Sketchplanations

Explaining the world one sketch at a time

The Rhyme As Reason Effect - Sketchplanations

The Rhyme As Reason Effect

The Rhyme As Reason Effect suggests that we're more likely to consider something as accurate or truthful when it rhymes. In a lovely study that asked people to consider the accuracy of both rhyming and non-rhyming aphorisms, "Woes unite foes," or "What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals," for example, were considered more accurate than "Woes unite enemies," or "What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks." A classic example outside of old sayings is OJ Simpson's trial where the defense attorney memorably noted "If the gloves don't fit, you must acquit!" You can read the study in the delightfully titled paper, Birds of a feather flock conjointly: Rhyme as Reason in Aphorisms (pdf), by Matthew McGlone and Jessica Tofighbakhsh. In a related note I was always curious how "Beer before wine, you'll feel fine," tallied up with what I heard in the US: "Beer before liquor, never been sicker," or even "Grape or grain but never the twain." It turns out from a neat 2019 study that, whichever way round you rhyme them, they have no effect on your hangover despite how persuasive the Rhyme As Reason effect may be — even after a few beers.
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Reef knot and clove hitch - Sketchplanations

Reef knot and clove hitch

A refresh for basic guiding and scouting skills — two satisfying and simple, but not secure, knots: the reef knot, or square knot, and the clove hitch. The reef knot was also known to the ancient Greeks as the Hercules knot. You can use it for non-safety critical things like belts, bandages, tying bundles and parcels but it doesn't hold weight well so don't use it when safety is important. The clove hitch is a simple knot that can quickly, say, tie a rope to a post. But don't use it if you need something to really hold. Again, don't use either for safety critical applications, but they're both nice knots to know. Also see a sheet bend
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Kitty Hawk moment - Sketchplanations

Kitty Hawk moment

On 17 December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright brothers took the first short flights in their Wright Flyer. It's the original Kitty Hawk moment: when the impossible becomes possible. The first radio transmission, the first autonomous vehicle journey, the first sub-2 hour marathon could all be Kitty Hawk moments. A Kitty Hawk moment as a metaphor doesn't have to be big or as clear cut — it could be your first 5k, the first video call with an elderly relative, or the first sale for your business — it just needs to help to break a barrier and show what's now possible. In a lovely article on The Kitty Hawk moment, after Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne flight, Bob Clarebrough highlights that not everyone will see the significance of a Kitty Hawk moment. And it was nearly 24 years before the first plane crossing of the Atlantic. Like Bill Buxton's idea of the long nose of innovation there may be a lot of work left before the new development hits the big time.
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Micro-editing redundant words - Sketchplanations

Micro-editing redundant words

When writing for the web every word counts. We scan pages, instructions, and emails, sometimes skipping reading completely. So it's key to make sure that every word is doing a job. Over the years I find there are words that I routinely trim from web copy to save space and keep focus while preserving intent. While context always matters and these can't be cut everywhere, here are a handy few that regularly get the cut from web copy: Obviously, clearly, of course and the like — if it's obvious then don't write it, if it's not, then it's not relevant. If it's obvious to you and not to me then no need to make me feel stupid reading it Note, please note, note that, notice — we're noting it by writing it so trim the noise by leaving out reminders for readers to note things. If you really want someone to notice you can use the extra space from removing it by making it bigger or bolder That — can often be trimmed without changing the meaning of a sentence Any — very often superfluous Exact — very often makes no difference to a sentence Famous — if it's famous then maybe I've heard of it. If I haven't, then perhaps it's not so famous Current — if someone asks for my age or job then it's normal to assume they're not asking for what it used to be Successfully — it's always nice to trim a long word that doesn't add a lot Have — like 'that', it can often be removed without changing the meaning of a sentence All, total — when I take these out I often find it's the default assumption anyway Interestingly, surprisingly and the like — it may be interesting or surprising to you, but I think it's polite, and briefer, to let the reader decide if it's interesting or surprising for them If you're writing for the web, try removing some and see if it still works.
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