Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A note on academic writing, something about humor, and Poe's Law

This, from an essay about the use of humor in social work:
"Individual and particular ontological, epistemic perspectives and interpretations of the immediate and broader social world invariably have an impact on and culminate in the humour moment."

Now, I'm not saying that you have be funny in order to write about humour. (I think you should probably slip in some jokes, though, because you can totally get away with it.) But I am saying that using 20 big words when 5 little ones will do the job is the most egregiously stupid thing that you'll ever take away from a university education. Because what does that sentence say? It says 'funny is relative'.

Far be it from me to mock someone who's trying so hard to sound smart, if only because we're all trained and expected to write in this way. (And I've left out the author's name for that reason. He or she could be anyone; he or she is anyone.) But, holy shit, this is a text book example of Poe's Law - just pluck the sentence out of context and you can't tell whether this is actual academic writing or something that's intended to mock academic writing. And this is a bad thing. A very, very bad thing.

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