Where Pinker breaks ranks with most enemies of tendentious writing is on the question of motive. He cites Hanlon’s razor—“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”—and turns to cognitive science for explanations of why we are so bad at presenting our hard-earned knowledge to others.
Hanlon’s razor, eh? Love it.
As for that explanation Pinker turns to cognitive science for, it’s this:
A major reason, he says, is that once we learn something, it is very hard for us to know what it is like not to know it. This “curse of knowledge” leads us to under-explain and rely on abbreviation, shorthand, and jargon, as we assume our readers know much more than they actually do.
Hmmm. We’ll keep that in mind.