingly rare. The median margin of victory in the Con-

gressional elections was 22 percent; in the state-legislature elections, it

was 25 percent. Even in the closest elections, it is almost never the case

that a single vote is pivotal. Of the more than 40,000 elections for

state legislator that Mulligan and Hunter analyzed, comprising nearly

one billion votes, only seven elections were decided by a single vote,

with two others tied. Of the more than 16,000 Congressional elec-

tions, in which many more people vote, only one election in the past

one hundred years—a 1910 race in Buffalo—was decided by a single


I often stumble into people who either doesnt want to or is simply unable to get this idea into their heads. It is a waste of time to vote unless u have some crazy weightings in the cost/benefit analysis.


My iPod shuffle reminds me of this every time I use it. I’m consis-

tently surprised at how often it plays two, three, or even four songs by

the same artist, even though I have songs by dozens of different artists

on it. On a number of occasions, I’ve even become mistakenly con-

vinced I don’t have the iPod on shuffle, but rather I’m playing all the

songs by one artist. If someone is really bored, maybe they can repeat-

edly have the iPod shuffle the songs, record the data, and see if the

shuffle function really is random. My guess is that it is, because what

would be the point of Apple doing something different? I have a

friend Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science at UCLA, who

was convinced that the random button on his CD player knew which

songs were his favorites and disproportionally played those. So I bet

him one day, made him name his favorite songs in advance, and won


>professor of political “science”

>doesnt understand basic cognitive bias (confirmation bias, memory version)

>doesnt understand probability/statistics


After dissing Wikipedia a bit for the standard reasons, especially given this is written in 2005 or something…

On page 35 of Freakonomics, we make a passing reference to the

Chicago Black Sox, the name given to the Chicago White Sox after

eight players were found to have colluded with gamblers to throw the

1919 World Series.

A reader recently wrote:

The 1919 white sox were not known as the

black sox because they threw the world weries [sic]. They were called that

because their owner (whose name i do not have) was too stingy to have

their uniforms cleaned regularly so that they frequently showed up on the

diamond in dirty uniforms. You’re welcome.

This was in fact the second reader to write with this same correc-

tion. We had asked the first reader for his source; he said he thought

he “heard it once on ESPN,” but couldn’t be sure. After receiving this

second e-mail, I decided to investigate. Here is my reply to reader no.

2, and to anyone else who may care:

I looked into the Black Sox thing. It is true that the Wikipedia

entry says this: Although many believe the Black Sox name to

be related to the dark and corrupt nature of the consipiracy

[sic], the term Black Sox had already existed before the fix was

investigated. The name Black Sox was given because parsimo-

nious owner Charles Comiskey refused to pay for the players’

uniforms to be laundered, instead insisting that the players

themselves pay for the cleaning. The players refused, and the

subsequent series of games saw the White Sox play in progres-

sivly [sic] dirtier uniforms, as dust, sweat, and grime collected

on the white, woollen [sic] uniforms until they took on a much

darker shade. (does anyone have proof of this? sounds like

urban legend to me)

Am i going to call the authors names for choosing a particular bad example from Wikipedia, an anecdote with no source? Not even (besides the effect of writing that sentence, and this!)

What then, Emil, are u going to complain about? The tendency of people to SPAM [sic]’s in their quotations. Why, why, why do they do it? Are they so afraid that someone will think that they have made a spelling mistake? Why else? To avoid the editor having it removed? To point out the mistake or ‘mistake’ in the original source, either to help the person spell better (unlikely) or just to slander him?

Is there some obvious reason im missing? It has been annoying me for years since i first thought about it.

Another thing. Such [sic]’s interrupt the reading flow of the text, as the reader automatically begins to look for the word spelled nonstandardly. That the reader begins to look for it shud ring a bell. It means that the reader didnt even notice it to begin with, thus illustrating the pointlessness of pointing it out.

Besides, 1 of the 3 [sic]’s above is NOT a spelling mistake (probably). consipiracy instead of conspiracy is a typo. Teachers actually do classify errors in papers into categories. This is very useful, as that makes it possible to see which errors are committed often and which arent, and then figure out how to fix it. I used such information when i was designing my proposal to fix some of the problems with danish spellings.

For instance, progressivly instead of progressively is becus the E is silent. Not just part of a strange digraf as is common in EN, e.g. -IxE- where the x is a consonant and the sound related to it is /aɪ/, ex. pike and Mike.

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