The Philosophy of IdeasInHat

Drawing (5)Academic gobblygook. Our site is shaped, in part, by the notion of academic gobblygook. What is academic gobblygook you ask? It is that puerile propensity to linguistically deliver one’s philosophical tendencies in an austere rather than capricious manner. In normal English, it is pretentious, overly abstract language, which is sometimes mixed with an incredibly annoying wall of jargon.

So, our site is shaped by academic gobblygook insofar as we ensure that our articles and lessons are utterly devoid of the following: overly abstract explanations, overly jargony descriptions, and abuses of “it,”, “is,”, and “this”. Now, if you haven’t had the joy of reading much academic literature, those abovementioned writing style tips may seem obvious, given how simple they are. However, according to Helen Sword’s research on 20,000 journal articles and books from disciplines like psychology, computer science, and philosophy, most academic writers seldom follow those above mentioned simple writing style tips.

In psychology, Helen had found that the use of overly-abstract language was the norm. For instance, “construct validity,”, “factor analysis,”, “psychological inventories,” are words frequently used in the psychology literature. And in addition, she found philosophy journals use “is,”, “it,” and, “this,” not only at a rate much higher than other disciplines but also as a means to cover up bad ideas and arguments: i.e., “It is an obvious conclusion, so we should agree with it”. – which conclusion, mate? Simple, clear writing is practiced far less than it should be.

We seek to write content for people who also hate academic gobblygook. We employ many of the lessons acquired from Steven Pinker’s “sense of style,”, Elen Sword’s “Stylish Academic Writing,” and, Thomas & Turner’s “Clear and Simple as Truth”. Which means, we use analogies, we use metaphors, and we use concrete language.

On top of that, we also believe academics take their subjects way, way, way too seriously.  Venture back to elementary school. Recall that the class clown was always punished: no humor in the classroom. Similarly, within high-school, the class clown is separated from the “academic” students.  And even furthermore, at university or college, the class clown is flat-out rejected from entry or constantly removed from class. Now, we understand that resources are limited, and so we ought to spend those limited resources on people that are willing to learn. However, we nevertheless believe that a willingness to learn need not be inextricably linked with academic try hard more. Therefore, we write our content with memes and jokes, all while maintaining an advanced level of philosophical discussion. We can learn without being too serious. Afterall, we are still nothing but stupid apes that cannot even manage to disagree with one another respectfully.