Tim points to some nice comments — Strong Language — about how many engineers, scientists, and military officers write clearly. I’ve seen the exact same phenomenon working with the engineers here at Sun and the scientists, physicians, and veterinarians I knew at Tufts University. It’s not only their writing that tends to be precise, but their speech and their arguments are laser sharp, too. I heard it quite clearly at Supernova a couple of weeks ago from a navy fighter pilot talking about technology and terrorism and many years ago from another navy pilot talking about Tap Code at the Hanoi Hilton. You just know clarity and precision when you hear it or when you read it. You can feel it, can’t you? Good stuff.
By the way, my favorite book on writing is Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph Williams. It’s one of the best.