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mattbrowne's avatar

Newspapers and magazines - What do you think about this paragraph?

Asked by mattbrowne (31595points) December 2nd, 2010

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is a better place than the street. At first it is better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill but it is easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it. Once successful, complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs lots of room. If there are no complications it can be very peaceful. A rock will serve as an anchor. If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.

Is this paragraph comprehensible or meaningless?

Do you have any potential explanations?

(please, if you’ve seen this paragraph before, give people a chance to think about it first).

This is a serious question. So please, give it a try. It’s really worth it, I promise.

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23 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I love stuff like this…used to drive myself crazy thinking about these types of questions and love finding out the answers. I have seen this before and I will take a long walk off a short pier and let others ponder this over!


Blackberry's avatar

I don’t get it… It’s just a bunch of sentences…..although it doesn’t make sense because the sentences within the paragraph are not related.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t like to be experimented on – that’s what I thought. Then, I figured to take every second sentence to try to make sense of it all but then I got bored. It’s not a meaningful paragraph to me. A kindle is better than a magazine or a newspaper.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I had to endure it myself. But there’s a definite wow factor involved. Just a little more patience. It has to do with how human brains work.

I’m still reading the book you recommended, by the way. Need a bit more time.

Let’s give other Fluther users a chance to share what they are thinking after having read the paragraph.

bkcunningham1's avatar

It makes me think about flying a kite.

wundayatta's avatar

I keep trying to decode it, but can’t. It seems like your hints suggest there is some trick to having it make sense. The phrases remind me of proverbs expressed in different words. It’s like advice, only the advice is nonsensical. There are many “its” without antecedents. It seems to have influenced me to write short, declarative sentences.

It’s like a different way of thinking, although I don’t know how to describe it. It feels like my brain is twisted into a mobius strip that is whirling underneath a strange sun. Whatever.

john65pennington's avatar

I read your question over and over again. i finally have an answer as to what the heck this paragraph means. here goes…....................

Its a person delivering the Sunday newspaper in the rain. better to run than to get wet. the seashore is a better place to read the newspaper, rather than the street. you might be run over. learning to roll a newspaper is a simple skill and make take several attempts.

Birds hate flying newspapers from the deliverers hand. can be dangerous. newspaper soaks the rain really quickly. if the newspapers arrive late to be delivered, the delivery people scramble to load and make their deliveries. this can be dangerous with everyone leaving the pickup point at one time. lots of room is required to roll newspapers. on a windy day, the delivery guys have been known to use rocks to hold down the newspapers, especially those delivered to news stands. and finally, if the newspapers blow away, chances are they will never be recovered intact.

When i was ten years old, i use to deliver newspapers. this is how my answer came to be.

That paragraph actually makes no sense and neither does my answer.

bkcunningham1's avatar

I think that is good john65pennington. Once a newspaper is printed and delivered, if something breaks loose, you can’t get a second chance to reprint that day’s news.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Oh,go f_y a _i__! XD

LostInParadise's avatar

The paragraph is talking about some activity. My guess is that it is about building a campfire or perhaps flying a kite. Unfortunately, in either case, not all the pieces fit together, but a number do.

YARNLADY's avatar

One of the above answers gave it away.

mattbrowne's avatar

Okay, here’s the word:


Now, if you like, please read the paragraph again.

LostInParadise's avatar

The only part that threw me was the part about the rock. I have never seen anyone attach the end of the string to a rock. It seems to me that it is always necessary to make slight adjustments to the kite in order to adjust for changes in the wind.

mattbrowne's avatar

I couldn’t solve it either. But reading the text a second time having a kite in mind was quite overwhelming for me. I will share the explanations of the neurologist. Here’s a first good overview:

wundayatta's avatar

I like to think of myself as having great flexibility of mind, but this exercise proved me wrong. I got nowhere with the puzzle.

mattbrowne's avatar

@wundayatta – The goal wasn’t to solve the puzzle. The goal was to observe what you mind was doing while you read the paragraph. Before the kite information. And after.

Cruiser's avatar

@mattbrowne We did this in school where after 10 minutes the teacher had us dissect the paragraph and analyze it line by line. Didn’t help solve the puzzle but it did just what you suggested and let us see how our minds and preconceptions interpret things in varied ways. The second she wrote kite on the chalk board the groans were deafening!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

LOL, that was such a letdown in terms of what it ‘did with my brain’.

bkcunningham1's avatar

I thought it was pretty cool. I hadn’t seen it before and after reading it about three times, I realized it was flying a kite. What is funny to me is that before I knew with certainty what the puzzle was about, I was attempting to justify john65pennington guess in my mind. With his guess of delivering newspapers in my mind, I read through the paragraph and thought, yeah, maybe that is right. It is interesting how one word can make such a tremendous impact on how we see the bigger picture.

wundayatta's avatar

@mattbrowne It seemed to me that my mind was running around like crazy and getting nowhere. Afterwards it felt stupid.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – Sorry about your disappointment. And I’m sure you won’t blame prenatal hormones ;-)

@wundayatta – No, no. You should feel elated. Well, I did. I said to myself: wow. How the perspective can shift so dramatically. The issue is about parts of our brains which are “silently” observing what other parts of the brain are doing. Struggling to find connections. Associations. Reading the paragraph the first time triggers a neuronal firework. See comments by Robert Burton (the book was recommended to me on Fluther but I can’t remember who it was).

mattbrowne's avatar

Robert Burton: “In an instant, without due conscious deliberation, the paragraph has been irreversibly infused with a feeling of knowing. Try to imagine other interpretations for the paragraph. Suppose I tell you that this is a collaborative poem written by a third-grade class, or a collage of strung-together fortune cookie quotes. Your mind balks. The presence of this feeling of knowing makes contemplating alternatives physically difficult.

Each of us probably read the paragraph somewhat differently, but certain features seem universal. After seeing the word kite, we quickly go back and reread the paragraph, testing the sentences against this new piece of information. At some point, we are convinced. But when and how?

The kite paragraph raises several questions central to our understanding of how we “know” something. Though each will be discussed at greater length in subsequent chapters, here’s a sneak preview. Did you consciously “decide” that kite was the correct explanation for the paragraph, or did this decision occur involuntarily, outside of conscious awareness?

What brain mechanism(s) created the shift from not knowing to knowing?

When did this shift take place?

Did you know that the explanation was correct before, during, or after you reread the paragraph?

After reading the paragraph, are you able to consciously separate out the feeling of knowing that kite is the correct answer from a reasoned understanding that the answer is correct?

Are you sure that kite is the correct answer? If so, how do you know?” (from the book “On being Certain”)

There are numerous people on the web discussing Burton’s questions and answers related to this paragraph. This Google search will give you over 600 results."A+seashore+is+a+better+place+than+the+street"&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=m1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

YARNLADY's avatar

@mattbrowne Thanks for the answer. My reaction to seeing kite and re-reading the words was “Well, I guess it fits, but still doesn’t make any sense”.

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