Letters: Terrence Howard's Depth

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You commented on our remembrance of Studs Terkel, corrected our recollection of polling history and even rebuked us for an interview with actor, singer and producer Terrence Howard.


Time now for your letters.

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SIMON: First, a correction. Many of you wrote in to point out an error in Alison Stewart's interview on the history of polling with our math guy, Keith Devlin. As Howard Leichter(ph) of McMinnville, Oregon, explains, Keith confused two election polling failures. He stated that the pollsters got it wrong in 1948 by predicting that Thomas Dewey would defeat Harry Truman because they surveyed only people with telephones, thereby skewing their sample. That is, in fact, what happened in the infamous 1936 Literary Digest survey, where the pollsters incorrectly forecast Landon beating FDR. The problem in 1948 was that Dewey was so far ahead, they stopped polling one week before the election. In that week, sentiment shifted dramatically to Truman. To the pollsters of both 1936 and 1948, we stand corrected.

Many of you also commented on our remembrance of Studs Terkel, the legendary oral historian, author, broadcaster, and Chicago icon. Doug McCoy(ph) of Yuba City, California, wrote: Thank you for the piece on Studs Terkel, but especially thank you for the reading of "Chicago." I'm a former resident of the Second City, now relocated to Northern California. I miss Chicago. And hearing our beloved Studs Terkel read that poem brought me to tears.

Our interview three weeks ago with the actor, singer and producer Terrence Howard brought in a heavy response. Many of you cited Mr. Howard's depth of thought and feeling.

Mr. TERRENCE HOWARD (Actor; Singer): I mean, when I first started acting, I thought it was about the best liar. I thought the best liar was the best actor. But it's the best truth-teller. To find the truth on those pages of black and white and to believe in it so much, it has to be honest. It has to be truthful.

SIMON: Georgelyn Mitchell(ph) of Detroit writes: I have seen some of Mr. Howard's movies, but I never thought of him as a very deep thinker. I loved the fact that he differentiates between what is important in life when he said that his work is from 9 to 5. Many actors and actresses forget that and spend more time acting than being there for the family.

Mr. Howard's statements on all things scientific, a particular interest of his life, though, drew a couple of rebukes. Jonathan Culic(ph), who wrote to us from Tbilisi - that's in the nation of Georgia, not the state - said, quote, Terrence Howard is a good actor and speaks movingly about his family, but Scott Simon does neither Howard nor your audience any favors by indulging his metaphysical gibberish about soap bubbles masquerading as science. Surface tension may not be as exciting as the finitude of the universe, but bubbles don't care.

Well, we welcome your comments whether you leave them on our blog at npr.org/soapbox, or in the comments section with each of our stories, or in letters like these. Go to our Web site, npr.org, click on "Contact Us," and please tell us where you live and how to say your name.

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