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Long Block Paragraph Alert! from Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta

January 19, 2021

Keep Sharp:Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanjay Gupta might appeal to a bunch of people my age because we’re concerned about dementia and Alzheimers and stuff like that. Whenever I forget something, I wonder if it’s age or if it’s because I have too much information in my head already. At any rate, this is a good idea for a book.

I’m not convinced that Sanjay Gupta is the ideal author for this book, though. Yeah, Gupta is a medical analyst on CNN, but to me being on TV gives him less credibility. It’s kind of like Bill O’Reilly and his history books; the topics he chooses are interesting, but I’m not going to read his books. TV personalities are too smug to be trusted.

My other problem with Sanjay Gupta is that his paragraphs are too long. I have nothing against long paragraphs if there’s a reason for the paragraphs to be long. Gupta’s long paragraphs are rambling with ideas that could easily be split. Maybe this isn’t the best writing style for a book called Keep Sharp.

Here’s one example:

*****

The list of twenty-four questions that follows will help you assess your risk factors for brain decline. These are mostly all modifiable risk factors, so don’t panic if you answer yes to many of these questions. This is not meant to frighten you. (Remember: I don’t believe that scare tactics work.) Some of these questions correlate with highly reversible symptoms of cognitive decline. Chronic sleep deprivation, for example, can lead to a staggering amount of memory loss that can appear like the onset of dementia. Sleeping well is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve all of your brain functions, as well as your ability to learn and remember new knowledge (it improves every system in the body). I underestimated the value of sleep for too long, taking great pride in my ability to function on a lack of it. Take it from me: That was a mistake. Luckily, this can be remedied with proper diagnosis and simply going to bed earlier and putting away your electronic devices and your to-do list. Some queries may seem unrelated, such as your level of education. For reasons I’ll explain in this book, multiple studies now show that higher education might have protective effects in cognitive decline but not necessarily at slowing the decline once memory loss has started. In other words, people with more years of formal education (e.g., more college attendance and advanced degrees) or greater literacy have a lower risk of dementia than those with fewer years of formal education, but that doesn’t matter as much if you start to develop dementia in the first place.

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An author who writes about brains should know that the average reader prefers shorter paragraphs. Here’s a more readable version. At least, it was easier for me to read.

*****

The list of twenty-four questions that follows will help you assess your risk factors for brain decline. These are mostly all modifiable risk factors, so don’t panic if you answer yes to many of these questions. This is not meant to frighten you. (Remember: I don’t believe that scare tactics work.). Some of these questions correlate with highly reversible symptoms of cognitive decline.

Chronic sleep deprivation, for example, can lead to a staggering amount of memory loss that can appear like the onset of dementia. Sleeping well is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve all of your brain functions, as well as your ability to learn and remember new knowledge (it improves every system in the body). I underestimated the value of sleep for too long, taking great pride in my ability to function on a lack of it. Take it from me: That was a mistake. Luckily, this can be remedied with proper diagnosis and simply going to bed earlier and putting away your electronic devices and your to-do list.

Some queries may seem unrelated, such as your level of education. For reasons I’ll explain in this book, multiple studies now show that higher education might have protective effects in cognitive decline but not necessarily at slowing the decline once memory loss has started. In other words, people with more years of formal education (e.g., more college attendance and advanced degrees) or greater literacy have a lower risk of dementia than those with fewer years of formal education, but that doesn’t matter as much if you start to develop dementia in the first place.

*****

What do you think? Which version is easier to read? Should a book about preserving your brain be easy to read? Is Sanjay Gupta more credible than other medical professionals who aren’t on television?

5 Comments
  1. It has been the inference since the nineteenth century and before, that the longer the paragraph the more intelligent the writer. Of course, this is wrong. Any writer trying to explain himself to the reader about the subject matter he is writing about is not a writer. Who ever edited the book, is not an editor. For instance, from the first paragraph above, consider the following as adding nothing to the text but is shielded from review by being in a long paragraph: “These are mostly all modifiable risk factors, so don’t panic if you answer yes to many of these questions. This is not meant to frighten you. (Remember: I don’t believe that scare tactics work.)”
    Note also the next sentence pretty much restates the first sentence.

    • “Note also the next sentence pretty much restates the first sentence.”-

      Maybe he thinks repetition will help our brains remember his important points. Or maybe nobody really edited this book.

  2. Marilyn Kriete permalink

    You’re absolutely right! That bloated paragraph hurt my brain. Looks like it was written on his phone and then went straight to print..

  3. I agree that the broken-up paragraph reads more easily. I don’t agree with Gupta that getting good sleep is easy.

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