This is a blog post about a news website article about a scientific paper

At the start of this post, I link to the site where I saw the news website article, and selectively quote a piece of it:

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of “scare quotes” to ensure that it’s clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research “challenges”.

If the research is about a potential cure, or a solution to a problem, this paragraph will describe how it will raise hopes for a group of sufferers or victims.

In this sentence, I raise several overlapping criticisms, ostensibly of the article, but actually of a superficially-similar article that the journalist did not in fact write, ranging from accusations of basic misunderstanding to having completely misrepresented the research process. In the middle of this paragraph, I critique the way in which the journalist has used emotional manipulation to add spice to their article, I attempt to morally blackmail the journalist with the plight of the group of sufferers and victims, which I implicitly assume actually exist, and I make an inflammatory rhetorical demand of the journalist in retaliation, seemingly unaware that this really isn’t likely to help. Here at the end of the paragraph, I make a series of contrived links to previous posts on my blog, in the vain hope of directing traffic to them and making it look like I have a coherent subject to talk about.

Here I realise my sentences are far too long. Fragments better.

And shorter paragraphs.


At this point I insert in a pretty but entirely arbitrary image I found on Flickr by searching for a word or phrase from the subject and picking something eye-catching, because it makes my blog look nicer than if it was just a relentless stream of text.

Arbitrary Symmetry #5
(cc) Syntopia on Flickr

Here I make a misrepresentation of my own point, if in fact it turns out I have one, and put a break in to spare my blog’s home page from being overwhelmed by what is manifestly too long a piece of writing for the genre.

In this sentence, I complain about not being able to get at the actual scientific paper, which renders most of my criticisms of the research pretty much moot until it comes out. I then follow on with a few vague and entirely unsubstantiated ad hominem insinuations about the authors of the scientific paper and their competence to practice science.

Here I accuse the authors of the scientific paper of irresponsibility for putting out a press release about their research, being sure to keep the moral high ground by ignoring the fact that I’d do the same myself like a shot if my own research was remotely newsworthy.

In this paragraph, I follow that piece of hypocrisy with another by criticising the journalist for merely recycling the press release without having done their homework, helpfully avoiding mention that they did at least contact one other scientist about it, which is one more than I have. I am also careful not to mention the fact that I am probably paid more than the journalist.

This paragraph makes a fairly desperate and transparent attempt to make me look like an Important Person by making links to much more prominent bloggers who would probably have something more sensible to say about the topic, but haven’t yet. It then makes several spurious links to high-traffic news aggregator sites in the forlorn hope of generating an unprecedented traffic surge to this blog, without having even checked whether any of them has covered it already. This sentence has negligently been left in three places in this blog post.

This paragraph takes a more realistic view of its own likely readership, and makes links to people who blog who actually know me, including a running in-joke about biscuits that nobody else will understand, in the less-desperate hope that these people at least might link back, or at least mention it to me next time we meet.

Here, I raise the reader’s hopes that I may have done, or be about to do, some actual research – or at least desk research – which will add to the general understanding of the topic, only to dash those hopes before the sentence has even finished, making excuses on grounds of lack of time. Ignoring once again that the hapless journalist I’ve been ranting about all the way through here was almost certainly on a tighter deadline than me.

This sentence notes the great debt that this blog post and the original news website article owe to to David Moser’s masterpiece of self-referential writing, This Is The Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself. This is almost the title of that story, which is not found several times in the story itself. This is not quite the title of this blog post about a news website article about a scientific paper, which occurs only once in the blog post itself, and is considerably more clumsy as a literary device.

This paragraph starts by noting that Moser’s great work degenerates in to apology, but fails to follow the good example set, on the grounds that apologies and blog posts are not noted for being highly correlated, thus making a very minor self-deprecatory point. This sentence recognises the low amusement value and intellectual craft of this blog post when compared to This Is The Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself, and uses this as an example of how literary standards have fallen over time, thus making a more substantial self-deprecatory point.  This sentence  This final sentence thinks that this blog post has got badly sidetracked in to talking about This Is The Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself when the topic of this blog post is a news website article about a scientific paper.

This sentence makes a very convoluted and contrived link between my favourite hobby horse topic and the matter at hand, using a vivid image of Billy, the mother-strangling twelve-year-old from This Is The Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself. This sentence redescribes Billy’s mother’s bulging eyes and protruding tongue and makes reference to the unpleasant choking and gagging noises she made. This sentence makes a frankly offensive connection between this ghastly image and the news website article’s author, and journalists in general. This sentence makes a throwaway comment about murder which could be interpreted as a threat and would never be allowed to appear so casually in the course of professional journalism, at least not if the subs were awake. This sentence expresses sadness that no sub-editor will cast their eye over it, mixed with relief of being free of what is evidently a painful process for journalists, but noting with trepidation that any errors it commits may be jumped on with gusto in the comments.

This sentence was started but not. This sentence was started, abandoned briefly, reworked, then cut-and-pasted in to a different part of the blog post, where it now sits rather awkwardly. This sentence has negligently been left in three places in this blog post. This paragraph ends by attempting to draw a line under such textual silliness, pausing only to note that at least some of the previous self-referential sentences are incorrect about themselves.

This sentence recalls, as Proust with his madeleines, the author’s original excitement and enthusiasm when he first encountered Russell’s Paradox in the course of thinking about self-referential statements. This sentence is wrong. This sentence includes a list of all sentences that do not include themselves. This sentence draws an incorrect inference from Gödel’s incompleteness theory about the nature of self-referential systems in general, and this discussion in particular, and in doing do manages to not only misunderstand but misname Gödel’s work. This sentence passes judgement on the preceeding sentences in the paragraph and finds them guilty of cheapness and irrelevance, but will be deleted before posting. This sentence notes that the previous paragraph’s attempt to draw a line under such textual silliness has failed rather miserably.

This nearly final sentence, put in bold for no good reason, is a strange self-referential composite of whinge, call to arms, self-aggrandisement and inflammatory overstatement of the main point of this blog post!

At the bottom of this blog post, I put in a statement saying that it’s copyright but licenced under a Creative Commons BY Licence, which serves more as a political signal to like-minded peers than as a practical piece of rights management, because, frankly, almost nobody is going to read this, let alone rip it off, and the only people who’d bother me by stealing it unattributed have much deeper pockets and better lawyers than I do.


Author: dougclow

Academic in the Institute of Educational Technology, the Open University, UK. Interested in technology-enhanced learning and learning analytics.

3 thoughts on “This is a blog post about a news website article about a scientific paper”

  1. This is the first comment on this post, which fails entirely to address any of the points made in the text, and has no real purpose other than to note its relative position at the head of the comment list. It’s also written by an obvious sockpuppet.

    Its sole merits are that it is neither abusive nor spammy.

    1. This is a gracious thank-you for the appreciation, with a supplementary expression of mild but at least partially feigned concern that I may have caused inadvertent incontinence.

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