A Reminder of What Science Writing Can Be

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I’m sometimes asked who my favorite science writers are. I don’t like science writers per se; I like science writing, or rather some science writing–the passages and chapters and books that remind me just how good science writing can get, just how high above the wasteland of hackery, dishonest simplification, and cliches it can rise. This morning by chance I stumbled across a recording from 1996 of John McPhee reading one of those passages (he reads from one of his geology books at about 6:20). It has the added bonus of an explanation far more clear than I could offer as to why an English major would wind up as a science writer.