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University students asked to tell between Dickens and the worst writer in history scored a 48%

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posted on May, 7 2016 @ 05:42 PM
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The average university student asked to differentiate between Dickens and Bulwer-Lytton scored a 48.2%


Think you can tell the difference between the writings of Charles Dickens, pretty much all-around acknowledged master of Victorian fiction, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, widely considered "the worst writer in history?" Well, according to a new study published in the Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, the average university student can only differentiate 48% of the time.

Skeptical? We were too, so we asked an English major at Dartmouth — which is allegedly in the Ivy League — to take study author Mikhail Simkin's quiz, called "Great Prose or Not?"

"Okay, here are my very uneducated guesses," she told Page Views upon completion of the quiz, with obvious exasperation.

Uneducated indeed. She correctly answered six out of the 12 questions, right on par at 50%.


Are the famous writers better than the unknown ones, or they merely have more readers?



+1 more 
posted on May, 7 2016 @ 05:47 PM
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Are the famous writers better than the unknown ones, or they merely have more readers?

Is the quality of a story determined by a single paragraph?



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 05:48 PM
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a reply to: vernichter

i wonder what would of happed if they questioned 9000 literature students (reading writing ect) as opposed to random students. I know tech/science students are not likely to be reading dickens in their free time, more like getting their gamer score up



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 05:58 PM
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a reply to: DOCHOLIDAZE1

The students would not take the test if they were not interested literature. Also the article explicitly mentions a Dartmouth English major getting a random-guessing equivalent score.



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:02 PM
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a reply to: DOCHOLIDAZE1

Heh. You made a 9000 reference.
Goku is probably more recognized world wide than Sir Charles is anyway.

Btw, it's a Dragon Ball Z reference in case anyone was wondering.



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:04 PM
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a reply to: vernichter

just because one is interested in literature does not mean it is the major. Also surveys are crap any way only used in propaganda pieces to make a person or group of people to feel like crap. and to gain contact info. the whole thing is farce



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:15 PM
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originally posted by: DOCHOLIDAZE1
a reply to: vernichter

just because one is interested in literature does not mean it is the major.

Whom are you debating?


Besides, what was your score?



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:18 PM
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I would say that part of Dickens' mastery lies in his characterization and plotting as well as in his use of the language. You could go through and pick out pretty mundane passages from just about every author if you wanted to and it wouldn't have much of anything to do with how well the overall work was written.


By midnight the revelry was at its height. Now came one of those picturesque spectacles so admired in that day. A description of it is still extant in the quaint wording of a chronicler who witnessed it:



He paused a moment, but nobody volunteering any other meteorological recollection, he again had recourse to his pocket-handkerchief, and for some moments mopped his face diligently.


I gave you all two paragraphs from American writers from roughly the same time period. One is Twain and the other is Harte. Can you tell who is whom?



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:31 PM
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originally posted by: DOCHOLIDAZE1
a reply to: vernichter

i wonder what would of happed if they questioned 9000 literature students (reading writing ect) as opposed to random students. I know tech/science students are not likely to be reading dickens in their free time, more like getting their gamer score up


Tech/science students don't have free time: they are not English majors.
Furthermore,because true discernment ability is essential in STEM, I would bet STEM students would do better than English majors in this test.

Cheers.



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:32 PM
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How does someone become known as the worst writer in history? A lot of people are poor writers.

some Famous lines by the "worst writer"
"It was a dark and stormy night"
"The pen is mightier than the sword"

This sounds more like a study into the snobbery of the top english profs, writers and critics.



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:32 PM
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a reply to: M5xaz

im tech got free time to be here. your stament proven wrong



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:35 PM
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a reply to: M5xaz

You think reading Dickens is "free" time for English majors? It's what we're assigned.


If you had a hankering to read Dickens, then maybe you missed your calling. I never minded Dickens, unless it was Great Expectations ... hate that book with the fiery passion of a thousand burning hells ..., but he wasn't exactly my choice of free time pleasure reading either.
edit on 7-5-2016 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:36 PM
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Think you can tell the difference between the writings of Charles Dickens, pretty much all-around acknowledged master of Victorian fiction, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, widely considered "the worst writer in history?



Having not heard of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, I did a bit of checking. I can find no reference to him being considered "the worst writer in history". In fact, there seem to be a number of candidates. With Bulwer-Lytton not very apparent.
www.google.com...



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:38 PM
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a reply to: vernichter

i dont do surveys unless im getting paid



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 06:54 PM
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originally posted by: jellyrev
How does someone become known as the worst writer in history? A lot of people are poor writers.

Bulwer-Lytton is mostly known today for the wretched writing contest established in his honor.



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 07:27 PM
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a reply to: vernichter



Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest (hereafter referred to as the BLFC) was the brainchild (or Rosemary’s baby) of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Yeah, it is a horrible opening sentence. But does that mean that Bulwer-Lytton was the worst writer ever?


www.bulwer-lytton.com...

edit on 5/7/2016 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 07:55 PM
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originally posted by: Phage
a reply to: vernichter
Yeah, it is a horrible opening sentence. But does that mean that Bulwer-Lytton was the worst writer ever?

You are not familiar with a hyperbole?

This article gives a detailed statistical comparison of Dickens' and Bulwer's literary standings:

Statistics against irritations



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 08:01 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko
I made my choices, then I checked.
I was wrong.
I wanted to kick myself, because I had read the paragraph by Harte before, although it was 40 years ago.



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 08:05 PM
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a reply to: vernichter
Quite aware of hyperbole. It is seen often on ATS.


I don't see the statistics showing that Edward Bulwer-Lytton is "widely considered 'the worst writer in history', I see a couple of references to critiques. Nor do I deny that Dickens' standing is greater than that of Bulwer-Lytton.
edit on 5/7/2016 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 7 2016 @ 08:05 PM
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a reply to: butcherguy

It was hard to pick the Twain one. I started out looking at Huck Finn, but it was too colloquial. I had to fall back to The Prince and the Pauper. I stumbled on the Harte one will I was actually looking for an Ambrose Bierce story in a collection of short stories.




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