Bad Science

There’s a new scientific study that’s making the rounds of social media, in which researchers concluded that double-spacing after periods is better than single-spacing, because people are able to read more quickly when text has two spaces after a period.

Well, as both a writer and a former scientist, I feel compelled to respond.

Now, to be upfront, aside from being both a writer and a former scientist, I am also an obstinate single-spacer, so I don’t purport to be objective. But having said that, I’m just going to quote the abstract of the study itself:

Individuals’ typing usage also influenced these effects such that those who use two spaces following a period showed the greatest overall facilitation from reading with two spaces.

And an explanation from the Washington Post article:

Reading speed only improved marginally, the paper found, and only for the 21 “two-spacers,” who naturally typed with two spaces between sentences.  The majority of one-spacers, on the other hand, read at pretty much the same speed either way.  And reading comprehension was unaffected for everyone, regardless of how many spaces followed a period.

That’s dumb.

So basically, if someone has already conditioned themselves to prefer two spaces after periods, then they read better with two spaces periods. People who already use one space exhibited little to no difference in reading speed.

I fail to see how this is a valid conclusion at all.

And of course, the study fails to acknowledge the indisputable fact that when it comes to typing, single-spacing is more efficient. It only picks one aspect of the craft of writing and focuses on that (and does so poorly).

Bad science! Bad! Now, go sit in the corner and think about what you just did.

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