Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Flesch-Kincaid CNBC Card

"In debates rife with confrontation and verbal barbs, there was one thing that wasn't a big surprise: Nobody was speaking above a high school level."

- CNBC comment after the Republican Debate.

I sat and read through the CNBC analysis of the debater this morning.  They say that they achieved this high school level analysis by using the Microsoft package.....the Flesch-Kincaid readability test.

It's hard to say if this goes anywhere or gets taken seriously.  Did they apply the same Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test to the Democratic debate from two weeks ago?  No.  Have they applied the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test to CNBC news readers?  No.  Have they applied the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Test to the Constitution (with the original piece drafted by that weird geeky kid Tommy Jefferson)?  No.

Here's the sad news.  If you sat down and analyzed the heck out of American society....applying the standards of the Flesch-Kincaid humble guess is that half the nation probably writes at the 5th-grade level, with the rest at varying levels, and probably only three-percent write at college-level or beyond.

I read a piece a few months ago on Flesch-Kincaid being applied to a chapter out of the Old Man and the Sea (one of Hemingway's great books).  The blogger wanted to make a point and thought that the test would show great intellect.  Well, the results were that Hemingway wrote the book between the fourth and fifth-grade level.  I think one of the things that you can appreciate out of the classic is that it's simple and to the point.

Should we worry about some Republican guys speaking at high school level?  Somewhere in this suggestive comment is this random thought that Democrats are thinking and speaking at university level, and that makes them better leaders.  Course, without testing Hillary, Bernie, or for that matter....Senator can't really say much.  The CNBC crowd simply suggest that you'd want smarter leaders.

Applying the test to CNBC analysts?  I'm guessing they really don't want that to happen.  But the problem opened up the barn door, and people might get stupid enough to ask what level they function at.

So, when you hear or see this might want to sit there for a while and ponder upon the objective.  Maybe we have dumbed down the whole political process and CNBC has a point.  The problem is that we've kinda lost some respect of the CNBC folks and doubt their objective nature exists anymore.