Examples of Bad Writing



Buzzword Salad

This kind of writing is easy to recognize. It's full of fashionable buzzwords. Because buzzwords sound impressive and convey no precise meaning, they are very useful in business and military management, politics, and educational administration.

As of this writing, the buzzwords of choice include "team," "process," "interactive," "empowerment," "ownership," "strategic," "assessment," "competency," "customer satisfaction," "validate," "support," "asset," "environment," "parameter," "maximize," "focus," "leverage," "system," and "paradigm."

Combine these randomly and you get meaningless phrases such as:

  • "analysis and validation of support strategies for customer satisfaction parameters"

  • "maximized systems of strategic environmental processes"

  • "parameters of team competency assessment support"

  • "focus on ownership of teamwork assessment validation assets"

  • "empowering your interactive competency team process"

  • "utilizing paradigms of support validation strategies of assessment"

Isn't this fun? You too can be "management material"!

Buzzword users prefer the big vague words: "utilize" rather than "use," "implement" rather than "do," "facilitate" rather than "do" or "make possible" or "make easy."

Here's an example from Scott Adams (from The Dilbert Principle):

"I utilized a multitined tool to process a starch resource."

TRANSLATION: "I used my fork to eat a potato."

Here's another actual example Scott Adams received from a fan:

"This change will allow us to better leverage our talent base in an area where developmental roles are under way and strategically focuses us toward the upcoming Business System transition where Systems literacy and accuracy will be essential to maintain and to further improve service levels to our customer base going forward."

Want more examples? Read your company's Mission Statement or Vision Statement.





Unintelligible "philosophical" writing by a beginning philosophy student


Existing is being unique. Existence, reality, essence, cause, or truth is uniqueness. The geometric point in the center of the sphere is nature’s symbol of the immeasurable uniqueness within its measurable effect. A center is always unique; otherwise it would not be a center. Because uniqueness is reality, or that which makes a thing what it is, everything that is real is based on a centralization.









First figure out exactly what the writer is trying to say. This passage doesn't make a lot of sense to me. This is a good example of what I'd call "word salad."

This writer, by the way, is technically very good. She makes no mistakes in spelling or grammar or punctuation. The problems are entirely with content.






WAY too many technical errors!


I owe the error-filled paragraphs to Rob Kyff (Wordguy@aol.com) from his column in the San Jose Mercury News. The rewrite is mine.

The amount of grammer and usage error’s today is astounding. Not to mention spelling. If I was a teacher, I’d feel badly that less and less students seem to understand the basic principals of good writing. Neither the oldest high school students nor the youngest kindergartner know proper usage. A student often thinks they can depend on word processing programs to correct they’re errors. Know way!

Watching TV all the time, its easy to see why their having trouble. TV interferes with them studying and it’s strong affect on children has alot to due with their grades. There’s other factors, too, including the indifference of parents like you and I. A Mom or Dad often doesn’t know grammer themselves. We should tell are children to study hard like we did at they’re age and to watch less TV then their classmates.


There are at least 20 glaring errors of spelling and grammar here. Try rewriting the passage yourself, eliminating as many errors as you can find. Then check the rewrite below.













Here is one possible rewrite.

Students today make an astounding number of grammar, spelling, and usage errors. If I were a teacher, I'd feel bad that fewer and fewer students seem to understand the basic principles of good writing. Neither the oldest high school students nor the youngest kindergartners know proper usage. Students often mistakenly think they can depend on word processing programs to correct their errors.

It's easy to see why many students are having trouble: they're watching too much television. Time spent watching television cuts into study time, so students' grades fall. Also, some parents may be indifferent to their children's errors because the parents do not know grammar themselves.

We should tell our children that if they want to succeed in school, they must study hard and watch less television.




Living in the Bay Area it is more relaxed here then any other place in the USA, we can tolerate alot more then someone in Oklahoma.  Which is in the Midwest. For instance we have many different races and cultures then they do in Oklahoma.  So we do not become shocked when we see homosexual relationships, but Oklahomans would because they do not see much of that type of relationships. To us if a person is homosexual that is there business. The reason I mention this is would it be acceptable for me to tell Bob from Oklahoma that it is perfectly fine for homosexual relationships and that there is nothing wrong?  So as trivial as this may sound if I may be so bold to ask is it alright to impose my feelings about my culture of experience of homosexual relationships to Bob and his culture of little or no experience of homosexual relationships?









You can pretty much figure out what this person is trying to say until the last two sentences. Then your guess is as good as mine. I rewrote it as follows:



Ambitious entrepreneurs from places like India and Hong Kong seek out the unique opportunities of Silicon Valley. San Jose boasts the second largest Vietnamese population of any city in America. More than half the children in San Jose's public schools are Latino. Gay people from all over the United States seek out the tolerant enclaves of San Francisco and Santa Cruz. People flock to the San Francisco Bay Area from all over the world.

The Bay Area is an unusually cosmopolitan region of the United States, so we are, by and large, tolerant of diverse lifestyles. Most of us don't become shocked when we see gay couples, for example. But our friends and relatives from less tolerant parts of America might feel uneasy when they visit us here. If we care for their feelings, maybe we should think twice before visiting the Castro with Uncle Bob and Aunt Minnie.





Not terrible, but could be SO much better!


The average amount of commercials a thirty minute program airs is something like eight minutes long. That leaves 22 minutes of programming, shorter if there are more commercials to air. The reality is that without commercials there would be no program. That includes your local news station as well. Advertisers pay big bucks to air their commercials, their money is what allows you to view the days important events on your television. They control how much news will be given on any given day. That however is not the only thing they control. They also control what goes on the news. News stations are careful as not to offend their advertisers with any of their stories in fear that they may revoke their commercials and with it take a huge sum of money.

Commercial television regulates what we watch more than we think. It is nearly impossible to believe what we see on the news. First, the news is edited beyond belief. How are we supposed to form opinions off of a two and a half minute (the average amount of minutes) story? Take the presidential campaign’s for example, we are given only ten seconds of each of the candidates debate speech.




Here is a sample rewrite:

The average thirty-minute television program contains eight minutes of commercials. That leaves about 22 minutes of programming. News programs are no exception; they devote just as much time to commercials as other kinds of programs.

In fact, commercial television stations would have no programs at all without commercials. A "commercial" television station, by definition, makes profit by collecting fees from advertisers for running commercials. The advertisers' money is what allows you to view the day's important events on your television. The advertisers pay big bucks to run their commercials. The more popular the program, the more desirable and expensive its commercial time. So commercial television stations earn more money from advertisers if programs are popular. To be popular, programs cannot be too "highbrow": i.e., they cannot require viewers to have much background information or to make much mental effort. They must, first and foremost, be entertaining.

Furthermore, since commercial television depends on advertisers for revenue, it cannot afford to run programs that criticize or otherwise embarrass corporate sponsors.

These two pressures - to entertain viewers and please sponsors - dramatically affect news programming. First, since advertisers pay for commercial time weeks or months in advance, the half-hour news program will last half an hour, no matter how much (or how little) news there is on a particular day. Second, no matter how complex or tragic the stories, the news program will strive to entertain, simplify, and reassure.

Look at Presidential campaign coverage, for example. News stations present only ten-second "sound bites" from the candidates' speeches. The average story runs only two and a half minutes.




Now you try. There are five more writing samples. See if you can rewrite them so they are clear and vigorous.








As that there are alot of people (weather they are philosophers or not) there are many exceptions to moral rules or laws. One thing I find interesting about Immanuel Kant, are his strong feelings toward not lying at any time ever no matter what and not to deal with the consequences and the considerations of individual situations and circumstances and possible exceptions that need to be accounted for when making a decision of morality and ethics. Immanuel Kant felt strongly that lying was always wrong, he was against it. But whose to say? Wasn’t lying just Kants biggest how shall I say "pet-peeve"? "No lying ever, no exceptions" needs to be addressed more seriously in the future by later philosophers, if you ask me its worth a try. Immanuel Kant was probably one of the most supportive philosiphers of absolute rules in the ethical and moral decision-making systems of thought I have studied.








HINT: To better understand what this person is trying to say, read Marxism and Culture.

According to Marx, he read utilitarianism and he disagreed with it. He feels humans are alienated from the following nature,body,others ,and one’s own intellectual ability.

Marx believes that people are alienated from nature or comes to hate the object he or she creates. In some cases you can say this is true although people are at times happy and pleased with the product of his or her labor.

Alienation of the body stregnth, agility are all controlled by the capitalist for hid benefit. Alienation of others says workers see other workers simply as competitors for the rewards they are offered.

Finally intellectual alienation is faced with contradictions. In Marxist terminology a contidiction is a notion that is correct by everyone around you but clearly false if thought about in any length of time by yourself.







If the theories of science were the laws of origin how do people have such strong emotions from a science experiment? Freud speaks of a child that is lost, but love created this child and God gave him a soul to love back. He thought religion fulfilled the gap for new adults who had no parents but there seems to be a lot of children with parents that give them love, security, and their needs and they still believe highly in God and the scriptures. This proves that religion does not fill the gap of a parent which has been lost. 








Immanuel Kant was a great philosipher that came up with many philosophical thoughts. He represents philosophy at it’s best. One issue that went against his moral laws was that of people having a lack of honesty or lying. Kant was strongly in favor of the view that when the ethical and moral decision to lie is made by a person, they’re would always be negative consequences of they’re choice. Kant also held the firm belief that lying was wrong at all times. I disagree, my view is that sometimes all lying is not wrong.








Within our society, there is an individual. An individual with individual thoughts and actions. But who determines whether or not that individual is correct in their choices? Are our thoughts brain washed through the media with it’s hellish ideas or our closet friends that try to direct us in the right direction? No one may ever know what is right or wrong.

So what is ethical relativism anyway? And who is behind all of the madness of ethical relativism? It is my understanding that relativist’s are believed to think that relativism is true. Ethical Relativism is of a mind to say that whatever one’s culture says is right is the right thing for him or her to do. This world we human beings live in is not without a variety of many different and diverse cultures with different cultural practices and hence different moralities. Studying ethics from a philosophical point of view, ethical relativist’s might conclude that your wasting your time just like philosophers have always wasted they’re time.


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