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Benedict XVI’s talks more advanced than Obama’s, research finds

By on Thursday, 26 January 2012

Benedict XVI pictured with Barack and Michelle Obama (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI pictured with Barack and Michelle Obama (Photo: CNS)

Benedict XVI’s homilies are pitched at a higher level than the speeches of Barack Obama, according to a popular linguistic test.

Analysis suggests that a reading age of 16 is required to understand the Holy Father, compared to an age of just 13 for Harvard-educated Obama.

The University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics site found that Obama’s state of the union address registered at an eighth grade (13-year-old) reading level, despite the president’s reputation as a brilliant orator.

The score, calculated using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, is the third lowest of any state of the union address since 1934.

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Catholic institute, analysed Benedict XVI’s addresses since September and found that they scored 11.6 (11th grade) using the same test.

And Blessed Pope John Paul II, based on the homilies he gave in America in 1979, had a slightly lower average score of 10.7.

Neither popes, however, could challenge George Washington’s score of 25, the highest ever recorded for a US presidential address.

The Flesch-Kincaid test uses word and sentence length to calculate how easy a text is to read.

  • Deefer Dog

    Proof positive that Pope Benedict XVI knows how to think logically and use his brain in important matters.

    Unfortunately, Obama doesn’t.

  • Sszorin

     Here is one sentence from the beginning of G. Washington’s first inaugural address. : 

    “All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.” Shall we say that old George W.’s style of rhetoric was a bit on the dry and convoluted side ?

  • Parasum

    What happened to:

    “Benedict XVI, in an apparent reference to Twitter, says profound thoughts can be communicated even in concise phrases” ?

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/01/24/pope-praises-silence-and-potential-of-social-media/

    If the heading had been “President Obama, in an apparent reference to Twitter, says profound thoughts can be communicated even in concise phrases”, it would have been seized on as showing how intellectually negligible and incapable of profound thought he was. He would have been ridiculed without mercy.  The Pope says it, and lo, it is heavenly wisdom from high.

    Analysis may well “suggest that a reading age of 16 is required to understand the Holy Father, compared to an age of just 13 for Harvard-educated Obama.”  That could easily be presented as evidence of Obama’s ability to make himself understood to those without his advantages; the article’s “despite” gives the game away. Had their scores been reversed, that would have “proved” how over-academic Obama was, and how admirably simple the Pope’s manner of speech was. If Obama is a moronic git for scoring 13,  where does JP2′s even lower score leave *him* ? 

    “Proof positive that Pope Benedict XVI knows how to think logically and use his brain in important matters.

    Unfortunately, Obama doesn’t. ”

    ## Pity that JP2 scored a measly 10.7 – lower than Obama.  By the CARA test, Pope Benedict XVI also scores lower than Obama: not 16, but 11.6 – below Obama’s 13, not above it.

  • Raphael

    Well that may indicate why the Holy Father is often misunderstood and then have his comments clarified