A fun Combat! blog experiment


Props to Sid for inspiring today’s fun experiment by surprising me with work this morning. Kombat! Klients: please call and ask for quick turnarounds on short notice, as I will do that shit and bill you richly. There is no Combat! blog today, because I am a professional writer who solves problems in exchange for money. Hire me, and I will meet your deadline even at the expense of my own projects. Anywhom, more than one of you sent me this article about what’s wrong with academic writing. I have a lot to say about it, but lately I’ve been trying to stay away from pieces that can be described as “here’s what I think about this article.” I’m already presumptuous to think people want my opinions on arbitrarily selected topics; to ask them to read primary-source documents seems narcissistic. But this once, we could all read the linked article today and talk about it tomorrow, and see how we like that. Maybe there could be a Combat! reading club, like a book club but where we all read. Until that day. Which is tomorrow—until tomorrow.

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  1. I read the source article as soon as you link to it, that way I can see how far your rhetoric moves me from my original interpretation. But you’re right, it makes you a prick. I would also participate in a book club. First book I propose is Why Nations Fail (http://whynationsfail.com/), because it’s an interesting romp through history and is adequately high-level that two readers could argue about its conclusions purely from their values. A more rigorous argument leaves less room for non-technical interpretation.

  2. Pinker’s article conflates writing an academic article with an academic person writing a popular piece. Most of the stuff Pinker complains about is actually useful to have in an academic article. It’s not beautiful or entertaining, but it’s useful. Academics should write an academic piece and then write a more popular piece based on it if they want to reach the latter audience.

    The biggest sin of academic writing is the pervasive use of the subjectless passive, especially in the sciences. It is a problem not because it sounds like shit, which it does, but because it fails to convey important information.

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