Cross Words on Crosswords

Slate’s front page story today addresses the all-important cultural question, why Ron Rosenbaum thinks that crossword puzzles are stupid ?

Sure, it’s a brave, contrarian stance on a popular pastime, and normally I’d agree to disagree, but here’s the thing. Ignoring the fact that crosswords are hardly the intellectual scourge of modern times, they are actually good for people.

Here’s what Rosenbaum says:

What are some of the other defenses of the puzzle people? “It trains the mind.” No, sorry; it only trains the mind to think in a tragically limited and reductive fill-in-the boxes way. I’d say that instead it drains the mind. Drains it of creativity and imagination while fostering rat-in-a-maze skills.

Sorry, sir, but you’re wrong. It’s been widely reported that crosswords and other puzzles help stave off the mental deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the Alzheimer Society of Canada even offers crossword puzzles on its Web site to encourage readers to train their brains.

So, okay, having friends who brag about how they can do all the days of The New York Times crossword is a tad annoying. But it sure as heck doesn’t warrant putting down a hobby that helps seniors stay sharp.

Now, does anyone know a nine-letter word for condescending Slate writer?

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.