My Academic Pretension


I want to be a computational social scientist. Not all aspects of my work are subject to simplification. In some cases, the right mathematical or computational abstraction expresses an idea perfectly. It’s almost magical. And, some branches of knowledge really are unreachable without abstraction. That is why we painstakingly learn to think with and manipulate these abstractions. It’s not (always) fun. But, it is the price of admission.

In formal academia, writing papers and submitting them to journals is also part of being a scientist (TM).[1] These papers are constraining in many ways, mostly because of how the journals work. Sometimes, constraints are liberating. But, I’ve started to question one particular constraint — the academic style of writing. What happened? When I finished my previous ‘final’ draft proposal, I sent it to my father. A few days later, he told me he couldn’t read it. It was “above his head.” This made me proud.