"Critical Failure" D20s, whispering what's in every roller's heart

The world has long celebrated the "critical hit" D20 face, the elusive 20 that doubles the damage and sets the players around the table baying with elation; but consider its opposite face, the lowly 1, the "critical failure" that lets a sadistic DM dream up all kinds of pratfalls and own-goals to punish the luckless player with. Read the rest

Why swearing can be a good fucking way to sound convincing

Emma Byrne, a science writer and artificial intelligence researcher, has just published a new book called Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language and it sounds fucking great. "If you ask people what they think about swearing, they tend to insist that it diminishes the speaker’s credibility and persuasiveness—-especially if the speaker is a woman," Byrne writes. But actually, a presenter's swears can sometimes make them damn more convincing. From Smithsonian:

In the book, Byrne cites one study that examined the rhetorical effects of swearing on an audience that was already sympathetic to the speaker’s message. For the study, psychologists Cory Scherer of Penn State University and Brad Sagarin from Northern Illinois University showed videotaped speeches to 88 undergraduate students. Participants listened to one of three different versions of a speech about lowering tuition rates at a university—one with no swearing, one that had a “damn” thrown in the middle, and one that opened with a “damn.” The rest of the speech was unchanged.

“The students who saw the video with the swearing at the beginning or in the middle rated the speaker as more intense, but no less credible, than the ones who saw the speech with no swearing,” Byrne summarizes in her book. “What’s more, the students who saw the videos with the swearing were significantly more in favor of lowering tuition fees after seeing the video than the students who didn’t hear the swear word.”

Byrne delineates between what she calls propositional swearing, which is deliberate and planned, and non-propositional swearing, which can happen when we’re surprised, or among friends or confidants.

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The most common swear words on Reddit

Data wizard Gregor0410 crunched the numbers and figured out what the most common swear words on Reddit are. The top two, running almost neck and neck, are "fuck" and "shit." An order of magnitude behind are "dick" and "bullshit", with "cunt" and "cock" putting in respectable totals each similar in size to other swear words combined. [via] Read the rest

Swearing associated with honesty, say scientists

Impoliteness and vulgarity are, according to recent recearch, a sign of honesty. Moreover, "the more an individual swears, the more honest they are likely to be."

They first asked a group of 276 participants about their swearing habits, as well as how honest they were in different situations, and found the most honest people were also the heaviest swearers.

They also found that people were much more likely to use swearing as a way to express themselves and their emotions, rather than in an anti-social or harmful way towards others.

In a second study the researchers tested these findings in a more real-life setting, by analysing the status updates of more than 73,000 Facebook users.

They measured for honesty (previous research shows liars prefer to use third-person pronouns than first-person ones and more negative words) and profanity.

Again, they found that honest people were more likely to use profane language.

They ranked swearing and integrity by U.S. state. The sweariest state, Connecticut (52%), was also the second-most most honest (86%). Polite Utah (26%) scored a relatively untrustworthy 65%.

Most-honest Iowa (87%), though, could only maintain a middling swear rate of 40%. Still, the habitual liars of Georgia (49% integrity) sure talk sweet (36% swears). Read the rest

A fucking interesting history of swearing on television!

I distinctly remember my glee as an 8-year-old watching Hawkeye say "Son of a bitch" on M*A*S*H in 1979, the first time that phrase was used on US television. Read the rest

How to swear British-style

With historical references and details of cultural and regional texture, Anglophenia explains how to utter terms like "bloody", "sod off" and "bollocks" with the proper mix of joy, irritation and indifference. Read the rest

Periodic table of swearing

The Periodic Table of Swearing isn't just a saucy JPG: it's a real-life interactive box that gets down and dirty with everyday English. It was built by Modern Toss—the duo of artists Jon Link and Mick Bunnage—with the design studio Clay. Made with buttons from eightliner-style U.K. fruit machines, the phrases included offer the fullness of British culture, you cock garage.

Interactive Periodic Table of Swearing Extends Your Rude Vocabulary [Wired UK] Read the rest