Like a Bug!

“Keller and others accuse the impacters of trying to squash deliberation before alternate ideas can get a fair hearing.”


– The Atlantic, “The Nastiest Fued in Science,” Bianca Bosker, September 2018.


Journalists often misunderstand the word “quash.” It’s a legal term that means to overturn or to suppress, as you would “quash a move to dismiss the charges” or “quash a revolt.” The word “squash” means to compress something by squeezing, such as “I squashed the grape.” You can quash a motion in a court of law. You cannot squash it, as it has no physical body.


Gerta Keller, a scientist, would never put up with squashing other scientists. See her here:


The offending sentence, which was presumably read by the illustrious editors of The Atlantic and perhaps even by its author herself, contains the additional ugly error of using the word “alternate” where the word “alternative” is needed. “Alternate” ideas are ones that switch back and forth. “Alternative” is meant to describe a situation in which more than one choice exists.


As for the word “impacters,” your guess is as good as mine. Norman Mailer once said that letting journalists have access to the printed word was like giving a loaded gun to a three-year-old.