Actually, there’s a better (and more scientifically interesting!) explanation for this seemingly partisan divide. Check out the age split on the same question:
“Yanny” holds a decisive advantage among the young, who happen to lean left, then as you climb the ladder age-wise the balance of opinion tilts increasingly towards “laurel” until you end up with a five-point advantage for the latter among senior citizens — coincidentally the most reliably right-leaning group. The “partisan” split is probably just an artifact of the age divide. And there *is* reason to think that age could be affecting which word one hears in the now-famous audio clip. “Around the age of 50, a lot of people have [begun] losing their high-frequency hearing, which is why experts believe older people would be more likely to hear ‘Laurel,’ and vice versa,” Politifact noted last week. And now here’s the data from HuffPost, backing that up.
See? It’s not that I’m a latte-sipping atheist pajama boy. It’s that I’m a latte-sipping atheist pajama boy with young ears.
“Laurel” isn’t the only garbage opinion held by old people. HuffPost decided to troll-poll a few other sticky issues, like whether a hot dog is a sandwich and whether a period should be followed by one or two spaces. Disgraceful:
A sandwich is two pieces of bread with something in between. A hot-dog roll is one piece of bread split about halfway through. But even if you split the roll all the way, it’s still not a “sandwich.” If ever it was, it’s long since lost that association as the public has come to a universally shared understanding that it has a particular shape and a particular meat — and unlike most other things we think of sandwiches, they can’t properly be varied. It’s a matter of quidditas. “What is the thing in itself? What is its nature?” asked
Hannibal Lecter Marcus Aurelius. The terminology gives it away: You would never think to say “I like hot dog sandwiches” or “My favorite frankfurter sandwich is a hot dog” unless you were a foreigner, a communist, or Mitt Romney. If you asked a hundred people, “What’s your favorite sandwich?”, you’d get all kinds of answers — tuna salad, roast beef, cheese, BLT — but you might not get a single person to say “hot dog.” It’s just no longer part of the sandwich family tree. Same genus, perhaps, but no longer the same species. It’s evolved.
And let’s not get started on hamburgers. The hour’s too late.
Another garbage opinion among older people, although this one is more easily explained:
Two spaces after a period is an artifact of typewriting. Typewritten fonts are monospaced; to make sure the reader noticed that a sentence was over, it helped to stick an extra space in between sentences. No need to do that with computer word processing, where the fonts are proportionally spaced and therefore the space after a period is large enough to signal “new sentence.” The oldies in the poll grew up when typewriting was the only game in town and were taught, quite understandably, to use the two-space model. I hate it because in my mind the extra space seems to add an extra beat after every sentence such that the voice you “hear” while reading comes off as slightly disjointed. It’s dying off, though, as typewriting phases out of the population.
One last note from HuffPost: Overwhelmingly, every age group pronounces “GIF” with a hard “G” like “gift” rather than a soft “G” like “giraffe.” Sometimes the correct opinion is an unpopular one. It’s a cross I frequently have to bear, alas.