NERD Ignorance Pride

Six Day. Gym opens late. Icky. Didn’t really understand that word till now. Inconvenience that is distressingly uncomfortable?

Anyway, ran across an article [Link] entitled “Scientific Papers Are Getting Less Readable.” Natters on about readability indices and word rarities that exceed college graduation levels. 

I can’t argue with the title, but in my experience, they have the problem backwards. It’s not a case of the words in the article being too rare for college graduates to read, it’s a case of college graduates being too ignorant.

I have been composing scientific manuscripts for over fifty years now. Almost all of that time I have also served on one or more journal’s unpaid staff as a reviewer/referee, depending on how they designate. Over that period I have seen a decrease in composition skills of potential authors. Over 0.9 of all returns and rejections I have issued over the years have been for poor composition and inadequate grammar. Inadequate vocabulary goes with this.

I will concede that the composition form of refereed literature is different from that of Archie comic books and Dick and Jane readers. It can, however, be easily learned, otherwise the thousands of people who have contributed articles to all these journals would not have. 

But today we seem to have some sort of a stupidity infestation. People seem unwilling to meet the composition standards of refereed journals. I have returned manuscripts as many as tree times with the authors steadfastly refusing to make their manuscript compliant AND readable before asking the editor to reject the article. This behavior is evidently common because no editor has failed to support me nor chide me for excessive rigor.

I have entertained the conjecture that some contemporary authors are lazy but that seems inconsistent with the effort to prepare manuscript. Admittedly, the process of making a manuscript proper and readable is nagging and onerous, but an unreadable article is a waste of all connected with it.

So I come to the conjecture that contemporary authors are unable to learn how to compose. 

I would be tempted to comment on the cause of this cancer but it is too nauseating to deal with at this time.