The power of calm writing in a frantic world

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I chose to spend five weeks writing about politics leading up the election, in a collection of posts I called “The Rationalist Papers.” The posts succeeded in their goals. Now that the stress and excitement of the election is (mostly) behind us, I’ll take you inside what happened and why it worked — and what … Continued

How the Fairness Doctrine should apply to social networks

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Simply put: social networks like Facebook are contributing to the polarization of American politics. The solution is not to break them up. The solution is to require them to expose members to a diversity of viewpoints. Why is America so divided? Why, even now, are there partisans so desperately afraid of Biden’s election that they … Continued

Trademarks in books and other prose: how to mark and when to claim them

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Trademarks confuse writers. Here are some tips on how to address trademarks in prose — and whether you ought to protect your own special names for things with them. Start with this: I’m not a lawyer. I hope you find this helpful — it’s based on decades of experience as a writer — but if … Continued

Why every edit I do is a “close read”

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Sometimes people request that I do a “light edit” on their document, book chapter, or book. “Just give it a read and let me know what it needs,” they say. I can’t actually do that. I only know how to do a close read. How I do a developmental edit There is a switch in … Continued

Don’t capitalize Random Crap

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Even if you feel a need to make your favorite magic words more important, don’t capitalize them in running text. It makes prose look uneven — and makes you look like an eighteenth-century pamphleteer. Do you write to impress? I edit a lot of prose intended for that purpose — including “thought leadership” blogs, business … Continued

The truth about polls in 2020

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The polls predicted a Biden landslide, as well as Democratic takeover of the Senate majority. Neither happened. Let’s look at why polls may be having problems with prediction right now. Where the polls were way off According to estimates by fivethirtyeight.com, an aggregation of polls indicated that Biden would get 51.8% of the final vote … Continued

How to cite research that isn’t crappy

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If you’re writing, you’ll want to cite published research that you didn’t do yourself. Here’s how to find research worth citing — and avoid citing crap research. Think of me as your mom, saying “Don’t put that research in your document. Do you have any idea where’s it been?” Finding research to cite How do … Continued

Resignation letter from Facebook engineer Ashok Chandwaney undermines the company’s rationalizations

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When it comes to hate, does Facebook believe in what it says it does? According to engineer Ashok Chandwaney, not even close. The Washington Post published the departing employee’s resignation letter, which had been posted on Facebook’s internal message board. Let’s take a close look at the accusations. Analyzing Chandwaney’s resignation letter The resignation letter … Continued