Protesting a Lack of Precision
I would like to protest against the lack of precision in written language. It’s becoming more and more prevalent in our books. Unfortunately, it seems it’s also become more prevalent in our scientific journals, a trend which might have an impact on science.
The journal article to which I refer is a study indicating increased mortality on younger (<55) people drinking more than four cups of coffee a day.
While discussing this with my husband this morning, I asked, “What constitutes a ‘cup’ of coffee? Are we talking about the standard eight ounces, or are we talking about fourteen ounces or more?”
I imagine, though I could be wrong, a detail like this is important to a scientific study and, as a result, should be included somewhere in an article about the results of said study.
I can’t control what others write. But omissions like this cause me to evaluate my writing, to be sure I don’t omit important facts, causing my readers to wonder if I’ve researched my topic well.
A caveat: I did not read the original study done by the Mayo Clinic. However, the article I did read in The Guardian online, says, “There’s a huge variation in caffeine from cup to cup. Compare a three-shot monster coffee from a chain to a half-a-teaspoon weak cup of instant you make yourself; all this kind of detail isn’t picked up in this study.”