“are you referring to yourself in the plural now? It’s getting a little spooky…”
(from a comment on a previous post)
Mark Twain wrote that “only presidents, editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we’.” Here at Shtetl-Optimized, we couldn’t agree more. The trouble is that we — sorry, I — have spent too much time in the grammatical dungeon of academic science, where the first-person singular is vaguely taboo.
“But why is it taboo?” you ask. Simple: because if people referred to themselves as “I” in single-author scientific papers, then they’d deprive readers of the fun of reading a sentence like
Hence we see that H is Hermitian
and wondering exactly how to parse it. Personally, I can think of at least seven possibilities:
- Hence I see that H is Hermitian, and so do you, dear reader, unless you have the IQ of a trout.
- Hence Reason, Truth, and Reality themselves, with me as humble scribe, have all testified to the Hermitianness of H since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so after all is naught.
- Hence, though modesty forbids me from saying so, I have shown that H is Hermitian. But one shouldn’t forget all the little people who helped make it possible.
- Hence, after meeting over wine and cheese in our ivory tower, we, the High Priests of the Scientific Orthodoxy, have arrogantly decided that H shall henceforth be Hermitian.
- Hence I — a sniveling wuss who can’t even directly acknowledge his own existence, and probably got beat up a lot in junior high school — have shown that H is Hermitian.
- Hence I — a resident of the collectivist dystopia of Ayn Rand’s novel Anthem, in which the word “I” has been abolished — have shown that H is Hermitian.
- Hence H is Hermitian.