Steven Pinker on the Curse of Knowledge and Writing Better - Deepstash

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Steven Pinker on the Curse of Knowledge and Writing Better

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Professional Writing: The Curse of Knowledge

The Curse of Knowledge, suffered by many authors, is the inability to think like the less-informed layperson who is going to read the content.

  • Professional writing is filled with all kinds of ‘ese’, legalese, academese etc. which makes it unrelatable and unclear, co...

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A big vocabulary basket is like the only ‘tangible skill’ the writer has, and it never occurs to them that they should use simple words instead.

The writer should focus on clarity instead of impressing others with professional-sounding words that cloud any real understanding.

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Using examples or analogies is a powerful and necessary technique to make the common reader relate to abstract content. Analogies are also retained by the memory for a longer time than raw, professional content with big words.

Messy writing is also due to chunking, a menta...

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Sometimes writers invent confusing and bewildering terminology to explain plain and simple concepts. This is because their years of familiarity with such concepts makes them part of a bubble, in which they believe everyone would understand their vocabulary.

Example: Doc...

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  1. Do not use abstractions, and go for real, concrete nouns and everyday words.
  2. Assume that the reader knows less than you do and explain as you would to a newbie.
  3. Get someone to read your work and take feedback.
  4. Write down a draft and wait a while to come back and revie...

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