Tone Down Language? Part II

This is a three part series. First, I wrote this:

Block, Walter. 2019. “I’m an ‘Austrian’ Economist: What Does It Mean?” March 7;

Second, D upbraided me for using in effect ostentatious, pretentious, pompous language, which few people could understand. Here was my reply to him: Should I Tone Down My Language?

Now, third, I received quite a few letters in response, all supporting my original decision. Here are a few of them:

Letter 1

From: P

Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2019 11:17 AM

To: walter block

Subject: Re: Don’t tone down your language

Dear Dr. Block,

In reference to the suggestion at the LRC blog that you tone down your use of technical terms, I write to encourage you to make your articles even more erudite.

I am saddened that an MBA in finances has trouble understanding the list of terms noted in the blog post. I have a BA from Hillsdale college with a major in political science (not economics or finance) and I understand the majority of those terms.

One of the reasons I understand most of the terms is because whenever I read a word I don’t understand, I look it up. The same goes for a concept or theory.

Education at all levels has devolved enough and it is up to those such as yourself to make sure it does not devolve even further. While we should always tolerate, patiently encourage and help those who are less educated, the proper direction is helping them climb up, not having you climb down.

Best regards, P

Letter 2

From: C

Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2019 7:43 AM

To: Walter Block

Subject: Should I Tone Down My Language?

Dr. Block,

In my lowly opinion, I believe it is important for you to keep your informative, scholarly, and substantive language in the arena and marketplaces of serious students of liberty and free markets. If you were giving a course in economics for non-economic majoring students, a lesser approach may suffice get the job done, as long the laymen course did not have a “dumbing down” effect on your students.

I remember reading The Revolution: A Manifesto around 2009, during my undergraduate years, and marking certain words I was not familiar with. Ten years later I can look back and wonder how I did not know the words- I was a fledgling student of liberty and learning the vernacular. Dr. Paul’s language was not  planned obfuscation. His language usage was of someone simply more learned than mine at the time, he being a well studied man of some years of wisdom and knowledge.

On the other hand, I can understand the value of having a mass- practical- impact.

Dr. Block, it is my understanding you have described yourself as “a devout atheist. A very devout one.”  I would still highly encourage you to read this short piece titled “On Writing” by Dr. Jay Adams, as it relates to writing, as you may find it practical and useful concerning the matter of communicative language at hand.

On Writing

I hope the best for you Doc.  C

Letter 3

—–Original Message—–

From: E

Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:56 PM


Subject: In defense of your language

Dr. Block,

I just read the post on about being asked to tone down your language. I disagree. I say keep up the language. You see, I have a B.B.A. In Economics, and I think you should always use this type of language. It makes us better. I don’t have a fancy job. I sell office products for a local company. I think you would be doing a disservice to all your readers by dumbing down your language. In fact, step it up a notch. I enjoy learning new words. Dumbing the language down because the guy with an MBA doesn’t like it, would be like taking a lighter stance on the borders because Hoppe thinks you can’t reach enough people about your position. Would you really adjust your position on borders because Hoppe said so?

Again, please do us a solid and do NOT dumb it down. I am still playing catch up after having everything dumbed down in the public school system.

Best, E

Letter 4

From: S
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 3:34 PM
Subject: Please don’t dumb it down!

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ‘Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” (Mark Twain)

Granted, it might be a stretch to say that words such as “praxeological” and “apodictic” are electrifying, but if they are the right words for your purposes, please continue using them. I’ve got the whole rest of the Internet if I get a hankering to slurp on chunk-free verbal gruel.

I want my doctor to use correct medical terminology to explain why I’m wheezing, and my mechanic to use proper automotive terms to explain why my car is doing the same. This is how I learn.

As a layman, my economics education has been anything but systematic, and is far from complete. I depend on the writings of actual economists to help remedy that. I appreciate it when they use words that are standard in the profession. If I don’t know them, it adds to my store of knowledge to learn them. And if I do know them, it makes me feel smart!

Sincerely, S


1:59 am on July 18, 2019