Editing for Logic

Negative Sports Media

Professional sports are known as great entertainment, but some people only find and report the negative news that they hear or see. News reporters, for example the reporters of newspapers and news shows, don’t always write about what happens on the field, but rather find aspects of what professional players do wrong off of the field.

The first sentence sets up a false contradiction. There’s nothing contradictory about:
A: Sports are great entertainment
B: Reporters go negative
As a consequence, readers don’t know what to make of the very first sentence, and the author loses most of her credibility.

A truer contradiction would be:
A: Sports are thrilling for the physical feats on display in athletic competition.
B: However, many reporters ignore the spectacle on the field and concentrate only on reporting negative off-the-field activities.

This is exactly the content of the second sentence, a clear demonstration that the first sentence was wasteful and confusing.

Exercise: Rewrite the first paragraph in a Reply below, in one sentence or two.

  • Identify your comment as “Negative Sports Media.”

Learning in Our Sleep

Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain. The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.

The sentences Fail For Grammar (FFG) twice for pronoun disagreement (a person/their brain) (someone/their performance/they). But besides that they’re also quite wordy and get the essay off to a very slow start.

It says: Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain.
Which means: Sleep improves the brain’s efficiency.

It says: The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.
Which means: Sleeping longer helps us learn and perform better on exams.

Exercise: Rewrite the first paragraph in a Reply below, in two sentences (or one if you can manage it). Consider using a brief, simple illustration. The tone is informational but light.

  • Identify your comment as “Hooray Sleep.”

Failing Schools

The replacement of large failing public schools with smaller “specialized” schools will successfully guide underprivileged students in the right direction to become successful. Many disadvantaged students in areas like New York City are forced to attend large high schools with extremely low graduation rates. These high schools are overcrowded with students and understaffed with teachers. Classrooms are filled above capacity and the “schools are simply under managed.” These inner city areas consist of countless students living in poverty and receiving an education without the proper motivation and techniques needed to succeed.

The sentences introduce plenty of material but are wordy and repetitious.

Fat: The replacement of large failing public schools with smaller “specialized” schools will successfully guide underprivileged students in the right direction to become successful
Lean: Underprivileged students are more likely to succeed when large failing public schools are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools.

Fat: Many disadvantaged students in areas like New York City are forced to attend large high schools with extremely low graduation rates.
Lean (combine with 1st sentence): Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when large failing public schools are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools.

Fat:These high schools are overcrowded with students and understaffed with teachers.
Lean: (Combine 1st 3 sentences): Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools.

Fat: Classrooms are filled above capacity and the “schools are simply under managed.”
Lean (combine with 1, 2, 3): Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed, badly managed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools, says Bill Moyers.

Fat: These inner city areas consist of countless students living in poverty and receiving an education without the proper motivation and techniques needed to succeed.
Lean: Inner-city students already living in poverty deserve better than failing schools that don’t motivate them or teach them to succeed.

Final Product: 

Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed, badly managed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools, says Bill Moyers. Inner-city students already living in poverty deserve better than failing schools that don’t motivate them or teach them to succeed.

Exercise: Expand the final two-sentence version back out to three or four sentences, adding a hook, a brief illustration, or an expression of opinion.

  • Identify your comment as “Failing Schools.”

Death with Dignity

Paul Lamb, 57, was left quadriplegic in a horrific car accident twenty- three years ago. He lives day by day in pain. His only release is the constant drip of morphine into his body. Mr. Lamb is not the man that he wanted to be, having to be dependent on the help from others. He describes his life as “unbearable” because of the intense pain. He has gone to court multiple times in the hope that someone will be merciful and allow him to end his suffering, but he got rejected.

The paragraph suffers from a choppy, repetitive sentence structure. Every sentence begins with Paul Lamb or a pronoun referring to Paul Lamb. The result is a series of  five unrelated statements that make no argument.

One Solution: Paul Lamb, 57, deserves the right to be released from his pain and dependency. For 23 years, he has lived in unbearable pain, or debilitated by a morphine drip that eases the body’s agony without relieving his total dependence on others since quadriplegia deprived him of the use of his limbs. Since he cannot be the man he wants to be, Lamb has spent years unsuccessfully battling the courts for the right to end his suffering.

Exercise: Rewrite the same material to emphasize why Mr. Lamb, and nobody else, should have the right to decide his fate.

  • Identify your comment as “Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death.”

41 thoughts on “Editing for Logic”

  1. Death with Dignity

    Individuals who have been impacted negatively by some sort of ailment or accident that lives life in constant pain should be given the right to choose when to be euthanized. The only exception is that permission should be given so long as they are in the state of mind to do so.

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    1. It’s hard to imagine being “impacted positively” by an ailment or accident, so you probably mean individuals who are sick or injured. That simple language is usually the best.

      Sick or injured patients in constant pain should be given the right to choose when to be euthanized.

      The disparity between “being given permission” by someone OTHER THAN the patient and the warning that the patient should be in her right mind is hard to resolve. I think you mean any patient still in her right mind HAS the right to make the decision. We can put your two sentences together:

      Sick or injured patients in constant pain have the right to choose the time of their own death provided they’re competent when they make the decision.

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  2. “Hooray Sleep”

    Sleep improves performance and efficiency of one’s brain while also increasing learning capacity.

    Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain. The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.

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    1. Good logic. Wordy delivery.

      Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain. The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.

      First distillation:
      Sleep is the most effective tool to improve the brain’s efficiency. Both learning and exam performance are improved by longer sleep.

      Even shorter and more efficient:
      By increasing brain efficiency, longer sleep improves learning and exam performance better than anything else.

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      1. Your rewrites still Fail For Grammar (FFG) here, Marvel, and for the same reason the original versions do. They violate pronoun/antecedent agreement rules by mixing singular subjects (a person, someone) with plural pronouns (their brain, their performance, they). Notice the easiest solution to this common problem is to eliminate the pronouns. My distilled versions don’t have any people in them. Nobody wonders whose brains we’re talking about.

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  3. THE ORIGINAL
    Paul Lamb, 57, was left quadriplegic in a horrific car accident twenty- three years ago. He lives day by day in pain. His only release is the constant drip of morphine into his body. Mr. Lamb is not the man that he wanted to be, having to be dependent on the help from others. He describes his life as “unbearable” because of the intense pain. He has gone to court multiple times in the hope that someone will be merciful and allow him to end his suffering, but he got rejected.

    REVISED
    – Paul Lamb is a quadriplegic has painfully suffered for the last 23 year. He not the man that he wants to be and completely depends on the help of other people. Since this is Mr. Lamb’s body, he has the right to end his life and suffering. No one but him should have a decision over his life, especially since he is suffering.

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    1. Some grammar problems with the first sentence, but good work overall. Here’s the first sentence with revisions: Paul Lamb is a quadriplegic WHO has painfully suffered for the last 23 yearS.

      Your third sentence makes what sounds like an ethical claim based on an unspoken warrant, but it adds nothing to the similar statement you make in the fourth. Could they be combined?

      No one but Mr. Lamb has the right to end his life of suffering.

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  4. Negative Sports Media

    Professional sports is easily one of, if the the, largest forms of entertainment in our world today. Although the news about teams or players can be negative, sometimes it adds to the entertainment of the sport and makes it more enjoyable for the viewer.

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    1. Good and concise, but I’d like to recommend some refinements you should incorporate forever. Yeah. They’re useful.

      Eliminate every “it” you don’t actually need. [We need very few.]
      Although the news about teams or players can be negative, sometimes IT adds to the entertainment of the sport and makes IT more enjoyable for the viewer.

      Even negative news about teams or players is entertaining and adds enjoyment to sport.

      Notice we’ve replaced too horribly weak subjects—”it” and “it”—with the more robust subject, “negative news.”

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  5. Hooray Sleep
    -Sleeping, which improves our brain’s efficiency, can help us learn and do better on exams the longer we do it.

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  6. “Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death”

    Paul Lamb, 57, has been suffering every day since his accident that left him a quadriplegic. The only relief he gets is from his morphine drip yet, that still doesn’t allow him to be who he wants to be. He has gone to court to try and end his suffering but he wasn’t successful. When it comes down to it, it is Mr. Lamb’s body and life and it is his right to decide if he wants to end the suffering.

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    1. This is successful, flowers, AND it could be further improved. I say that a lot, and I mean it every time. As I read your paragraph, I feel the shift of your remarks from Active to Passive. Lamb acts and Lamb is acted upon. Which one would make us more sympathetic to him?

      This is a new consideration I hadn’t intended, but let’s go with it and see what we can learn.

      LAMB ACTS

      Paul Lamb, 57, suffers every day since he fell and injured himself. The morphine drip he uses more often than recommended for pain relief emasculates him. He has failed to convince any court to see the logic of his appeal to end his suffering. He lives his life now in agony and regret because he has no alternative.

      LAMB IS ACTED UPON

      Paul Lamb, 57, was injured in a freak accident that deprived him of the use of all his limbs. The morphine drip he’s been allowed for the relief of unbearable pain has deprived him of his masculinity, even his humanity. The courts have all denied him the right to manage his own body and life span. No one besides Paul Lamb, already victimized by fate, medicine, and the law, should have the power to prevent him from ending his life, which has become unlivable.

      Again, I’m not suggesting you should have written either of these (They require some invention of new facts!). I’m just musing out loud about the persuasiveness of active and passive verbs in pleading the case of a person who might be victim or active agent.

      What do you think? Which one creates more sympathy for Mr Lamb?

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  7. Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death
    Paul Lamb should have the right to end his pain. It has been twenty-three years of suffering for Paul Lamb, who was left quadriplegic in a monstrous automobile accident. A daily dose of morphine became his life companion that calms his state of physical agony, but not his desire to be the man wants to be. Since quadriplegia destroyed his desire to live, Mr. Lamb has spent years fighting for his right to end his suffering in the court, where his petition has been always rejected.

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    1. This is really nice, Chemia. I was just musing aloud in my Comments to flowers just north of here whether using Active or Passive verb constructions would make Mr. Lamb more sympathetic. You’ve written a paragraph that clearly casts him as the victim and demands our sympathy. Was it by making him the passive recipient of fate? Let’s see:
      —He was “left quadriplegic.” That’s completely passive victimhood.
      —Morphine calms his pain but not his desires.
      —He fights but “is rejected.”

      Could you combine your version with mine to create a hybrid that would squeeze all the pathos and injustice out of Lamb’s victimhood?

      Like

  8. “Hooray Sleep”
    Sleep is the most effective tool a person can utilize when wanting to improve the performance and efficiency of their brain. The more sleep someone gets the better their performance on exams and anything they are trying to learn will be.

    -Sleep is the most effective tool to improve the efficiency of one’s brain. Longer sleep results in better exam scores and improves learning.

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  9. Hooray Sleep!

    Sleeping is the most effective way to improve the performance of the brain; the more sleep acquired, the better the brains’ performance.

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      1. Sometimes the solution is too obvious.
        I’m just seeing this possibility now (not saying you should have used it).

        Sleep improves brain efficiency and test performance, and the more the better.

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  10. “Negative Sports Media”

    Professional sports are extremely entertaining while players are on the field but, many news reporters would rather write/talk about what professional players do wrong off the field.

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  11. Hooray Sleep
    Sleep improves our brain’s learning efficiency, especially in an academic setting.

    Negative Sports Media
    Sports broadcasters often emphasize the mistakes players make off the field instead of addressing their actual game performance.

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  12. Mr. Lamb’s Dignified Death

    Paul Lamb has been quadriplegic for twenty-three years of his 57 years of living. He resents his dependency on others and the fact that his only relief is a morphine drip for his pain. Despite his agony, the court has denied him the right to end his own life. With the knowledge in mind that Mr. Lamb has the right to his own freedom and happiness, why shouldn’t it be his choice to free himself from the pain he experiences on a daily basis?

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  13. learning in our sleep:
    -hooray sleep
    – sufficient sleep helps us to perform better in exams and other tasks which we seek to learn. also it improves our brain efficiency due to which we can learn better.

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  14. Negative Sports Media:

    News reporters disregard the amazing athletic feats on the field of professional athletes and instead opt for writing about any time an athlete gets into trouble.

    Hooray Sleep:

    Sleep is known to help brain efficiency. The more sleep we get the more it helps us learn and perform better on exams.

    Failing Schools:

    Underprivileged students in New York City are more likely to graduate when the overcrowded, understaffed, badly managed public schools they’re forced to attend are replaced with smaller “specialized” schools, says Bill Moyers. Inner-city students already living in poverty deserve better than failing schools that don’t motivate them or teach them to succeed. Education has been linked to improving conditions of low income areas. If schools were replaced to help these areas like the inner-city, perhaps dropout rates wouldn’t be as high for these areas.

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  15. Hooray Sleep

    Sleeping longer leads to enhanced brain efficiency and performance, which can increase test scores along with learning capabilities.

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  16. Negative Sports Media

    As professional sports have continued to transform from a shared pass time into a fundamental part of American culture, so too has the celebrity of the athletes that participate. Thus, with increasingly more attention being spent by the media on the lives of athletes, it is becoming just as likely that an athlete will make headlines for something he or she has done OFF the field, as it is for something he or she may have done ON the field.

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  17. Negative Sports Media

    Professional sports are one of the largest forms of entertainment in today’s society. Even though news reporters only report the negative news they hear or see about the players, it can be entertaining and make the sport more amusing for the watcher.

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  18. Hooray Sleep!

    Sleeping improves the performance of the brain, If you want your brain to be at it’s best you should get as much sleep as you can.

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