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Research on Communication

"Great Sermon, Pastor, I Didn't Understand a Word!"

J. Scott Armstrong, associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, has demonstrated in a series of tests that both for written and spoken communication, "an unintelligible communication from a legitimate source in the recipient's area of expertise will increase the recipient's rating of the author's competence." Armstrong calls this the "Dr. Fox Hypothesis", based on an experiment in which an actor posed as Dr. Myron R. Fox and delivered a lecture of "double talk," patching raw material from a Scientific American article into non sequiturs and contradictory statements interspersed with jokes and meaningless references to unrelated topics. "The audience of professionals on anonymous questionnaires reported that they 'found the lecture clear and stimulating.'"

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