No Hedged Words

Weekly I/O#52

State your conjecture in a way that sounds like the laws of physics. Avoid mealy-mouthed allusions because ChatGPT can do all the hedged answers already. Solid and arbitrary statement sparks more comments and feedback.


This is something I'm working on myself. I always want to avoid arbitrary statements because of my intellectual insecurity and philosophical belief in skepticism. You can probably tell this by how many "can" and "might" I used in my past articles to hedge and avoid things being too absolute.

However, hedged words are usually not useful because they hedge the responsibility of being wrong. Mealy-mouthed allusions like "this might be true" and "there can be no right answer" essentially entail zero practical value. It rarely sparks feedback because there's nothing to support or against. What's worse, given all the embedded political correctness genes, large language models (LLMs) applications like ChatGPT are already too good at hedged statements.

In the episode Kunal Shah: Core Human Motivations [The Knowledge Project Ep. #141] (covered in WeeklyI/O#50), Kunal also mentioned he makes his statement on Twitter sound like the law of physics all the time. Even though those statements are just his conjecture, he thinks people should know this is Twitter, not an academic scientific journal. Therefore, not everything has to be strictly supported by legitimate evidence.

In the book It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences (covered in Write Better Sentences), the author also states similar things. The reader should understand your statement is a generalization and subject to debate—no disclaimers are required.

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