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Baskerville Is the Greatest Font, Statistically, Says Filmmaker Errol Morris

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the your-brain-is-vulnerable dept.

The Media 158

An anonymous reader writes "A survey of unsuspecting New York Times readers implicitly answered the question: Does a certain font make you agree or disagree more often than another font? It turns out Baskerville confers a 1.5% advantage towards agreement on a survey question, compared to an average of six fonts. They were asked to agree or disagree to a passage from physicist David Deutsch's book The Beginning of Infinity, and were found to have an optimistic, if Baskerville-favoring, outlook on life. David Dunning, a psychologist awarded a Nobel prize and, separately, an IgNobel prize (for the eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect), called Baskerville 'the king of fonts.' Sadly, Comic Sans — notable for its appearance in the Higgs Boson announcement — seems to be the weakest font. And why did Lisa Randall, the Harvard physicist responsible for that Higgs announcement use Comic Sans? According to the article, 'Because I like it.'"

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158 comments

watch the "Helvtica" documentary... (4, Insightful)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#40930695)

Re:watch the "Helvtica" documentary... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40930841)

Mod up. Then watch the film!

Re:watch the "Helvtica" documentary... (3, Interesting)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#40930937)

I recommend the whole "design triology" ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_Trilogy [wikipedia.org]

And for those with more time, to read the 3-volume set "Design Classics 001-999" ... http://uk.phaidon.com/store/design/phaidon-design-classics-9780714843995/ [phaidon.com]

OMG Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40930733)

"Comic Sans - notable for its appearance in the Higgs Boson announcement" "Because I like it."

Are you trying to kill the weak among the font aficionados? Comic Sans may be notable, but not for anything good.

Re:OMG Flamebait - Flame on! (4, Interesting)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about 2 years ago | (#40931151)

Dyslexia [dyslexic.com]

While not the best, it's decent and by far the most widely available (of the fonts dyslexics find easier to read).

Re:OMG Flamebait - Flame on! (-1, Troll)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40932261)

There is nothing decent about it. Comic Sans is an abomination. It is clumsy, childish, ugly and dare I say retarded.

Re:OMG Flamebait (1)

bob zee (701656) | about 2 years ago | (#40931585)

I once had a manager (engineering manager - didn't even know what a dowel pin was...) that used comic sans for everything. It sure doesn't make it easy to take a person very seriously.

Re:OMG Flamebait (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#40932511)

An odd trend I noticed while going through the public school system is that every science teacher I ever had used Comic Sans--including two professors in college. The plural of anecdote is not data, but somehow I'm not surprised that Lisa Randall, a physicist, likes Comic Sans.

Compensatory depletion (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#40930739)

And why did Lisa Randall, the Harvard physicist responsible for that Higgs announcement use Comic Sans? According to the article, 'Because I like it.'"

Given the mostly fixed number of neurons available to any single individual, the talent for physics must have come from somewhere... obviously, the aesthetics circuits got the short end of the deal.

Re:Compensatory depletion (4, Interesting)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#40930863)

I majored in physics in college, and spent a lot of time with physicists from world renowned Nobel prize winners to lowly undergraduates. I can testify that physicists, in addition to lacking any appreciation for visual aesthetics, also lack the ability to properly dress themselves, shave their faces, comb their hair, speak to an audience not of their peers, and most of all they have no understanding of proper hygiene. We used to have a lounge out of which at least half a dozen kids were living, toothbrushes and all. The stench still haunts me. I remember walking into the lavatory where 3-4 physics majors were taking a shower out of a sink.

Oh, and lest you think I'm a-hatin', most of the above applies to me as well.

Re:Compensatory depletion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931019)

Feynman being, of course, being an outlier.

Re:Compensatory depletion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931061)

in addition to lacking any appreciation for visual aesthetics

This is what baffles me the most. I can understand that physicists might be scruffy, mostly wear jeans and t-shirts, and have difficulty talking to non-physicists, but no appreciation for visual aesthetics? Where the' did you study physics?

Re:Compensatory depletion (4, Funny)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#40931239)

Having met Lisa Randall at a conference down under I can say fortunately she not only showered that day but also looked quite hot. Mind you this was several years ago and I was single so admittedly so did Margaret Thatcher

Re:Compensatory depletion (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#40931425)

...but also looked quite hot... ...and I was single so admittedly so did Margaret Thatcher

Seek counselling. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#40931447)

Not exactly "hot" generally but a decent looking woman and for a professor of physics we could give her hot in that realm.

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931731)

For a 50 year old she's doing a lot better than a lot of the women we idolize who literally fall apart at 30.

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40932373)

Margaret Thatcher...attractive? What form of sexual perversion / brain abnormality / sight defect is it that you suffer from?

Re:Compensatory depletion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40932883)

Margaret Thatcher...attractive? What form of sexual perversion / brain abnormality / sight defect is it that you suffer from?

An extreme case of Sexualis Deprivatus?

(I think people's joke detectors need to be sent to the shop today.)

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931343)

You might be correct, I didn't major in physics and didn't spend time around many who did.

But this article isn't about aesthetics, though that is likely a factor. This is about presenting information to people in a way that convinces them.

While that might seem a minor point, it is critical in that quite a lot of work these days is done either by a team or people or as a project that requires approval/implementation by some managerial level. Since many decisions that will have to be made can't be distilled down to some clear quantitative criteria, the ability to make a persuasive argument is very important. Important enough that people like Edward Tufte can make a very comfortable living showing people ways their data presentations can be more effective.

Stealing an example from Tufte, if you look at either NASA shuttle disaster, it is clear that even in rooms full of very smart people the way evidence is presented very much influences decision making.

The Geek Heirarchy (3)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 2 years ago | (#40931557)

No, not that one [brunching.com] . Or this one [xkcd.com] .

When I started at a NASA center, working with a bunch of physicists for the most part, I found I was being sent to an AAS (American Astronomical Society) meeting. I don't remember exactly what my boss said that was disparaging about astronomers, but I do remember he said something to the effect, 'but at least they're not mathmeticians, as they generally bathe at least once a week'.

So, just remember -- they might've been cleaning themselves out of the sink -- but at least they were cleaning themselves.

(and well, during undergrad, I think I had a period of about 10-14 days when I don't think I went above ground ... at least not when the sun was out (and it was summer) ... the problem is, you can't tell just how ripe you've managed to get ... so engineers aren't always the best group, either).

Re:Compensatory depletion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931903)

You're merely describing the average person with aspergers. Same can be said about most computer programmers. Hence the relative unpopularity of GNU/anything on the desktop, sadly :(

Re:Compensatory depletion (3, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | about 2 years ago | (#40931913)

I majored in physics in college, and spent a lot of time with physicists from world renowned Nobel prize winners to lowly undergraduates. I can testify that physicists, in addition to lacking any appreciation for visual aesthetics, also lack the ability to properly dress themselves, shave their faces, comb their hair, speak to an audience not of their peers, and most of all they have no understanding of proper hygiene. We used to have a lounge out of which at least half a dozen kids were living, toothbrushes and all. The stench still haunts me. I remember walking into the lavatory where 3-4 physics majors were taking a shower out of a sink. Oh, and lest you think I'm a-hatin', most of the above applies to me as well.

this is how I learn I'm a physics genius?

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

R3d Jack (1107235) | about 2 years ago | (#40931247)

As a software engineer, I hear that response (or, "I hate it") all the time when discussing design points with other engineers. So much for objective evaluation of criteria. Personally, when it comes to that line of reasoning, I hate it.

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

hoggoth (414195) | about 2 years ago | (#40931353)

> I hear that response (or, "I hate it") [...] Personally, when it comes to that line of reasoning, I hate it

heh. i see what you did there.

Ultimate pedantry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931263)

"It would be cruel to say that [people who complain about the use of Comic Sans on the Higgs Bosson announcement] picked on the font because it was the only part of the presentation they understood [...but...] that's exactly what happened. The scientists had just used a machine that makes the Saturn V moon rocket look like a sparkler to interrogate reality itself, and these dumbasses were trying to look superior because they prefer letters with curly bits at the ends."

source [cracked.com]

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40931331)

Given the mostly fixed number of neurons available to any single individual, the talent for physics must have come from somewhere... obviously, the aesthetics circuits got the short end of the deal.

Or perhaps it is a rather clever method of weeding out people who look beyond the aesthetics towards the actual content (i.e. people who are actually capable of understanding the presentation in the first place) from those who are unable to distinguish appearance from content and thus are unlikely to contribute much of anything of note towards the scientific discussion. Probably not, but maybe.

Re:Compensatory depletion (4, Funny)

gdr (107158) | about 2 years ago | (#40931551)

Every time I ever get an email or printout using Comic Sans it's from a woman. I got a name sign for my cubical in Comic Sans and I had to print myself a new one because I don't work in a f***ing kindergarten.

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

stephathome (1862868) | about 2 years ago | (#40931941)

Oh no, kindergarten teachers pick far worse fonts. My daughter's kindergarten teacher favored a font which was almost illegible. At least you can read Comic Sans, even if it's awful.

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40932535)

I find Comic Sans very hard to read. Times New Roman too. Can't understand how these fonts can be allowed to exist!

Re:Compensatory depletion (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40932455)

Fabiola Gianotti was responsible for using Comic Sans, not Lisa Randall. Summary is wrong.

82.4% of statistics are made up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40930773)

And..
Statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital.

Re:82.4% of statistics are made up (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931011)

If statistics are a bikini, then Goatse is the naked truth.

I read the article... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40930787)

and Lisa Randall was not the responsible for the announcement.

Lisa Randall, a Harvard physicist, kindly e-mailed Fabiola Gianotti on my behalf. Gianotti, the coordinator of the CERN program to find the Higgs boson, provided a compelling rationale for why she had used Comic Sans. When asked, she said, “Because I like it.”

Lisa *asked* the responsible.

Oh editors, I miss the times where at least you read the submitted articles. Now the anonymous guy can write whatever he wants in the summary and you'll publish it.

Re:I read the article... (4, Funny)

edsousa (1201831) | about 2 years ago | (#40930831)

and I should start to login before posting... Now that I think of, the submitter probably used Baskerville in his submission to fool the editors-

Re:I read the article... (1)

fondacio (835785) | about 2 years ago | (#40930905)

Funny - I noticed the same mistake (and posted it before I noticed that you did). And then I thought of the same joke, but didn't bother to make it.

Re:I read the article... (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40932591)

You got to that before me. Well done sir. That summary is pitifully inaccurate and am I exaggerating in saying that accusing an innocent physicist of using Comic Sans is defamatory?

1.5% from a survey? (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#40930819)

Where are the error bars?

Re:1.5% from a survey? (2)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 2 years ago | (#40930873)

A statistic where they measured out of 6 fonts which one made you *agree* to something the most.

==> Article Title: "The Greatest Font"

Re:1.5% from a survey? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40930881)

They don't seem to represent the sampling uncertainty graphically as error bars, but if you scroll down to the paragraph that starts with "Are the results the product of chance?", they do a basic statistical analysis, and find that Baskerville performs better than average with p < 0.01 (and still p < 0.05, if you do a Bonferroni correction).

Re:1.5% from a survey? (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 2 years ago | (#40931077)

I'm a little bit concerned that they might not be properly accounting for multiple comparisons. The test involves six fonts, and the correction that they suggest assumes that this means there are six comparisons. Is that really the correct approach?

There are actually fifteen pairwise comparisons possible (A-B, A-C, A-D, A-E, A-F; B-C, B-D, B-E, B-F; C-D, C-E, C-F; D-E, D-F; E-F). Using the - admittedly conservative - Bonferroni correction, the result is no longer significant.

Re:1.5% from a survey? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40931249)

I believe they're testing each font's performance against the average performance, rather than looking for pairwise differences between a specific pair of fonts.

Re:1.5% from a survey? (1)

jasonphysics (972225) | about 2 years ago | (#40933043)

The NYTimes experiment has a probability of being a fluke that is 1 in 150, whereas the Comic Sans experiment (measured the same way) is 2 in a billion: http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7214 [arxiv.org]

Re:1.5% from a survey? (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#40931119)

On 7500 sample you are looking at a std dev of around 0.5% ... so error bars (at 95% confidence) would be VERY ROUGHLY plus/minus 1%

Obligatory... (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40930843)

Achewood:

http://achewood.com/index.php?date=07052007 [achewood.com]

--
BMO

Re:Obligatory... (1)

alphatel (1450715) | about 2 years ago | (#40930935)

More Oblig: first comic sans joke [blogspot.com]

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931009)

Note that Comic Sans appears to be a worse offense than using triple exclamation marks, twice, and all caps.

Comic sans is likely the most divisive font (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#40930849)

Almost everyone has a reaction to it, positive or negative. Few people see it and just read it.

Re:Comic sans is likely the most divisive font (4, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | about 2 years ago | (#40931349)

Damnit! I knew Obama shouldn't have written the Affordable Care Act in Comic Sans!

Re:Comic sans is likely the most divisive font (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#40931427)

Damnit! I knew Congress shouldn't have written the Affordable Care Act in Comic Sans!

Fixed that for 'ya. I know you're trying to be funny, but you can be factual at the same time.

Further studies? (2)

Greenspark (2652053) | about 2 years ago | (#40930861)

I think that an interesting follow-up study would compare subject matter and typeface pairing. That is, I believe that an article in physics is more likely to be taken seriously if it is set in a typeface (not a font, btw) like Baskerville than in comic sans. But what if you're subject matter is meant to be humorous? I suspect that people find it funnier if it is written in the comic sans than if it is written in Baskerville. Also, what typeface are people accustomed to reading such material in? Experience may play a large factor.

Anyway, it’s an interesting result, all the same. I'm sure the marketers will be thrilled to discover that they could grab another 1.5% if they'd just use the proper type.

Mistake in the summary (5, Informative)

fondacio (835785) | about 2 years ago | (#40930877)

The summary misstates the person responsible for using Comic Sans in the Higgs boson announcement. The full quote:

Lisa Randall, a Harvard physicist, kindly e-mailed Fabiola Gianotti on my behalf. Gianotti, the coordinator of the CERN program to find the Higgs boson, provided a compelling rationale for why she had used Comic Sans. When asked, she said, “Because I like it.”

I was already wondering why a Harvard physicist would be making the announcement of a discovery by CERN.

Re:Mistake in the summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40930949)

Because she works at CERN?

Re:Mistake in the summary (3, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#40931059)

CERN is in Europe, but almost any high-energy physicist worth a damn has rotated through there or one of the previous colliders. High energy physics is necessarily international, due to the costs and politics involved.

Very interesting. (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 2 years ago | (#40930891)

Time to update my resume.

Re:Very interesting. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931217)

Is the problem that your resume isn't in Baskerville or that it is in Comic Sans?

Re:Very interesting. (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#40931405)

Is the problem that your resume isn't in Baskerville or that it is in Comic Sans?

Sadly, those may not be mutually exclusive options.

Re:Very interesting. (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#40931513)

Take your resume lessons from this [businessinsider.com] guy.
Read bottom up.

Re:Very interesting. (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#40933099)

Thanks for the link. It fits in perfectly with the book I am attempting to write.

Computer modern (2)

Vintermann (400722) | about 2 years ago | (#40930933)

This is probably a result of an occupational hazard, but I know very well that I pay more attention to text typeset in Computer Modern. Even though it is the default font in LaTeX, to that what Times New Roman is to Word.

Re:Computer modern (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#40931067)

I recall reading somewhere that Knuth considered his computer modern typeface to be "ugly", but yet I find that cmr is quite consistently a favorite among people who work with scientific or technical documents.

Was Knuth being needlessly modest, or did the industry that was most likely to be using software like TeX simply get so accustomed to seeing it that it started to look attractive to them?

Re:Computer modern (3, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#40931315)

The reason for Computer Modern's ugliness isn't apparent until you know what it's imitating. This [imgur.com] is a comparison of CM and Bodoni 12, a font from the early 19th century. So-called "Modern" typefaces were frequently used for setting professional and mathematical treatises (and Slashdot's had an article in the past about how being difficult to read slows down the reader and gives them time to absorb the material.)

Essentially, the problem with CM is that it has straight flat parts on the sides of curves (e.g. the bowls of d and b), which make the font feel synthetic, like Chicago [identifont.com] . The rigidity of the figures makes the letters feel as though they were assembled out of parts (which they were), rather than organically drawn.

Re:Computer modern (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931701)

Take some text and set it in Computer Modern, Clarendon, and Century Schoolbook. Then you'll see how ugly it really is.

Re:Computer modern (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 2 years ago | (#40931085)

You need to stop being a fontist. Computer Modern looks a lot like Century Oldschool and troff/postscript use Times. I check the justification before refusing to read something.

Re:Computer modern (1)

SebNukem (188921) | about 2 years ago | (#40931279)

Where can I find this font for Linux? I just love the look of it. I recognise it instantly. Every paper, book or document using that font unconsciously feels of higher quality to me.

Re:Computer modern (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#40931317)

If you have any major distribution of TeX, then you have the font already.

Bush v Gore (1, Funny)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about 2 years ago | (#40930939)

So, basically, world history might have taken a different turn if Al Gore's campaign had used Baskerville. And wouldn't Comic Sans have been the perfect match for 43? Ah, democracy, lead us onwards.

Dunning doesn't have a Nobel Prize (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#40930957)

I'm really fond of the Dunning-Kruger effect to the point where I mention it almost daily and people get annoyed with me. So I was really surprised to hear the claim in summary that Dunning had a Nobel. What would it be in? The last time a psychologist got a Nobel it was for work related to economics. Sure, enough 10 seconds of fact checking, verified that he's not on any list of Nobel Laureates, such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates [wikipedia.org] or the official lists at Nobelprize.org. The claim about Dunning getting a Nobel isn't in TFA so I'm not sure where it came from.

Re:Dunning doesn't have a Nobel Prize (5, Funny)

badfish99 (826052) | about 2 years ago | (#40931015)

I'm really fond of the Dunning-Kruger effect to the point where I mention it almost daily

So: would you say that you have an expert level of skill and knowledge on this particular topic?

Re:Dunning doesn't have a Nobel Prize (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#40931109)

He won an Ig-Nobel prize, but not a Nobel AFAIK. It mentions neither in TFA.

Re:Dunning doesn't have a Nobel Prize (2)

ewld (2037936) | about 2 years ago | (#40931833)

He won an Ig-Nobel prize, but not a Nobel AFAIK. It mentions neither in TFA.

Indeed, he won the Ig Nobel together with Kruger in 2000 [improbable.com] , but the Ig Nobels are clearly different from the Nobel prizes [improbable.com] :

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Testing... (5, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#40930987)

<p style="{font-family: Baskerville;}">You should send 10M€ to my bank account.</p>

Re:Testing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931193)

I want to send 10M to your bank account.

Please post your account number and routing code.

Re:Testing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40932217)

<p style="font-family: Baskerville;">You should send 10M€ to my bank account.</p>

oh get over being upset at comic sans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931025)

It's not a bad, font... it's actually a great font. It's people using it in appropriately that bothers you.
In the early 80's everyone with Print Shop was obsessed with outline fonts and old west fonts
In the Early 90's it was all the Calligraphy fonts.

All of them have their use. Some more general purpose than others.
Anyone who gets their panties twisted up over use of Comic Sans for its own sake is an asshat

I'm not sure I believe this story (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40931035)

I'm not sure I believe this story. But I probably would if it were displayed in Baskerville.

LOL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931053)

A serif font? Fail.

Calibri and Arial are miles more readable.

Re:LOL! (2)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#40931201)

More readable? yes. Agreeable? Apparently not. Save Calibri and Arial for the technical manual but make sure your marketing literature is covered in Baskerville. Maybe since the text is not quite as readable perhaps it slows the reader down to a point where the text seems to be visually "spoken" at a slower pace. People who talk intelligently but at a slightly slower pace tend to draw in their audience and they don't come across as suspicious fast-talkers. Maybe that's the effect that Baskerville is having on the reader. That and Baskerville is most commonly associated with the CANADA wordmark, and what could possibly be more polite, friendly, and agreeable than Canada?

Its really depressing (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40931117)

Its really depressing that with all the new fonts, studies of perception, cognition, etc, the greatest font is one that was designed in 1757 [wikipedia.org] .

Baskerville Is the Greatest Font... out of the six (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#40931235)

So what this study really tells us is that Baskerville is the greatest (most trustworthy) font out of the six chosen for the experiment - and one of those was Comic Sans.

compared to an average of six fonts

Err, what? I think it was compared to exactly five other fonts.

Courier 10 Pitch (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about 2 years ago | (#40931293)

Just plain courier, it was good enough for gramps, it's good enough for me too. No need worry about your fancy proportional fonts like you're king of France or something.

Selective negative bias already?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931345)

Do the 'scientists' at NYT know that it's highly possible that a lot of Windows users might not have the font installed on their system AT ALL?

Just because they use Mac, they assume everybody MUST use mac.

I found the article very interesting, but can't get over the fact that they had no control on what the end user was seeing. And a LOT of them were likely seeing Times New Roman instead of the mac font.

Helvetica FTW (4, Funny)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | about 2 years ago | (#40931365)

"Yo, Baskerville, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but I just got to say Helvetica is one of the best fonts of all time."

Now your living... the High Life. (1)

Alderweis (98580) | about 2 years ago | (#40931403)

So Errol Morris is the guy responsible for the greatest advertising campaign of all time. http://www.errolmorris.com/commercials/miller.html

I won't say High Life is one of the beers I prefer because of these advertisements, but they sure are a part of why I first tried it. (its a favorite of mine because 6-pack of bottles for less than 5 dollars of a beer that is extremely drinkable is most definitely gold.)

Re:Now your living... the High Life. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40931977)

It's a testament to the power of marketing that anyone thinks that Miller is "extremely drinkable".

Cultural Differences ? (2)

eulernet (1132389) | about 2 years ago | (#40931407)

I'm a french guy, and I never saw the Baskerville font used in France.

I'm pretty sure that this font has a cultural connotation for english people, but not for the rest of the world.

When one reads a text in Baskerville, one probably unconsciously associates it with ancient books, and with ancient wisdom.

An interesting experience would be to write a "modern" question (using recent words) with Baskerville, and measure its impact.

Re:Cultural Differences ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931675)

You are correct. You probably see a lot of Bodoni/Didot. Baskerville and Goudy are most popular in the USA.

Re:Cultural Differences ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40932055)

Quite a few other fonts do. I always wondered why the LA Times use that edgy almost Germanic font (Engravers Old English) for their name Logo [latimes.com] Would street gangs have used that font for their tattoos if the newspaper has chosen something more modern?

At university, I always found that hand-outs with those sharp pointy fonts gave me sore eyes, but some academics seemed to insist on these fonts for their "traditional appearance" (they had been used to having everything typed out - Theano Didot [gstatic.com]
I'd download the online version and change the font to Helvetica. Was their preference based on the textbooks they had read?

"Data70" is another classic font that was meant to be futuristic in the 1970's, but it is now seen as somewhat "retro" forty years later.

Not me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40931449)

Baskerville looks like the font used by 1800's snake oil salesman.

Garamond (4, Interesting)

khendron (225184) | about 2 years ago | (#40931475)

In the Typography course I took, we were taught that the greatest font of all time is Garamond [wikipedia.org] .

It wasn't even tested in this article.

Re:Garamond (2)

OutLawSuit (1107987) | about 2 years ago | (#40932257)

I guess that's why Wikipedia uses it on their logo.

Ah, one of the classic blunders (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40931613)

Determining there is a difference between two things because one is significantly different than a reference and the other is not.

He also doesn't say what was compared. And the result is pretty marginal. Interesting, but definitely not the law of nature he implies.

What if the reader didn't have that font? (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | about 2 years ago | (#40931763)

How would you know, when I viewed the linked quiz it was helvetica. The 1.5% might be linux users!

Passage (1)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about 2 years ago | (#40931843)

They responded to a passage from asked to agree or disagree to a passage

Good thing the editors were not involved in this study. They would have had to read the passage... and then respond to a passage from asked to agree or disagree to a passage.

I mean, honestly.

Statistically meaningless... (1)

dsmithhfx (1772254) | about 2 years ago | (#40932277)

...result from a poorly-designed survey. This is the kind of stupefying trivia that is the hobgoblin of little minds, bad designers and their far too numerous acolytes. cf. "Helvetica", the movie.

Summary is wrong (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 2 years ago | (#40932427)

It is Fabiola Gianotti that used Comic Sans because she liked it. Not Lisa Randall. RTFA - or at least the relevant parts.

Now if only I could change my /. post font... (0)

bennomatic (691188) | about 2 years ago | (#40932843)

...I might get some good karma!

Segoe UI (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#40932941)

While it is the rare occasion in Slashdot when we are talking about fonts, I gotta mention that I have become really enamored to Segoe UI as a screen font. So this is the default UI font you see in Windows 6.x. I use it even in Ubuntu, heh.

I disagree (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40932955)

the summary is written in another font, so i must disagree.

Ok, because of that and that the choosing on the font probably is influenced by other things, popular enough (don't know, i.e. old prints of the bible or old style scientific papers) written in that font or similar enough ones in key aspects that rigs our judgement.

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