An old tradition of scientific writing

Most “popular” writing in science simplifies concepts (usually trivializing them as well, if unintentionally) in the belief, often false, that understanding will thereby be enhanced. Perhaps, sometimes—but for me, the essay is then not worth writing. I will, of course, clarify language, mainly to remove the jargon that does impede public access. But I will not make concepts either more simple or more unambiguous than nature’s own complexity dictates. I intend my essays for professionals and lay readers alike—an old tradition, by the way, in scientific writing from Galileo to Darwin, though effectively lost today. I would not write these essays any differently if I intended them for my immediate colleagues alone. Thus, while I hope that you will appreciate my respect, our bargain may require from you more than the usual item of American journalism demands. [xiii-xiv]

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