Is it just me? Lately many of the things I read contain glaring errors. It first hit me while reading Tim Tyler's Memetics.

"If memetics explains only explains the imitation of observed behavior, ..." (p 96)

"Perhaps biological an cultural differ..." (p 173)

"Genetic engineers can now take information form wherever they like..."

"However, not everyone seems agree that ..." (both on p 184)

"The upright gait hypothesis hypothesis is interesting for several reasons." (p 206)

I thought, "Didn't the editor even read this? Who was this?" But, lo, no editor was credited. There was no editor! Is this a new cost-cutting trend in publishing?

But the news lately has been just as bad.

It is original from the Andean area of South Africa and widely grown in both the north of Chile and Argentina and the south Mexico, especially Ecuador.

A Promising Fruit: The Tree Tomato

That sample was from today's Science Daily. Yesterday I noticed four or five glaring errors. This is disorienting, even a little scary. Has literacy decline crossed a tipping point?

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I usually like to send corrections privately.

On the other hand, if a Tea Partier tells us to "get a brain" and calls us "morans", I'll gladly laugh out loud.

This one's like a classic. It's a lot like "Get your government hands off my Medicare."

Yup! And the other classic sign posing a choice between "libety" and "tranny":

(Even more relevant these days, with religious conservatives' legislative attempts to prevent trans* folks from peeing in peace in appropriate public restrooms!)

I almost never point-out writing mistakes of others because I know I'm far from perfect.

I appreciate my mistakes being corrected, as long as the intent is to help me, and not just to put me down.

I understand and agree at some level with what you say. We are a tight knit group and eager to learn. At least, that is why I am here. I also hope to have a well informed group who knows how to communicate and able to express ourselves to a larger group with confidence and competence. 

My granddaughters are wonderful at correcting me, especially when I correct them and I am wrong. There is something special about being wrong and learning from them. 

Back to ScienceDaily: two bits of carelessness, in an article copied from a University of Amsterdam press release, caught my attention today. Just because materials used by ScienceDaily "may be edited" doesn't mean they will be!

"Previous research showed that not only adult humans, but also newborn babies can detect the beat in music. This proved that beat induction is congenital and can therefore not be learnt. In their experiments with rhesus monkeys, the researchers used the same stimuli and experimental paradigms from previous research conducted on humans and babies."

(The comma in the first sentence wasn't what bothered me. There's a difference between "is not learned, as far as we've seen" and "cannot be learned". And the last sentence isn't talking about baby (nonhuman) animals!)

Quotation marks again:

Would you trust these "stairs" in an emergency?

Sign on door: “Stairs” [with quotation marks](from

WTF!  Are the "stairs" imaginary like "god"?

From a YouTube tutorial, "How to get the Professional look!"

How to make your video's [sic] look professional...

I don't usually make that mistake, but I usually don't catch it in others writings.

Anyway, if I did catch that, I wouldn't trust that video.  I quite often see mistakes like that, and worse in articles I'm reading for the information they contain, and can't quite trust what they say after finding those mistakes.

Another example of spelling checkers being no panacea, found in a glossary of musical terms in a chamber music series' 100-page program book for the season:

"Timber: the quality of a musical tone that distinguishes voices and instruments"

In particular, whether they sound wooden, like xylophones?

(image source)

A higher-level bit of sloppiness: "The researchers theorized that the strictly meat-eating cats lost their ability to taste sweetness because they have no need to detect sugars." (From a Monell Center press release, via ScienceDaily.)

Evolution is not conscious design; it's not purpose-driven. More accurately, cats that lost their ability to taste sweetness faced no survival or reproductive disadvantage because they have no need to detect sugars. (The research, which focused on cats' multiple bitter receptors, doesn't explain how the damaged gene for the sweetness receptor became the only version.)


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