academic writing can be dull

Most academics find getting the initial ideas the most enjoyable part of research, and conducting the actual research is almost as fun. But few enjoy the writing, and it shows. To call academic writing dull is giving it too much credit. Yet to many, dull writing is a badge of honor. To write with flair signals that you don’t take your work seriously and readers shouldn’t either.

Richard H. Thaler, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics (Norton, 2015), p. 37.

Economist Richard Thaler (born 1945) writes with flair and teaches at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He has written columns for the New York Times and a number of books on behavioral economics including, in addition to this one, Quasi-rational Economics (Russell Sage, 1994) and The Winner’s Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life (Princeton University Press, 1992).

At the end of the first chapter of this book (on p.11), Professor Thaler advises “[S]top reading when it is no longer fun. To do otherwise, well, that would be just misbehaving.” I have not yet finished, but have enjoyed every page so will continue reading.

Comments are closed.