Snow has stolen some class. So, suffer me some consideration, re: Columnist Response #3. Feast on some fecund feedback.
1) “Talks about how”- Why? Too colloquial and imprecise. Too often “how” can (and should) be replaced with “that.” It’s not a matter of degree. If you are identifying an argument, you must be precise. Vagaries deduct from analytical value. i.e. “Parker argues how Obamacare is wrong” Should read: “Parker argues that Obamacare is misguided…”
2) “She goes on to say”- Why? Concision. While not technically wrong, this particular phrase gives me the howling fantods.
3) “This” or “That” or “These” at beginning of a sentence– Why? It is too easy to leave demonstrative pronouns without clear referents. This can create needless vagaries (see?). Vagaries deduct from analytical value. Q.E.D. If you do this, take special care that the referent is conspicuously self-evident. Why not just add a further clarification? i.e. “Will’s piece begins with Republican Rep. Steve Scalise’s analogy of Obama’s ‘singular–actually, his single achievement,’ which associates Obama’s efforts on healthcare issues with a person who shows up to a fire only to criticize the flammability of the house. This illustrates Will’s oversimplification…” Second sentence should read: “This seemingly related but imprecise comparison oversimplifies…”
4) “This proves”- Why? Everything I said in my third point, plus you are making a strong claim regarding causality. Any time you make a causal claim (using proves or because) in analytical writing you need to take special care. Often you won’t have enough evidence to make a rigorous, logically valid claim. I’m not saying you should never make causal claims (ears up, I just used a double-negative) but you should hesitate and check to see if you need to use a qualifier. Skeptical? Check with David Hume.