Show Me State Legislates Literacy / by William Poundstone

My upcoming book, Head in the Cloud, looks at how mobile devices are devaluing knowledge. Why should we fill our heads with facts, when facts are so easy to look up?

One small though amusing example is the culture war over grammar. Some people go nuts over misspellings on menus and mispronunciations in business meetings. Others—mainly those making these errors—don't see what the big deal is. Falling into the former category is Missouri State Representative Tracy McCreery. She noticed that an alarmingly large proportion of her colleagues use the word physical when meaning fiscal. McCreery therefore introduced House Resolution 1220, a tongue-in-cheek attempt to legislate literacy.

This is one illustration of why knowledge in the cloud isn't a substitute for knowledge in your head. It's easy enough to look up the meaning of a word. But you're not going to do that unless you already have reason to believe that you're using the word incorrectly. You need to know enough grammar and usage to know what you don't know—or alternatively, you need to know enough literate people to be corrected. Apparently many Missouri legislators don't.