"The Nonsense of Style"

Came across a fantastic, insightful post about academic writing.

The problem with the likes of Steven Pinker and Helen Sword is that they like their own writing way too much.

Shots fired.

I certainly found Pinker’s book on writing to be absolutely insufferable.

Sure, when you’re a successful, well-read author, you can expect, well, people to read what you write. What if you are not? How can you get your ideas across to readers who don’t have the time for reading? Completely unaddressed. Yet this is the key writing issue of our time, as the tsunami of papers continues to grow.

But here’s the power pose of the post:

There is only one criterion that we should require of academic writing and that is the same requirement we should have of academic thinking. Scruples. Scrupulous writing will let the reader in on the uncertainty of knowledge, and messiness of the process of how knowledge is created

Scruples 1.

Check out the full post for even more insights and good advice.


  1. Of course, scruples alone may not be enough to survive contact with the buzzsaw of peer review. Which is exactly how non-scrupulous writing gets rewarded. ↩︎

Jim Bagrow
Jim Bagrow
Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics

My research interests include complex networks, computational social science, and data science.