CRITICAL LINKING: December 16, 2011

Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.


“Readers should apply the same skepticism to the claims of Freakonomics as they would to the much-derided conventional wisdom. We encourage them to revisit these modern-day classics with a skeptical and inquiring mind. And we hope that future works in the pop-statistics genre will continue to impart a sense of the fun and importance of statistical reasoning, while more clearly recognizing the uncertainty and complexity inherent in scientific study of the world.”

The kind of bloodless, damning takedown of Freakonomics that only academia can perform.


“But even in informational writing, the notion that readers seek economy and have no patience for verbal detail doesn’t always hold water. The average Wikipedia entry is 590 words. The average Encyclopedia Americana entry from two decades ago is 556 words.”

People keep trying to make a connection between the internet and long-form writing. And they keep failing.


“According to modern-day grammar books, “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (e.g., I saw someone, but I don’t think they saw me) is incorrect, since a plural pronoun cannot describe a singular referent.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged that modern-day grammar books can go jump a stump.


“I myself have much to be grateful for this season, and though I’ve never met him, I’m quite certain that Mr. Manjoo does as well, starting with the fine woman he’s married to, who drags him from time to time to brick and mortar bookstores.”

Russo v. Manjoo gets arch.

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