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Topics/tags: Language, short

In their comments on my recent musing about the term double-blind grading, someone pointed me to a fisking by the professor who was being asked to employ this technique.

I had not heard the term fisking before, so I did what any sensible person does. I pulled down my _Oxford English Dictionary) from the shelf and looked it up.

No, wait. That’s not right. I did a Web search. My OED is in my lab, and I was working at home [1].

For those who are as uninformed as I am, I found the following definition on ScienceBlogs.

fisking: n.

[blogosphere; very common] A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist who was a frequent (and deserving) early target of such treatment.

That definition is supposedly taken from However, that page no longer seems to exist [2]. But we might as well credit it.

I’ll admit that I found it more fun to look at the Wikipedia talk page on fisking. I don’t read enough Wikipedia talk pages. If they’re all this interesting, I definitely should.

In any case, I look forward to finding that deserves a fisking and then writing that fisking. Maybe I’ll even write a fisking [3] about one of my own musings or rants.

Postscript: I found that my spell checker [4] did not know the term fisking, but Grammarly did. On the other hand, Grammarly doesn’t seem to know the name of my spell checker [5].

[1] I likely would have done a Web search in any case. I wonder if Grinnell has a license to the online OED.

[2] Or maybe it’s just blank now.

[3] I would much prefer to write fisk than write a fisking. But it doesn’t seem to be a verb.

[4] aspell.

[5] It appears that aspell also doesn’t know about aspell.

Version 1.0 of 2019-11-25.