Always Be Learning

As Alec Baldwin didn’t say, A. B. L. Always be learning.

I’ve spent much of the past couple of weeks working on a law-review article. In the course of that work, I’ve learned something new about four different topics:

  • Boosters and hedges. A booster is a word or phrase used to support a claim or express a viewpoint more assertively and convincingly; the word certainly is a booster. A hedge is a word or phrase that makes a statement less forceful or assertive; the word probably is a hedge. Boosters and hedges are glaring when they appear in contexts where you don’t expect them. My thanks to @world_on_a_wire and @Rhetoricked for introducing me to these concepts.
  • The distinction under English law between promissory conditions and warranties. After years of not bothering to look into it, I finally did this post about it.
  • The logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, or appeal to popularity. (Go here for Logically Fallacious’s account.) I think it’s the last line of defense for contract-drafting traditionalists, after the notion of “tested” contract language. My thanks to @DanRubins for figuring out what I was looking for.

In the case of two of these topics, enlightenment came via Twitter. So besides being a sinkhole of despair and iniquity, it’s sporadically a source of serendipity.

One might question—actually, I’m the one questioning—the value of this sort of esoterica. Well, I’ll continue doing my bit as a tiny cog in the machinery of civilization. It’s all I’m equipped to do. And besides, it’s fun.

By the way, for those of you wondering about my Alec Baldwin reference:

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.