Sounder Thinking Through Clearer Writing

Science  12 May 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3776, pp. 743-745
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3776.743


Bad scientific writing involves more than stylistic inelegance: it is often the outward and visible form of an inward confusion of thought. The scientific literature at its present standard distorts rather than forms the graduate student's view of scientific knowledge and thought, and corrupts his ability to write, to read, and to think.

Strong educational measures are needed to effect reform. I advocate a course on scientific writing as an essential feature in every scientist's training. Such a course delves deep into the philosophy and method of science if it deals with logic, precision, and clarity; on how these qualities can be achieved in writing; and on how such achievement strengthens the corresponding faculties in thinking.