Hi! 👋 I’m Jessa.

I blog daily about life, work, and the future.

“Highfalutin gobbledygook”

Written in


Smartphones weren’t as available before as ubiquitous as they are now. So to access and get copies of prints from the web, I went to an internet shop, accessed the web, and printed the web pages on bond papers which was costly at the time. But my grade school self never stopped at that because I wanted to be good at writing. I wanted to write and write (and now you see why where my drive to blog daily comes from).

I learned to dream deeply, so my choices led me to the kind of work I wanted to put myself in. And part of the work I do now is to write about the research we’ve been doing and aim to publish them in scientific journals like these. This means that I have to learn how to do academic writing, which is different than writing this blog post.

In high school, I was taught to write in the third person when writing scientific papers. And to sound scientific, I should speak about jargon the general audience most likely wouldn’t understand. But I started to turn my back on it when my learning resources became global.

Through a combination of access to mobile devices and the internet, I stumbled upon Coursera in 2017, which led me to seek the Writing in the Sciences course by Dr. Kristin Sainani of Stanford. And because I did not have much money to pay for the certificate, I enrolled in an audit course. Still, the learning was rich, which helped me the way I write today. 

I learned that writing in the sciences aims to be understood and not obfuscate and evade responsibility (which I learned repetitively early in school). And based on a discussion on Mastering Style: The Learning and Teaching of Writingbad writing is a deliberate choice.

From the discussion:

  • Bureaucrats insist on gibberish to evade responsibility.
  • Revenge of the nerds.
  • Pseudo-intellectuals try to bamboozle their readers with highfalutin gobbledygook.

Steven Pinker suggests a better theory on writing, and from his discussion:

  • Speech is instinctive
  • Writing is (and always has been) hard
  • Readers are unknown, invisible, inscrutable
    • exist only in our imaginations
    • can’t react, break in, ask for clarification
  • Writing is an act of pretense
  • Writing is an act of craftsmanship

I still have a long way to go to improve my writing. But I’m sure I’m way better than I used to be.

If you want to learn more about how to write in the sciences, here’s an online resource by Dr. Kristin Sainani of Stanford.

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