Iowa State University


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He should have been in Extension
by Bob Hartzler

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Because of the competitive nature of the herbicide business, the words of Extension Weed Scientists are closely scrutinized by persons in industry. Rarely do we make it through a month without upsetting somebody because our view on a product may not necessarily coincide with that of the manufacturer . The following quote from the book Racing to the Beginning of the Road: The Search for the Origin of Cancer is a good representation of what it sometimes feels like when you're out on the extension circuit. The excerpt was found in the March 7 issue of Science.

'I was tired - bone tired - of having to speak in a tentative voice, using the usual mealymouthed academic circumlocutions1 that allowed me and my friends to say exactly what we thought without having to commit ourselves to its correctness. Our lectures and published reports were riddled with the same waffling words: "implicate", "suggest", "is consistent with". We trembled at the prospect of stating anything with total certainty, fearful that years down the road some enterprising graduate student would find a flaw in what we said and then, God forbid, reveal us as fools. So we built escape hatches into our prose, and made the wordcrafting of equivocation into a higher form of art.'

- Robert A. Weinberg, in Racing to the Beginning of the Road: The Search for the Origin of Cancer (Harmony)

1I had to look this word up. According to Webster, circumlocution is: 1) the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea, or 2) evasion in speech.

Prepared by Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University

For more information contact:
ISU Extension Agronomy
2104 Agronomy Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-1010
Voice: (515) 294-1923
Fax: (515) 294-9985
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Common chemical and trade names are used in this publication. The use of trade names is for clarity by the reader. Inclusion of a trade name does not imply endorsement of that particular brand of herbicide and exclusion does not imply nonapproval.