Utility of posting papers in public

I was about to post up a draft of a new paper. And then I picked up on a rather nasty flaw in the argument. So that paper’s now under reconstruction again—until I find a way to patch the gap.

It’s a bit cold-shivery to have almost posted things in a very public way with a major quantifier-shift fallacy right in the centre of them. But I take at least this out of the experience: posting things on blogs is a *very* good way of disciplining yourself on content. At least for me, I’m shifted from a mode where I’m wanting things to work out/patch errors etc—in effect, working on the content of the paper itself—to a mode where I’m looking at it with an eye to potential readers. And it’s the second mode whereby I find I get enough critical distance to reliably spot things that need fixing (be they typos or real errors I’ve missed).

And of course, this is even before the very clever people out there pitch in to helpfully point out all the ways in which things need tightening up or amending. So hooray for academic blogs. But boo to quantifier shift fallacies.

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