Urban Legend

On last night’s CSI:NY (Some Buried Bones), a rerun from February of this year, reference was made to a college policy of awarding straight A’s to anyone who has suffered emotional distress as, for example, experiencing the death of a roommate. This idea was also featured on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and even on an episode of The Simpsons as well as in the films Dead Man on Campus and Dead Man’s Curve. No school apparently has such a policy; the story is really an urban legend. But, I wonder how many people have watched these TV shows and movies and think this policy does exist. And I wonder why TV and film writers write about this ridiculous "policy". Snopes.com (from which I took some of the above information) gives a thorough but brief explanation of this urban legend (http://www.snopes.com/college/admin/suicide.asp) along with a good suggestion for additional information.

Students and Free Speech

Here is a bit more on some of the issues involved in students, free speech, and college's censoring dissenting views.


Public Speaking, the Advantage

Here's just a little bit more "evidence" for the value of public speaking and especially debate. It's unfortunate that so many students don't realize the tremendous value of public speaking skills until they're out in the workplace.


Students and Free Speech

As you probably know the Supreme Court has recently ruled against the Alaskan student who raised a banner (“Bong Hits 4 Jesus”) as the Olympic torch passed by—at an off-campus event. The Court ruled that the school officials who suspended the student were within their rights to punish him because this was a message promoting drugs. Well, the sad fact of the matter is that apparently you do lose some of your free speech rights when you become a student. Incredible as that may sound.


Happiness and Communication

Happiness—the feeling of pleasure, enjoyment, contentment, joy, satisfaction—has an obvious connection with communication—at least once you think about it. And yet surprisingly little is written about this connection. For example, none of a very unrepresentative sample of interpersonal communication textbooks--my own Interpersonal Messages and The Interpersonal Communication Book, Verderber & Verderber’s Inter-Act, Adler, Proctor, & Towne’s Looking Out/Looking In, Adler, Rosenfeld, & Proctor’s Interplay, Knapp & Vangelisti’s Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships, and even the 842 page Knapp and Daly Handbook of Interpersonal Communication—have the word “happiness” in the index. We need to do something about this neglect.
Here then is just a sampling of the communications that make us happy, purposely limited to an even ten and just intended to suggest ways of thinking about communication that many textbooks neglect.
1. Receiving a compliment, a word of praise, a “job well done” and, not surprisingly, paying a compliment to another
2. A warm smile and smiling yourself
3. Hearing or saying and meaning “thank you”
4. Having someone say “I’m so pleased to meet you” and knowing they mean it and saying it yourself when you mean it
5. Managing a conflict in a way that satisfies everyone and strengthens, rather than weakens, the relationship
6. Focused eye contact that says “I like you”
7. A hug, a pat on the back, a warm handshake
8. Being in a relationship where confirming behaviors are common and frequent
9. Exchanging cherishing behaviors
10. Talking among supportive friends



The Communication Blog was just nominated for Best Education Blog. If you'd like to vote for it or for any other blogs (there are lots of categories), you can go to


where you'll find the voting "booth". You'll have to copy and paste the above URL; the link (nomination) doesn't seem to get you there.

My site was nominated for Best Education Blog!


Public Speaking

Take a look at this brief announcement of Hamilton College's Public Speaking Camp. What a great idea. Here is a great way to prepare young students for high school and college and at the same time teach them the crucial skills of public speaking. This is something that more colleges should consider offering.


The Commencement Speech

Here are a few tips built around the acronym BRIEF for effective commencement speeches from Toastmasters.


Nassau County and Poet Laureate

Here is just one of the many articles on Nassau County's rejection of the unanimously nominated candidate for poet laureate because apparently some of his poetry criticized the war in Iraq which someone asked for. Or you can simply go to Google (Web or News) and type in Nassau County +poet laureate and you'll find lots of such articles.


Nonverbal Communication Pioneer

Here's a brief obituary of one of the pioneer's in nonverbal communication research.


Nassau County’s Shame

So, Nassau County was ready to nominate their first poet laureate—a six member committee voted unanimously for Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. But, then it was discovered that not all of his poems were sufficiently pro-war; in fact, some had criticized the war. So, in the end, the committee to nominate a poet laureate, voted 6 to 1 against his being appointed because they didn’t like his position on the war. Is Nassau County now going to investigate teachers, police officers, and doctors, for example, and only appoint those who are pro-war? Anyone now appointed poet laureate of Nassau County will have to know that it’s not the poetry that ultimately counts, it’s the poet’s politics. Shame on you Nassau County!


Plagiarism (Again)

Here's an interesting website on plagiarism with great examples.


Here's a recent article on apparent plagiarism by a school superintendent. It gets more and more difficult, it would seem, to convince students not to plagiarize when educational and political leaders are apparently doing it as well.


Graduate Student Must Reading

If you're a graduate student, I think you'll be interested in Mark Hickson's "Why Bother Attending Conferences?" in the October 2006 (which for some reason I just received) issue of Communication Education. It is exactly the kind of article that will help you see the great values in attending academic conferences.

Essentials of Human Communication

I just heard that the 6th edition of Essentials of Human Communication (2008)will be translated into Czech. This is my second book that will be in Czech. It's especially interesting since there are only 10-12 million people who speak Czech as a first language, though others speak it as a second language. Communication, so it would seem, is an important topic in the Czech Republic and I couldn't be more pleased.

Persuasion book

If you want a book on persuasion that's practical for today’s world and at the same time discusses the roots of rhetoric (Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian—the entire group is here), take a look at Jay Heinrichs’ Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion (Three Rivers Press, 2007). The subtitles of just a few of the chapters will give you an idea of the book’s perspective and range: Cicero’s Lightbulb, Eminem’s Rules of Decorum, The Belushi Paradigm, Quintilian’s Useful Doubt, Aristotle’s Favorite Topic, Monty Python’s Treasury of Wit, The Brad Pitt Factor. It’s definitely a book worth looking into.