Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A word that should make our eyebrow hairs go boioioing

Like "veritable tsunami" and "much ink has been spilled," "raise a red flag" annoys the broccoli out of me. I hope to popularize "make your eyebrow hairs go boioioing" as an alternative cliché.

This article is downright tolerable, except for one thing:

So it didn't necessarily come as a surprise when I read that researchers have now proved that listening to your favorite melodies and harmonies can trigger the brain to release large amounts of dopamine.
"Proved"? Indeed not, and in fact the linked-to study doesn't claim to have proved anything; the closest it comes is "indicate." When another study comes along indicating that music doesn't stimulate the release of dopamine, that also won't be definitive proof.

In our work as manuscript editors, our eyebrow hairs should go boioioing when we come across claims of proof. We will usually not be competent to evaluate how good a study is, but we should question talk of proof. Many of the scholars whose work we play with will appreciate it and tone down the language.