Note to FedEx: schoolyard taunts are a poor PR strategy

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On Sunday, the New York Times published a critique of the way that the shipper FedEx cut its federal tax bill to zero. Rather than defending itself, FedEx lashed out at the finances of the Times. While such tactics may be working for politicians, they’re no way for a public company to behave. Here’s the … Continued

Come at me, bro — what’s fair game on this blog

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This is not a politics blog, but politics is part of my subject matter. So here’s what I hope is a very clear statement of my principles. I write about anything associated with writing quality, analytical thinking, truth, and influence. These are “meta-analyses.” I’m generally writing about how people think and communicate, not whether those … Continued

The golden rule of rhetoric and 10 morally bankrupt ways we’re violating it

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Despite what you hear on cable news and see on your Facebook feed, shouting is not a reasonable substitute for logic. Once we forget how to think and communicate clearly, everything else is lost. Time to bone up on your rhetorical hygiene. Let’s start with what I’ll call “The Golden Rule of Rhetoric”: Don’t use … Continued

Say something controversial, and everything in your past is fair game

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James Damore, the guy Google just fired for his generalizations about gender, apparently said and did some sexist things in college. It disturbs me how everything in people’s pasts is now part of how we critique their current actions. And there’s a lesson in that for all of us. According to Gizmodo, Damore participated in … Continued

5 ways to use evidence to back up (or challenge) an argument

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Based on the material I’m reading and editing, a lot of people have forgotten how to use evidence in their writing. They make unsupported statements that the reader is just supposed to swallow whole. If you want to persuade me that your assessment is valid, your prediction is accurate, or your advice is effective, here are five ways … Continued