Here’s Why Your Brain Needs You to Read

Why Your Brain Wants You to Read Every Day

Word Brain Power

Interesting article from Reader’s Digest on the scientific reasons why our brains benefit from daily reading–especially the benefits of fiction!03-september-2017-FEA_WordPowerBrainPower_US170901-760x506 child.jpg Continue reading

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Fake News Precedes Us

Preceding articles from this blog have talked about Fake News.

The following article from the Columbus Dispatch is written by Brad Lepper, the curator of archaeology at the Ohio History Connection.  He says that through the years, scientists have had to devote considerable effort to debunking so-called “alternative facts.  Does this make us feel better about today?

Peter Hancock, a psychologist at the University of Central Florida, has studied several examples of what you might call alternative artifacts, and in his new book, “Hoax Springs Eternal: the psychology of cognitive deception,” he shows why some hoaxes are more successful than others.

Hancock argues that prospective perpetrators of hoaxes must “identify the dream” of their target audience. In other words, they determine what the victims of their scam fervently want to be true so they can give it to them.

Ohio’s most infamous fake artifacts Newark Holy Stonesare the so-called Newark “Holy Stones.”

These are several carved stones engraved with Hebrew writing found at the Newark Earthworks and nearby mounds between 1860 and 1867. Some scholars believed these artifacts proved that ancient Israelites had something to do with building Ohio’s amazing earthworks, but my colleague Jeff Gill and I have shown they are clever forgeries.

Hancock argues that successful hoaxes are never “too perfect.” By “creating something that is suggestive, indicative and open to interpretation, you have made an artifact that many people can use to support their view of the world.”

The creators of the Newark Holy Stones did this so well that it has been hard to identify the primary target of the hoax.

Members of a local Masonic Lodge believed the Holy Stones showed that ancient Masons built the Newark Earthworks. Some Latter-day Saints believed they provided confirmation of the Book of Mormon.

But Jeff and I say the Holy Stones were tailor-made to fulfill the dreams of the Rev. Charles McIlvaine, then the Episcopal bishop of Ohio. In 1839, McIlvaine expressed his belief that someday artifacts would be found in the mounds of Ohio that would prove that “all the races of men have descended from one common stock.”

Why was this so important?

McIlvaine was an ardent support of emancipation. Finding Hebrew artifacts in ancient Ohio mounds would prove that America’s history was part of biblical history. And if biblical history was true, then the indigenous peoples of America — as well as the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa — were children of Adam and Eve and not separate creations of sub-humans.

This would mean that slavery was an intolerable injustice that must be abolished.

The Newark Holy Stones, if authentic, could have made McIlvaine’s dream come true. Instead, these ersatz artifacts offered nothing but false hope.

Hancock offers timely advice for anyone who wants to avoid falling for fake news. He said we must “reserve our greatest doubt for our most cherished beliefs. Where doubt is our companion, hoax will find it difficult to flourish.”

I am participating with Hancock and others in a symposium called “‘Fake News’ from the Past: Archaeological Mysteries and the Psychology of Deception” on May 13 at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton, where the Holy Stones are on display. For more information, contact the museum.

Archaeology: Newark ‘Holy Stones’ are 19th century fake news

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The Results Are In–Our Summer Speed Reading Students Really Score!

This is a repost from last fall–but very timely now because we are now taking enrollments for another exciting summer of meeting wonderful youth and helping them reach and exceed their scholastic goals.  One of our courses is almost full!  Click here for our current schedule.

I think SpeedReading will be very helpful in the future with the upcoming school year and also for my SAT/ACT tests.  I think it will also be very useful in college and also  in general Thumbs Upwhen I need to take noes-and not just any notes, but organized ones.  Also, this will help me to get done with my homework quicker, allowing me to have more time to sleep. (Which is very hard when you play sports.)”–student at Olentangy Liberty HS

Thank you parents, grandparents, school counselors and coaches for sending your wonderful students to us.  Thank you to all of our participants who had to get up early and work so hard to achieve these amazing results.  You are why we love our jobs!

Our summer speed reading students continuously amaze themselves and their families. (We knew they could do it, but we were excited as well!). Eighty students ranging in grades from beginning 7th graders to graduating seniors–and a few adults continuing their education–took part in this summer’s six classes. The average beginning score was 240 wpm with 69% comprehension. Their average ending score was 2,399 wpm with 89% comprehension. That’s a Reading Efficiency Increase (REI) of 12.89 (1,289%)!  (Reading Efficiency Increase compares the beginning speed and comprehension with the ending speed and comprehension.)  We promised 3 – 5 x’s!  Click here for our complete summer results and student comments.

Our classes not only focus on increasing speed, but also emphasize strategies for increasing comprehension, recall, and retention, with study techniques for mastering and organizing information for exams, reports, and presentations. Our students get their work done faster with better results and find that they enjoy reading more. They have more confidence and skills for their ACT, SAT, OGT, AP courses, and college. They have time to participate in their sports and music, get good grades, and–as some reported as the biggest benefit–still get some sleep.

Now that it is spring, we have one weekend course coming up very soon for adults and teens to reach their education and career goals in this Columbus, Ohio class now so they can have more time for fun in the sun.  And it is time for youth who are going into 7th grade through seniors in high school to make plans to soar to success in a summer class.
Our classes are excellent for the weak reader who needs more confidence and the excellent readers burdened with AP courses and activities who want more time.

Bonnie James



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News you can use: Infographic walks you through 10 questions to detect fake News

extra extra

News on E-Reader

Holding an E-Reader

From ASCD Smart News via the Seattle Times:   News you can use:  Infographic walks you through 10 questions to detect fake News:  Ten questions for fake news

Peter Adams, the senior vice president for educational programs at NLPsaid the worksheet was created in late November, when concerned teachers began to ask the organization how to best address fake news in their classrooms.

NLP, founded in 2008, develops resources and products that help educators teach students about smart news consumption, civic freedoms and the newsmaking process.

“Misinformation is being spread in ways it hasn’t been,” Adams said. And it’s taking a toll on students. Around the same time NLP released its infographic, a team of Stanford researchers released a study that revealed widespread inability to verify information among middle-schoolers, high-schoolers and even college students.

Being skeptical is only half the battle when evaluating news sources. The worksheet’s first question asks the reader to gauge his or her emotional reaction to an article.

“Confirmation bias is a powerful thing,” Adams said. “We like for students to stop and think, ‘Hold on: Is this making you angry?’”

For teachers interested in accessing more news-literacy resources, NLP is piloting a virtual platform called Checkology, where teachers and students can access about a dozen different lessons digitally, many of which are taught by journalists in the field. One of the activities on the platform, “Be the Editor,” gives students a lesson about news judgment: They’re given 20 stories and asked to feature only five of them on a mock website. Other topics explored include social-media algorithms and citizen watchdogs.

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Michael F. Curtin: Times change, not newspapers’ commitment

Ohio is 214 years old today. Ohio’s newspapers are a decade older. Since before statehood, no one has told Ohio’s evolving story more completely and colorfully than its hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers — those still here and many long gone. The storytelling began Nov. 9, 1793, with publication of The Centinel of the North-Western Territory, based in Cincinnati, the seat of the Northwest Territory and the site of Fort Washington. In that first, four-page edition, In that first, four-page edition, Publisher William Maxwell promised news from abroad, other states and territories, “and especially our own Territory.”

Read more for the fascinating history: Continue reading

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The Nation Article on Avoiding Fake News From Bangkok


The Nation

Because The Columbus Metropolitan Club’s topic today is Fake News is an Oxymoron and because we made our trip to Bangkok this month a year ago, I decided to re-post this blog.

I read this article when teaching a class in Bangkok for the USAID.  I enjoyed reading the English version of the papers in the hotel lobby.  This column in the The Nation by Suthichai Yoon started with:  Thais got a taste of what “fake” news can do to you recently when Facebook got fooled by its own algorithm.
It is interesting that it also mentions to the News Literacy Project in the US.  Funny that I found out about the project while in Bangkok!

The full article is below. The link can take you to the publication.
Source: How to spot fake news – Think before you share

Thais got a taste of what “fake” news can do to you recently when Facebook got fooled by its own algorithm.

When the social network activated its Safety Check feature, a false security alert was triggered. A year-old article about a bomb blast in Bangkok (the 2015 Erawan Shrine attack) sent a jolt of panic across the world before it was deactivated an hour later.

The incident raised questions about how Thais consume news on the social media. Long before fake news became a big issue during the US presidential election campaign, many Thais were caught in their own drawn-out social media battle, posting news considered favourable to their political orientation – and disparaging stories that shed a negative light on their faction.

The general public, however, has to be armed with sufficient guidelines on how to detect news that is deliberately distorted or cooked up to paint an incident in a certain way.

I was drawn to the News Literacy Project in the US, which is focused on “vaccinating” citizens against fake news from a young age. The process has to start in the classroom, even before kids start using mobile phones.

In what is being dubbed a post-truth era, news literacy must start from the ground up.

The US project uses a virtual classroom and mobilizes seasoned journalists to help students nationwide sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

It offers basic questions – the five W’s and one H – as guards against falling into the fake news trap:

WHO wrote the article? Is there a byline or author?

WHAT is the publication? Is it a credible or trusted news source?

WHERE do the sources inside come from? Are they named? Are they legit? Are they absent?

WHEN was it published? A missing date could raise a flag.

WHY did the writer create it? What was the motivation? Would you share it with someone?

HOW did it make you feel? Angry? Excited? Any other strong emotions? That could be another flag. Is it suspicious? To what degree can you fix it?

To the general public, guidelines given by Nick Robins-Early, a  world news reporter for the Huffington Post, can also be very helpful in spotting a fake story.

1. Read past the headline.

One way that fake news gets amplified is that busy readers don’t look past the headline or opening paragraph before they decide to share an article. Fake news publishers sometimes exploit this tendency, writing the beginning of a story in a straightforward way before filling in the rest with obviously false information.

2.     Check what news outlet published it.

Unfamiliar websites plastered with ads and all-caps headlines should draw immediate scepticism. Googling a site’s name and checking out other articles it posts should also help determine whether it’s trustworthy.

Many fake news sites will outright say that they are satire or don’t contain factual information, but others are made to mimic major news outlets. Check the URL names of pages that look suspect, making sure that it’s not a hoax site that is pretending to be a trusted source.

3.    Check the date and time of publication.

Another common element in fake news is that old articles or events can resurface and lead people to believe they just happened. Checking the publish time stamp is something readers can quickly do to prevent being misled.

4. Who is the author?

Looking at who wrote the article can reveal a lot of information about the news source. Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are a legitimate journalist or have a history of hoaxing.

5.    Look at what links and sources are used.

A lack of links or sources for claims in an article is an obvious warning sign. Fake sites may also provide numerous links to sites that appear to back up their claims, but are themselves spreading misinformation. Check to see that claims supported by links actually come from reliable sources.

6.    Look out for questionable quotes and photos.

It’s incredibly easy for fake news writers to invent false quotes, even attributing them to major public figures. Be sceptical of shocking or suspicious quotes, and search to see if they have been reported elsewhere.

Likewise, it’s easy to take a photo from one event and say it’s from another. Images can also be altered for a certain story. Reverse image searches, either through Google or tools like TinEye, can help you find where an image originated.

7.    Beware confirmation bias

People are often drawn to stories that reinforce the way they see the world and how they feel about certain issues. Fake news is no exception, and many of the articles that fall under its umbrella are designed to stir up emotion in readers and prey on their biases.

It’s important to check that news stories are based in fact, rather than sharing them because they support one side of an argument or bolster pre-existing political beliefs.

8.    Search if other news outlets are reporting it

If a story looks suspicious or claims to reveal major news, search to see if other news outlets are also reporting the story. A single article from a suspicious source making a grand claim should be viewed with heavy scepticism. If no reliable news outlets are also reporting the story, then it’s likely fake.

Perhaps the most practical piece of advice is: Think before you share. That’s because fake news sites rely on readers to share and engage with their articles in order for them to spread. In extreme cases, these fake articles can balloon out of control and have unintended consequences for those involved in the stories.

With dwindling newsroom staff and shrinking financial resources, journalists increasingly rely on online sources for stories and breaking news. As such, there’s an even greater imperative for all editors to follow this exhaustive checklist to avoid falling victim to “fake journalism”.  By Suthichai Yoon

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Fake News Confronted by Educators and World Wide Newspapers.


Tabloid “News”

internet quote picture

Facebook “News”









As the picture of the tabloids demonstrates, fake news has been around for a long time and it is still with us at the checkout line at the grocery store! But it is more invasive with  the Internet.

We might be getting sick of the words “fake news” right now due to their overuse and misuse these days. But it is refreshing to know that  good information is out there to help people who choose to take it in to help sort out what is real and fake.

When I was in Bangkok teaching a class for the USAID in January, I enjoyed reading the English version of the local papers.  I found an article about how to spot fake news and to think before sharing (novel approach)!

Then when I got back, our local paper the Columbus Dispatch had a wonderful article about how students are being taught to THINK about what they are reading and how to come up with what is accurate.  Following that, ASCD published an article from the Seattle Times which  released a worksheet to help students lessons on news judgment.

I am sharing the Columbus Dispatch article first.  The next two blogs will be the one from Bangkok and from ASCD (a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading).  The Dispatch article shows how various area schools are incorporating reading and discussing news articles into social studies, government classes, and writing courses.  I’d love to see a follow-up study to see what kind of conversations might have occurred in the homes where the older generation uses its comfortable sources and the younger one has learned to delve deeper.

Columbus Dispatch:  Teachers confront fake news in classroom lessons


Teacher Amanda Suttle’s students know to take with a grain of salt an online article positing that millennials are bad with money and need financial-planning help. It was written by a bank executive. And they get that a photo of mutated daisies, posted online with the claim that they sprouted near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, could be total bunk. These were examples that she floated this week for her 12-student media-literacy class at Licking Valley High School, just east of Newark, and she’s glad to see their healthy skepticism.

“I often ask them questions that I don’t have the answers to because I want them to think for themselves and not just tell me what they think I want to hear or what they think the ‘right’ answer is,” Suttle said in an email. “I consider it vital that they learn how to question everything, to resist the urge to believe the single story, the stereotype or the first thing they hear. In essence, I want them to read more and not be easily duped.

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