Are crosswords anti-reading?

August 21, 2008
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Ron Rosenbaum at Slate.com seems think so.

"What always gets to me," he writes, "is the self-congratulatory assumption on the part of puzzle people that their addiction to the useless habit somehow proves they are smarter or more literate than the rest of us."

And he takes major shots at Crawfordsville-native and puzzle guru Will Shortz in the process.

Read his whole slap-you-in-the-5-Down essay here.

So, puzzle-lovers, how do you counter-argue? How to rationalize hours spent with crosswords, Sudoku and the like?

Your thoughts?
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  • As an occasional puzzle person, I was somewhat shocked to find I was wasting my time. I could be reading opionated self riteous commentary instead of doing a little brain exercise (by the way, puzzles, especially trying out new kinds of puzzles has be shown to be effective in preventing/delaying onset of Alzheimer's and other dementias).

    Perhaps I should stop physical exercise as well since I could also be using that time to be more productive.

    Carolyn
  • I found it interesting that Ron believes puzzling is a 'habit'. I think that for myself and others I know, it is more of a down-time, relaxing thing to do. I usually only work on puzzles when my mind is overloaded with books, TV, work, media, long stretches of highway... Puzzles have and always will be a form of entertainment. Maybe the reason Ron doesn't puzzle is because he sees them as mindless 'work'. I do agree that some people can take them too seriously and can equate their crossword greatness to genius-ness, but don't you think writing a whole article on the uselessness of puzzles is a bigger waste of time?
  • I bet she has never completed a crossword puzzle herself. But seriously, crossword puzzles build vocabulary and exercise the brain. Who could be against that? There are always crazy obsessed people out there who take everything too far, but I think we as a society would be better off if MORE people did crosswords.
  • It's simple - we are smarter than the rest of you.
  • I love reading, and I love doing puzzles. The activities are not mutually exclusive and may be related. Working puzzles may not solve the world's problems, but neither will most hobbies.
  • Funny enough, the people I know that are cross-word puzzles lovers are extremely intelligent and well-informed. Not mentioning the fact that they are voracious readers... So, Ron's theory is probably a very personal opinion about the people he knows...

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