Barbara Spellman

Buy the Book: Review of The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

Perspectives on Psychological Science

UVA Law Faculty Affiliations

Barbara A. Spellman


Last year, Steven Pinker made me cry. Again. The previous time was in 1994 when I read his first popular book, The Language Instinct. I had dreamed of writing a book about reasoning for a broad audience, but Pinker’s book was so rich and beautiful that I knew I could never write something as worthy of our field. The provocation for crying in 2014 was Pinker’s newest book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Persons Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. The reason for crying this time, however, was quite different. Since I became editor in 2010, every article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science has gone through two types of review: a scientific review and a writing review. The latter task, performed by my editorial team and me, has not always been either easy or pleasant—not for the authors and not for us. In a fantasy, I imagine that rather than sending authors pages of comments about the writing, I could have simply told them to buy, read, and use Pinker’s book.


Barbara A. Spellman, Buy the Book: Review of The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker (reviewing Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style) 10 Perspectives on Psychological Science 357-358 (2015).

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