Incomprehensible? Moi?

I’m not quite as “longwinded and incomprehensible” as James, it seems:

I’m not sure exactly how useful this little tool is. Not only does it not give any indication of exactly how your ‘readability’ is calculated, but it also seems to be a little bit indecisive: when I tried it before the last post went up, it claimed that I was writing at the undergraduate level (I presume it just scans the front page, so this post will probably change it again). But it does raise an interesting issue: my main motivation in writing this blog is to make science more accessible, which means presenting information in terms that the non-expert can understand. If this thing is right, I may not be succeeding.
So, some questions for you lot: what level of education do you have? Science or non-science? How much of what I write do you actually understand? Feedback (particularly from lurkers) would be appreciated.

Categories: bloggery

Comments (23)

  1. BrianR says:

    mine was “high school” level…i don’t know if that’s good or bad

  2. Eamon Knight says:

    Master’s degree in Engineering (Computer & Systems), but with a lot of free-time reading in natural science including geology (eg. SciAm level, before they dumbed it down). So while I’m not an expert, I’m not a rank neophyte either, and I can usually glork the vocab (probably the biggest single obstacle to an outsider).

  3. chezjake says:

    Bachelors in Biology & Political Science, significant graduate work in Library/Information Science. Plus lots of self-study — including all of my geology background.
    I have no problem understanding anything you’ve written here.

  4. Chris L says:

    About a month off finishing a PhD in Biology. And yeah, I probably should be looking at that instead of your blog.

  5. Mike says:

    Post-Sec as Electronic Security Systems Technician.
    I understand everything that you are writing about. The really small % that I don’t, a short trip to wikipedia or google usually solves that problem.
    But then again I have always been interested in the earth sciences.
    PS. Those bloody spam redirects are still affecting the SB servers.. :(

  6. Kim says:

    Mine rated as “undergraduate,” which, given who I talk to on a regular basis, is about right.
    (PhD, geology, and I think your writing is excellent.)

  7. Kelly says:

    I’m with Mike :) I understand most of what you write. I have an MLIS (Masters Library & Information Science). I’ve always read/self studied science though…
    I do think that someone that is truly clueless and not well read (or ESL speaker) might have trouble. You do use rather sophisticated sentence structure. (My BA is in English:)

  8. Aaron Lemur Mintz says:

    Bachelor’s in mathematics, reasonable amounts of random learning: Don’t have too much trouble, beyond some trips (neither frequent nor infrequent) to wikipoogle – I do that more than I need, I like delving into topics.

  9. Michele says:

    Undergrad in Economics. I read a lot and science in general is one of many interests. I usually don’t have a problem understanding your writing. What I don’t understand will take me off on a tangent to learn so I will understand more.

  10. Prateek says:

    Undeclared, non-Science focused, undergraduate in a Liberal Arts college. I can generally understand and cogitate on everything you write. The validity of this blog evaluation tool is extremely questionable. It has rated an entirely nonsensical, nascent blog such as mine as “Genius”.

  11. Bachelors in Pol-Sci and nearly completed in Ed
    Interested in Palaeo (and related Geo topics), but no formal training.
    Blog is completely understandable

  12. Stacy says:

    B.S. Chemistry, Ph.D. candidate in Geology (Paleontology).
    Understand the blog, with a few things that I go learn more about.

  13. Bob O'H says:

    My level of science education? I have minions.
    Bob

  14. Chris Rowan says:

    You know, I was convinced that the Nature people would have issues with the use of the word “minion”…

  15. Laelaps says:

    I’ll just let yesterday’s rant take care of my contribution…

  16. Fnord Prefect says:

    I have no degree of any kind and I think your site is plenty accessible. Forgive any unintended arrogance, as I’ve said I am not formally educated myself, but I think you should keep doing what you’re doing. The people who are drawn to this site are trying to learn something. If you go too obscure then that is the beauty of a blog over a journal article… we get to ask questions.

  17. Callan says:

    I’ve got a Master’s in geology & another in Science Education. My undergraduate degree was also in geology. I teach geology for a living, and this is also an issue I struggle with — particularly in wording introductory-level test questions.
    I think you’re doing a great job — and urge you to keep on keeping on (except maybe for the rugby talk — I feel like I would need a PhD to understand that!).

  18. Billy (A Liberal Disabled Vet) says:

    I have a bachelor’s in history (European Military History) but grew up with a geologist Dad who worked for the National Park Service. I lived at Death Valley, CA, and Grand Canyon, AZ, for many years. All vacations included running comentary on geology (and gripes about the ‘damn trees hiding the good stuff’). I fulfilled my hard science credits in college with a geology overview course. I understand about 95% of your site (which for a softy history major is probably not too bad) and I (more important) really enjoy your site.

  19. djlactin says:

    Ph.D. Entomology

  20. beldar says:

    B.S. in geophysics with no problems understanding the posts (although I must admit to having to refresh my memory about some of the scientific details after 25+ years out of college). I think you’re doing a fine job making the science accessible. Your posts have the right combination of generality and detail for both the layman and those with backgrounds in the sciences.

  21. Chris, thanks for the post, I had a lot of fun goofing off with this service!
    PhD in geology, I understand most of your posts, except those about Rubgy, I have no freaking clue how that game is played or how more bones aren’t broken! :) Seriously though, I think you provide enough information for the lay-person to figure out what they need to go Wiki or Google to completely understand. Take a peek at my rigorous analysis of the service, I wouldn’t be too worried about where your rating fell. :)
    cheers
    John

  22. Ross says:

    Undergrad student in mathematics. Just started reading, but I understand most things so far.
    Incidentally, setting up a throwaway blog and copy-pasting your entire front page to feed to the readability machine gives a different reading level. Weird.

  23. kevin z says:

    B.Sc. Evolution & Ecology and Geology, 4th year PhD Biology.
    Your doing great Chris! Been enjoying your writing since early summer.