Monday, April 6, 2015

Gobbledygook (7)

Pat Buchanan (pictured) is astute enough to spot gobbledygook, and combative enough to call people on it.

For example, in an article about high school admissions policy, Mr. Buchanan quotes Jeremy Shughart, admissions director at the merit-based Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Fairfax County, Virginia):

“Says Shughart, ‘The committee is looking at a variety of admissions components and making recommendations for possible adjustments to future admissions cycles. … (We) will continue to work on increasing diversity at TJHSST and will continue to pursue outreach efforts to ensure talented underrepresented populations of students with a passion for math and science consider, apply to, and attend… Fairfax County Public Schools believes in the value of diversity.’ ”

Then Mr. Buchanan calls him on his gobbledygook:

“That is bureaucratic gobbledygook for saying they are going to start looking closer at the race and ethnicity of student applicants and begin using this criteria to bring in some — and to reject others.
“Race discrimination, against Asians, is coming to Fairfax County.”

The Takeaway: If you want to win debates and persuade people, strictly avoid gobbledygook – unless all your readers and listeners are stupid. Astute readers and listeners may call you on your gobbledygook. Then you are worse off than before: (1) you’ve made a weak point, and (2) your resort to gobbledygook demonstrates that you knew it was weak – otherwise, you would have stated it clearly and boldly.

You probably noticed that “this criteria” is ungrammatical.

See disclaimer.

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