I’m happy that somebody is exposing the poseur “literary fiction” readers as the frauds that they are, but. . . Science Fiction Makes You Stupid as a blog post title doesn’t accurately describe the results of the study. Sad.
I am glad that the study authors dove into this research to debunk the bullshit spewed in Science in 2013 about how reading literary fiction makes you a better reader and a better person. Nonsense. My criticism is only about how the authors’ promoted their study with their inflammatory blog title. It set the stage for how their good research will be portrayed by the rest of the media.
Proper Study Translation: People who already don’t like a genre will not give genre fiction the same level of attention and careful reading that they would of an identical piece so-called “literary” fiction. If you already disrespect science fiction, your reading comprehension of science fiction will be lower.
The study language is suitably academic and opaque to muggles, so read at your own risk. I guess my bachelors degree in unemployment (political science) and incomplete masters degree in unemployment (public administration) did give me some sort of skill to translate pseudo-intellectual babble. Chris Gavaler and Dan Johnson and probably perfectly nice fellows, and I’m sure that their fiction is much more readable than the paper, “The Genre Effect: A Science Fiction (vs. Realism) Manipulation Decreases Inference Effort, Reading Comprehension, and Perceptions of Literary Merit”, that they had to write for submission to the journal Scientific Study of Literature. You’ve got to meet audience expectations, after all.
The sample size was small (150), but I’ll reserve judgment until I read that whole study. It seems like a solid methodology based on the description they blogged, but I’m skeptical until I read it. I’m lookin’ forward to it.