Nothing but.

Commentators are picking up on the catchiest part of Paul Romer's crusade against confusing language at the World Bank: his avowal that "I will not clear [a] final report if the frequency of ‘and’ exceeds 2.6 per cent."

Taken in isolation this paints Romer, the bank's Chief Economist, as pernickety - a detail nut. But really his crusade is in the name of truth. He sees that clear writing is "a commitment to integrity".

This idea is best explained from the other direction: confusing language, jargon, wooly thinking and serpentine sentences all obscure the truth. When business, or government, or our children's schools, or our doctors speak or write to us in ways that are unclear this suggests one of two things.

1. Their thinking is not clear.

2. Their thinking is clear but we might not like it, so it needs to be obscured.

The aim of all worthwhile businesses must be to think straight and then write straight.


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