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Why We’re Polarized

  by Ezra Klein

(about 310 pages)
total words
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
passive voice
of all the books in our library
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

wasSigns You Were Raised by Immigrant Parents.’ That one’s a racial identity but also an immigrant identity.” There are so many more. One of BuzzFeed’s most popular series was “X Things Only a Y Would Understand.” A Google search for those key words brings up articles like “14 Things Only Anxious People Will Understand,” “19 Things Only People with Fibromyalgia Will Understand,” “53 Things Only ’80s Girls Can Understand,” “30 Things Everyone Who Went to College Will Understand,” “27 Struggles You’ll Only Understand if You Were Born Before 1995,” “38 Things Only Someone Who Was a Scout Would Know,” “19 Comics Only Night Owls Will Understand,” “19 Things You’ll Only Understand if You Had Strict Parents,” “18 Photos That Only People Who Had Braces Will Understand.” I could go on. This is identity media in its purest form. When you share “38 Things Only Someone Who Was a Scout Would Know,” you’re saying you were a Scout, and you were a serious enough Scout to understand the signifiers and experiences that only Scouts had. To post that article on Facebook is to make a statement about who you are, who your group is, and, just as important, who is excluded. The rise of BuzzFeed’s quizzes reflected a similar learning. Quizzes revealing—and then letting you share—the answer to questions like “What State Do You Actually Belong In? “Which Disney Princess Are You? “What Level of Introvert Are You? and “Which Hogwarts House Do You Belong In?” II are in our history. You do not need to go back to the country’s early years—when new arrivals from Europe drove out and murdered indigenous peoples, brought over millions of enslaved Africans, and wrote laws making women second-class citizens—to see it. Just a few decades ago, political assassinations were routine. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was murdered on the streets of Dallas. In 1965, Malcolm X was shot to death in a crowded New York City ballroom. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, as was Robert F. Kennedy. In 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, standing about arm’s length from President Gerald Ford, aimed her gun and fired; the bullet failed to discharge. Harvey Milk, the pioneering gay San Francisco city supervisor, was killed in 1978. President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981; the bullet shattered a rib and punctured a lung. For much of the twentieth century, the right to vote was, for African Americans, no right at all. Lynchings were common. Freedom Riders were brutally beaten across the American South. Police had to escort young African American children into schools as jeering crowds shouted racial epithets and threatened to attack. Violence broke out at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Urban riots ripped across the country. Crime was rising. The United States launched an illegal, secret bombing campaign in Cambodia. National Guard members fired on and killed student protesters at Kent State. Richard Nixon rode a backlash to the civil rights movement into the White House, launched

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 1551.70 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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