Recently, now at the podium posted a list of some blogs and the respective reading levels at which they are written, according to a Web-based readability test, which found that this blog, along with natp, is written at the “Genius” level, whatever that means.
The plurality of the blogs that natp surveyed scored at the junior-high level, followed by the high-school level.
This triggered a discussion of the merits of writing at a pre-college level. Most journalism schools teach reporters to write at such a level, because that’s where the readers are assumed to be.
Now, it makes sense for liberal reporters and bloggers to write at an intellectually non-taxing level. The embrace of their policy prescriptions is threatened by deep and critical thought.
But such is not the case for conservatives. Our policies are based on reason, not emotion and wishfulness. I fear that, by giving in to the pressure to dumb-down our writing, we perpetuate the unthinking embrace of the feel-good policies that undermine human prosperity, in the fullest sense of the term. If you’re passing out chocolate-chip cookies paid for with money you’ve plundered from others, you don’t need an argument. If you’re trying to convince people not to accept ill-gotten chocolate-chip cookies, you do. But your argument won’t help much if readers can’t understand, or even recognize, it. Writing that doesn’t challenge people intellectually, even a little, lulls readers into a less critical state of mind.
New York Times columnist David Brooks has observed that conservatives, much more so than liberals, can list a litany of scholars and thinkers whose works have shaped their views. The foundation of our movement is intellectual. It is vital to future conservative policy success that we nurture people’s ability to draw upon that intellectual tradition.