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Lack of “originality” is a feature here, not a bug

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on are updated regularly over the years (see updates page).

I get a few refund requests from book customers with complaints that go something like this:

“None of this is new. I can get all of this info somewhere else.”

Well, that’s the funny thing about reporting and science writing: the point of the job is to describe and explain “facts,” to reflect an expert consensus that by definition has already been published. My books are deliberately based on citations to scientific literature and expert opinions. 😉 If I start delivering “originality,” I’m venturing into the Land of Pet Theories!

Now, to be clear, I do occasionally go there. I am not above speculating and expressing my own opinion. But I keep a lid on it, and I always make sure it’s clear that I’m speculating or opining.

There are a lot of original ways to explain and present information, of course. One good analogy can go a long way to making a well-established fact seem fresh as a daisy. But that’s not the kind of originality these people are craving.

“Originality” — in the sense of conveying information that isn’t available anywhere else — is not actually the goal of good science writing.

Ironically, my next post is all about my opinions (sort of)…

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