Time to Chop Chomsky

This article lays out the case against Chomsky’s universal grammar theories. Essentially, despite decades of refining the theory, it has never been able to accommodate all languages. More damningly, it doesn’t correspond to research about how children learn their native language.

The alternatives that are coming up, it seems, view language a bit like the way neuro-scientists  are starting to think about consciousness, as an emergent property of the brain. The authors are careful to denote that there is no comprehensive, widely-accepted usage theory to replace universal grammar. But, as more and more corpora become available and more brain science is done, it is very likely that a better model will emerge.


The Learning Style Myth

Ask many teachers and parents, and you’ll likely find a great deal of belief in learning styles, or more accurately, learning preferences. It’s an appealing, intuitive idea: when learning some new material, different students will respond better to differentiated lesson styles. Yet, the evidence for this is surprisingly thin. In fact, a number of studies have found quite the opposite.

Most relevant studies show that while students may indicate that they have a learning preference (audio, visual, kinesthetic), that preference has little relation to their learning outcomes. In fact, most people benefit for a variety of different lesson modalities; retention is much better when more than one method is used to reinforce a lesson’s objectives.

This week’s episode of the Skeptics Guide the Universe discusses some of the issues in the topic, in their “Spot the Logical Fallacy” segment. Of particular interest here is how so many trained educators are willing to ignore observational-based research in favor of their own anecdotal evidence, which unfortunately is subject to confirmation bias.


Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑