Mary Beckman

Mary Beckman is a linguistics professor at the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University. As a freelance science writer she has worked for
Science and Smithsonian.

Recent Articles

Gab Bag

When The Daily Show 's Jon Stewart told CNN's Crossfire hosts that their form of combative political commentary was "hurting America," he was on to something. And when CNN/US President Jonathan Klein agreed and canceled the show, he also might have sensed what new research is getting at: "In-your-face" television has the capacity to polarize viewers on political issues and turn people off of the political process. Looking for the source of political polarization, Diana Mutz, a political-science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was skeptical that political discourse in this country has really taken a dive toward boorishness. Citing last year's challenge by Democratic Senator Zell Miller, she said, "We haven't had a duel in a good long time. It's not clear that politicians are acting any different today as in the past." But what has changed in the last 50 years has been the way Americans get to know their candidates. Voters used to gather in town squares and watch...