thelastpsychiatrist.com - Who Are Academics Writing For? (For Whom Are Academics Writing?) Adnotated.
Interesting study from Princeton psychologist Daniel Oppenheimer, called "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity : Problems With Using Long Words Needlessly." (I should mention I have not read, and can't find, an actual copy of this study.)
Took a selection of writing samples (grad school applications, sociology dissertations etc), and changed each of the words to more complex/longer synonyms. Then he gave these samples to 71 students and asked them to judge the intelligence of the authors. The more complex and flowery the language, the dumber the author was assumed to be.
Think about it...i———
- Here's the problem : "complex" "synonyms" aren't.
There's no such thing as synonymy in natural languages. The contrary view is strictly the purview of people who know very few words, and it arises because the meanings of each of the words one knows is a function of all the other words they know. So, for example, the meaning of the word "straw" in a mind possessed of the 500-1`000 words of basic English vocabulary is distinct, and distinguishable, from the meaning of the same word in a mind possessed of all of Shakespeare, such that "do not give dalliance too much the rein, the strongest oaths are straw to th' fire i' th' blood" is a familiar phrase. The moron may deem "synonymous" all sorts and manner of distinguishable construction, just like the moron has prior deemed "synonymous" two homonymous yet distinguishable types of straw. You wouldn't try and make a horse's bed with that sort of straw that's oaths, would you ? The horse might eat them!
Specialist language consists not of "complex" / "longer" "synonyms", but of more specifically defined terms. Those more specifically defined terms come with a cost : the user needs to take more and divers cares when deploying them.
Consider : "a military unit" given as such, in general, can be deployed in a conflict whenever needed, in principle. "A tank regiment" however can be deployed in any conflict whenever needed where the terrain is flat enough to permit their movement and fuel can be sourced to permit their movement and air superiority can be ensured to protect their movement. There's no real difference of either length (both strings are exactly 3 words and 15 characters) or "complexity" -- but there's significant difference in rules of engagement : before the general staff in charge of this conflict can deploy the second string, that general staff must make some determinations, as to flatness of terrain (so, is it a mountain ? is it a city ?), as to sourcing of fuel, as to air superiority. A general staff that fails to make these determinations is thereby negligent, which is probably going to be summarized as "that bunch of idiots" ; whereas in the first situation there's nothing to fail at, and therefore howsoever idiotic the general staff deploying "a military unit", its idiocy will likely escape detection.
Thus therefore : the more specialist language used, the more likely (on a purely statistical basis) for incorrect deployment to occur, each individual occurrence being counted as a failure, and taken out of the putative intelligence of the author. Like so ; or like so ; or like hundreds upon hundreds of other examples scattered everywhere about, because this is pretty much all I do all day long.
By taking text composed out of words worth between 0.0002 and 0.0009 man-hours' thought each, for an average of say 0.00028 and a total of 0.03, and replacing them with words that need 0.1 to 0.7 man-hours' thought each, for an average of 0.055 and a total of 7, you are doing the equivalent of dumping a truck chassis on a lawn mower engine. What do you think, will it go ? "Oh, so replacing chassis parts with larger / heavier '''equivalents''' makes the vehicle shittier ?!" Well done, sherlock! Not only is the .650 ton truck cabin NOT an equivalent chassis part to the little plastic cover going on top of your lawn mower, but it even requires specific hardpoints and connective screws and whatnot that the poor lawnmower didn't know it should've asked its mommy to pack in its lunch box. If I come to your house tonight, replace your boring wife's panties with my sluts' fare and the wife herself with the sluts herself, what'll we discover ? That you're impotent ?
So then, this study found that all trucks should go about with lawn mower plastic covers instead of cabins -- they'll be lighter that way ; and everyone's bedroom should contain naught besides boring missionary sex with an overweight woman who doesn't work out, wears jeans and owns no heels.
Congrats, you're retarded. But conversely : simple text deliberately written by an expert (which is to say, me) is directly and painfully evidently superior to simple text written by the common retard, such as the current wykeham professor of logic.
This does not mean that "complex text
would be better simplerwould benefit from simplification" ; it also doesn't mean "any yahoo can simply search/replace literal strings in natural language texts and end up with anything besides a heap of word salad they're responsible for". It was the act of replacing, and not the original content of the text, that produced the (correct) impression of idiocy.
Meanwhile I can write simple text, or complex text, and while they're both equally excellent they're nevertheless mutually irreplaceable ; whereas nobody at Princeton can write either complex or simple text, at all, and certainly nothing worth reading. Because it's not the words -- it's the authors, that's the simple conclusion here : everyone at Princeton is fucked in the head -- not merely too stupid to live, but somehow actually dumber than that. [↩]