Kaikoura: The Dolphin Conspiracy #4

Well, I have now completed the first draft of the Kaikoura Paper and my, it’s an interesting read. One that I shall be denying you at this stage because I prefer my first drafts to remain mysterious. Partly because of the insulting footnotes but mostly because you would be put off by the obvious and regrettable mistakes in reasoning that the first half of the paper is filled with.My first draft approach to academic writing is one of never going back. If I spot a mistake in my reasoning then I will lay down a quick footnote and then move on, making sure that the mistake will not occur again in the piece. It usually means that my conclusion is good but that the reasons for coming to it can look just a wee bit mysterious in the first draft; a good reason to not let people ever read it.

The rationale behind this method of writing seems fairly obvious to me. If I were to go back and rewrite sections that contained obvious mistakes it would take an age to get the first draft done. Whilst it might well produce a better first draft it also would produce a certain amount of despair in this writer. There is something about rushing towards the completion of a paper that makes the process, for me, of writing fun. Having to go back and rewrite parts of the paper drags this sensation out and is, at least for me, a primary motivator to not do any substantial work. Far better to complete the piece and do the fixing up in the editing session that will produce the second draft.

I am fairly harsh on myself when I discover I am making mistakes in a paper; my footnotes are condemning, condescending and generally insulting. I’m not going to print those, but here are two examples, with commentary, of things that annoyed me during the writing of the paper:

6. Damn stupid language with no proper future tense… I mean, really.

In my discussion of Conspiracies I wanted to speciate Conspiracies Then, Conspiracies Now and Conspiracies… Well, ‘Future’ just sounds silly, ‘Tomorrow’ sounds too immediate, et cetera. In Latin it would be much easier; in Ancient Greek even easier, but in English… This is a stupid language I am philosophising in (one day I may well get around to writing up something about how it is much easier to philosophise on certain topics in particular languages).

8. Surely a crime if ever I have heard one.

This refers to the discovery of the Ridolfi Plot, where Charles Baille was discovered carrying comprising letters in Dover. The term ‘carrying comprising letters in Dover’ actually sounds like a crime in itself, and I’m now annoyed that the Ridolfi Plot has been replaced by the Babington Plot in the latter half of the paper (I know more details about the Babington Plot, it seems).

Oh well, time to go and redraft.


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.