Gossip is as old as humanity itself. However, it turns out that gossip may not only harm others but also distort our perception of reality. Plus, our brains might not be fit enough to process too much of it.

Check out: The Human Brain Is Too Weak for Gossip






  • pernicious – ruinous; injurious; hurtful
  • familiars – a familiar friend or associate
  • dissuade – to deter by advice or persuasion; persuade not to do something (often followed by from  )
  • default – a selection made usually automatically or without active consideration due to lack of a viable alternative
  • overhear –  to hear (speech or a speaker) without the speaker’s intention or knowledge
  • subsequent – occurring or coming later or after
  • calamitous – disastrous


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What did Shakespeare say about gossip?
  • What is the definition of gossip and what do world’s predominant philosophies and religions think about it?
  • What is our brain’s default mode when it comes to analyzing new information?
  • What is the author’s story of his recollections of Challenger’s explosion supposed to illustrate?
  • What is the confirmation bias?


Practice makes perfect


Fill in the blank spaces with the words in bold.

talebearer   –   dissuaded   –   stretch   –   evaluative   –   prominent

Gossip is ________ talk among familiars about a third party who is not present. Surely it is a bit of ________ to characterize gossip as “evil.” Yet a number of the world’s most ________ religions and philosophies explicitly have ________ their adherents from engaging in the activity — sometimes even characterizing it as sinful. In Leviticus, one finds, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a ________ among thy people.”


Put the verbs in brackets in the correct forms and tenses.

I recently ________ (tell) a class about my vivid recollection of the day the Space Shuttle Challenger ________ (explode). I vividly remember my elementary school gym teacher gently ________ (break) the news to my fellow six-year-old classmates and me. After I ________ (recount) this story, one student commented that I ________ (look) rather old for my age. It turns out that the Challenger ________ (explode) in 1986 when I was twelve years old and in middle school. (It took a bit of Googling to convince me that my memory was mistaken.) You could just as easily “remember” something you overheard from the office’s arch-gossiper as ________ (come) from a truly credible source.


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