Words don't lie, part II: Perception Analyzer reveals no Jack Kennedys at vice presidential debate

Dennis Baron debaron at illinois.edu
Fri Oct 3 04:29:13 UTC 2008

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Words don't lie, part II: Perception Analyzer reveals no Jack Kennedys  
at vice presidential debate

During the first presidential debate last week, CNN used a Perception  
Analyzer to track audience responses to the candidates. Members of a  
focus group in Columbus turned the analyzer's dial to the left when  
they didn't like what they heard, and to the right when they did,  
which presumes they prefer being right of center. Analysis of the  
results showed that most of the audience stayed awake for most of the  
90-minute-long debate.

The network deployed the Perception Analyzer again at the vice  
presidential debate last night at Washington University in St. Louis,  
only with a twist: CNN turned it into an IQ meter for Gov. Palin, and  
a foot-in-mouth detector for Sen. Biden.

In the end, though, the technology didn't tell us any more than the  
candidates did. Palin showed no palpable IQ deficits, though she did  
once call her opponent Sen. Obiden and she mis-named the general  
commanding American forces in Afghanistan. Biden outscored her by  
showing more grasp of concrete detail, while keeping both feet planted  
firmly on the floor. . . .

To no one's surprise, last night in St. Louis neither candidate proved  
to be Jack Kennedy. Neither even came close to channeling Lloyd  
Bentsen. Fortunately, neither of them looked to be the next Dick  
Cheney, either. And former Vice President Quayle held onto his title  
of "dumber than a sixth grader." . . .

read the rest of this post and see pictures of the Perception Analyzer  
at work on the Web of Language

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321


read the Web of Language:

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