In defense of Dr. Jill’s dissertation

If Jill Biden hadn’t insisted on being called “Dr.” I doubt anyone would have examined her doctoral dissertation. And if someone had, I wouldn’t have piled on.

But Jill insisted on the appellation, so her dissertation became fair game. Kyle Smith rips it here. He writes: “To call Jill Biden’s dissertation thin gruel is an insult to gruel.” Smith finds the dissertation plagued by “insipid writing, typos, faulty language, [and] weak research.”

I haven’t read the entire dissertation, but in looking it over I found a few things in its favor — things that it set it apart from a good deal of current academic writing (the kind Steve used to ridicule in his academic absurdity of the week series), including some law review articles and, I assume, more than a few dissertations.

Jill Biden’s writing is insipid, to be sure, but she did produce mostly simple declarative sentences that one can comprehend. She didn’t use much jargon. And although most of what she said is obvious, she didn’t say anything absurd (at least not in the portions I reviewed).

Kyle Smith isn’t wrong to call the dissertation “garbage.” However, in important respects I believe it’s superior to a fair amount of contemporary academic writing.

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