JS Tip 275: The Gobbledygook Keeps Coming

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

** From the Writing Workshops: The Gobbledygook Keeps Coming

We were going to move to a different subject this week, but the examples keep coming.

They’re like the brooms in Mickey Mouse’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. We’ll share two more examples of gobbledygook. We’ll also share an example of beautifully written academic writing.

The Two Examples of Gobbledygook

Example Uno. The friend of a list member received an award for dissertation research. A member of the award committee wrote this: The modern documentary tradition transforms spaces into places and people into identities. Modernity is synonymous with this event and is unthinkable without it, but the violence is even more ancient in its cult of group and personal identities and the documentary functions of writing. The modern documentary tradition itself, however, is a tremendously important event, which [the writer’s] dissertation analyzes in terms of the tradition’s contemporary technocracy and devices in establishing and reinforcing “real” borders, ramping up forces of truly apocalyptic governance, power, and greed that ancient tribal identities and patriarchs could only have wished for.

It keeps going for another 169 words (in the same paragraph). We have no idea it says. No idea. Example Dos. Another list member gave us this example: Skepticism is necessary when assessing outlandish claims and to me, seems to be a budding of the notion of making an inference to the best explanation, and in the process rejecting explanations or instances that seem out of the ordinary or nonsensical. This is a normative process to identify the likelihood [of] an explanation based on a list of “virtues” or guidelines: explanatoriness, depth of explanation, fallibility, modesty and conservativeness.

Explanatoriness? Explanatoriness?

And an Example of Beautifully Written Academic Writing

The title of the paper is “Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?”

And the abstract states, “Probably not.”

That’s it. “Probably not.”

Clear. Simple. To the point. Easy to understand. Refreshing.

We love this stuff.

Next week, we’ll talk about something else.

** Recent Tips

JS Tip 274: Your Response to the Gobbledygook
JS Tip 273: Examining Real-world Gobbledygook
JS Tip 272: The Rare Appropriate Passive Voice
JS Tip 271: Recognizing Passive Voice
JS Tip 270: The Power of an Apology


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