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Archive for July, 2010

Useful Grammar and Punctuation Points

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In another installment of “Let’s Help Others To Take Seriously What We Write,” I’d like to offer a link to Solveig Haugland’s “ Training, Tips, and Ideas” blog:

The key thing about many of these items, and useful grammar and punctuation in general, is they’re not just fancy-schmancy rules. They are important rules that affect the meaning of what you say. I think most people would agree is an important component of communication–controlling the meaning of what you’re writing.

Some of them don’t affect meaning, but do make it easier and more pleasant for your readers. That means they’re more likely to read your email, spec, or marketing blurb, and thus get the information you’re trying to convey.

Here are the high points. She goes on to explain them (and beautifully, I might add) in the body of the article.

  1. Use the word that is correct (the correct word, which helps your readers understand you, is always a good choice)
  2. Wherever possible without sounding dorky, put only in front of the thing it applies to.
  3. Keep your intransitive verbs off my body
  4. Lay off using lie incorrectly
  5. Dangling participles are as bad as you’ve heard.
  6. Few and less and more (but is less more?)
  7. Remember the comma.
  8. Cut down on the parenthetical phrases
  9. Forget you ever encountered ellipsis….unless you’re quoting a movie review…and leaving out the…bad parts…
  10. Hyphenation is important.

(For what it’s worth, I disagree with her about the serial comma. I think it’s important to use it. There are times when it matters a great deal for sake of clarity, and in those times when it doesn’t matter, it does no harm. Good habits are good habits.)

Go read — and learn well! — the rest: Top Ten Useful Grammar and Punctuation Points I Learned as a Techwriter and in Life in General (and Three to Ignore)

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 10th, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Shrinking Pain

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Yet another “NLP was here first” example. I saw this on a trivia buff’s blog, “Futility Closet:”

In 2008, researchers at Oxford University found that subjects could reduce pain and swelling in an injured hand by viewing it through reversed binoculars.

Conversely, a magnified injury was more painful. “If it looks bigger, it looks sorer,” said physiologist G. Lorimer Moseley. “Therefore the brain acts to protect it.”

A judicious Googling led me to the pertinent issue of Current Biology online. On the right-hand side of that page, there are links to PDF and HTML versions of the article.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 10th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Therapist Competence Matters

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We have yet another “NLP said it first” moment in an article in a recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology:

A new study underscores the benefit of receiving cognitive behavioral therapy CBT from a competent therapist who follows the guidelines for delivering CBT.

Prior studies have shown that while cognitive therapy is an effective treatment for depression, a clear understanding of the role therapists’ training and expertise plays in making treatment successful was unknown.

The new study suggests therapist competence may be a particularly important determinant of outcome for some patients.

I’ve heard this from my trainers from my first training with Richard in 1997. How is it that Psychology takes so long to catch up to NLP?

Go read the rest at Therapist Competency Important for Treatment Success on Psych Central.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 7th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Behold… The World’s Funniest Typo!

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I challenge you to find a funnier typographical error than this one (follow the link):

That IS a strong winter storm..

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 7th, 2010 at 4:17 am

Implicit Modeling? Watch out for this.

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I’m a bit of a money geek. Not too crazy, but I like to keep an eye on what I have. So I read a couple of personal finance blogs. Recently, Monevator had an article titled, “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” and it pointed me to an interesting group of articles of interest to implicit modelers:

Appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the mystery of overimitation has been a long-standing one in developmental psychology. How is it that young children, who are able to learn and reason in so many impressively agile ways, can be utterly stumped by something as simple as the transparent Puzzle Box shown above? Specifically, when kids see an adult getting a prize out of that box in a way that adults — and even chimpanzees — can easily identify as clumsy and inefficient, they seem to lose the ability to figure out how to open the box “correctly”. Watching an adult doing it wrong, in other words, effectively blocks children from figuring out how to do it right. Children become stuck overimitating — or copying the adult’s wasteful strategy, even when doing so leads to bad outcomes.

We humans are too smart for our own good, and make things harder than they need to be. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary in discovering that. But I hadn’t heard of “overimitating” before. I’d heard that implicit modeling is the way we all do it from birth; it’s the way babies learn practically everything. At the same time, we forget how long it takes for babies to get it right. We don’t want to take seven to eight years to, say, learn a language… we want to hold a coherent conversation in a few weeks.

It’s important, then, when we model by imitation, to remember to take the model apart and find out what needs to be there and what doesn’t. We don’t want to have to tap stuff with a feather just because that’s how we learned to do it.

Read it all at The Mystery of Overimitation over at Hello Felix, a childhood development blog for parents.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 4th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Modeling,Psych