Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s 10 Step Guide to Clearer Thinking Through Essay Writing

Clearly state your premise. Know your values. Think with voice recorder to remember rapid thoughts. Imagine your audience (rehearse for live discussions). Read great essays (the spectator papers, edgar poe essays, emerson, fowler). Know what your words mean (what is racism, altruism, democracy, love, hate, etc)(avoid use of words that are traps of prejudiced group assumptions). Read draft as through other folks eyes. Use night thinking — -when you wake up listen to your thoughts…argue against your positions as if you are adversary. Recast sentences to use words most effectively — -reader/listener should not have to figure out what you mean (they will often get it wrong)…beware misunderstandings due to structural weakness of the language itself, e g, pronouns with unclear referent. Say twice what might need clear emphasis (what is a zipper? answer, not buttons) — -state logic from more than one direction (avoid vector error, i e, assuming others start from same position you do…ask yourself constantly what you are assuming, and if you can imagine other perspective). Analyze, analyze,analyze. Do not be obsessed with convincing — -simply offer your present opinion…science is humble. Do not try to fit a procrustean bed of length of essay. Brevity is king.

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