Why Good Writing Matters

January 9, 2013 at 10:56 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 119 Comments
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A hand about to write

Years ago now, I recall a senior scientist who’d read a piece of my work saying doubtfully, ‘It’s very well-written. Very literary.’ The implication was clear: ‘But is it good science?’

With hindsight, I can agree: that particular effort wasn’t ace. I can’t even remember its title, and the obscurity’s well-deserved. What did stick was my surprise that my colleague (undoubtedly a good scientist) saw good science and good writing as not just independent, but even perhaps opposed, since science is all about precision and language is irretrievably vague.

Years later, I still have a problem with this. Continue Reading Why Good Writing Matters…

Academic careers: survival of the fittest?

December 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Disability and a scientific career

And yes, I do mean physically fit, not fit as in RateMyProfessors’ hotness scale.

For a profession which involves so much sitting in meetings and staring at computer screens, academics are an amazingly fit and healthy bunch. I have figures from the UK which make the case. Take a look. Continue Reading Academic careers: survival of the fittest?…

Have you read The Swerve?

September 20, 2012 at 11:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Not directly neuro-relevant, but I’m taking a broad-church approach here, if that isn’t too provocative a metaphor. I’ve just finished reading Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve - really interesting history of ideas and a great read! It’s about a lost text by a controversial Roman writer, Lucretius, which was almost lost for ever, but amazingly survived to help ignite the Renaissance and the scientific revolution. Greenblatt’s description of the death of the mathematical genius Hypatia made my skin crawl, and he writes beautifully about the text, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), showing how its ideas are key to the ways physical scientists now think about the world. I was disappointed to finish it because there wasn’t any more. Does anyone know of other, similar books on the history of ideas?

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