Thursday, September 30, 2010

Handwriting and the Examined Life

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living, but then Socrates never had to grade the exams. I have a stack of logic blue books in front of me which means I will do everything I can to avoid grading them...including writing a blog post about them. The first thing that strikes every prof when grading is how different the handwriting is. It leads to an empirical question that I've not yet been amply motivated to systematically study and so will, in the worst tradition of philosophy, ask for a priori guesses.

Is there a correlation between neatness of handwriting and success on handwritten exams? There are two elements here. The first of which I am less interested in, does the ease of reading by the instructor make the instructor more likely to give better grades? But we can set this aside by taking something more objective like a logic exam as our second element, which I find more interesting, is neater handwriting indicative of a more ordered mind? There has been handwriting analysis for centuries that has sought to uncover correspondences between personality and writing style. One might think that those who take the time to more neatly compose their answers also take the time to be more composed in answering. On the other hand, doctors are supposed to have notoriously poor handwriting and yet also are supposedly among the more intelligent and educated of the culture.

So, any relation between the neatness of one's handwriting and the cogence of the content of what has been written?