25 November 2013

Items to Share: 24 November

  • Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer - New York Times Doris Lessing: 'A successor to “commitment” is “raising consciousness.” This is double-edged. The people whose consciousness is being raised may be given information they most desperately lack and need, may be given moral support they need. But the process nearly always means that the pupil gets only the propaganda the instructor approves of. “Raising consciousness,” like “commitment,” like “political correctness,” is a continuation of that old bully, the party line.' 
  • Breaking Bad News | More Intelligent Life 'For decades, the way bad news was broken was, as one official British report put it, “deeply insensitive”. Now we do it better, thanks to the efforts of one American widow.'
  • Policy: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims : Nature News & Comment '[...] the immediate priority is to improve policy-makers' understanding of the imperfect nature of science. The essential skills are to be able to intelligently interrogate experts and advisers, and to understand the quality, limitations and biases of evidence. We term these interpretive scientific skills. [...] To this end, we suggest 20 concepts that should be part of the education of civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists — and anyone else who may have to interact with science or scientists.'
  • The evolving role of the Oxford English Dictionary - FT.com 'Lexicography, unlike journalism, is a field in which deadline extensions can occasionally be justified. James Murray (1837-1915), the indefatigable editor who oversaw much of the first edition, was originally commissioned to produce a four-volume work within a decade; after five years, he had got as far as the word “ant”. Similarly, the lexicographers toiling behind the neoclassical columns at the Oxford University Press, the dictionary’s home and publisher, have been forced gradually to extend their horizons. When work began on OED3 in the mid-1990s, it was meant to be complete by 2010. Today, they are roughly a third of the way through and Michael Proffitt, the new chief editor, estimates that the job won’t be finished for another 20 years.'

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