Got a little bit of a groove going.
“Well, once I realized the diagnosis was botched, I went looking at the rest of the reports, to try to figure out what had caused it. And there was nothing. At least, nothing inconsistent with the false diagnosis.
“But I saw that Chook had actually printed out a copy of the patient informational summary you give with medical diagnoses. The full version of those usually don’t get kept, because they’re literally just definitions of terms and standard descriptions of procedures, but since there was a hard copy for once, I went to go find it.” Maki opened up her bag and pulled out some papers. “I can’t do the text injustice. Here, read it yourself.”
I started to read — and wished I hadn’t. As Maki said, informational summaries are just there to give you a nice, soothing data dump. We’ve had a century’s worth of desperate linguistic research to learn how to do that better, because it’s a damn scary universe out there and every insight on how to calm people down pays dividends in human lives later. Some cultures are good at war, or science, or art; ours is good at keeping people from losing their shit.
These words weren’t designed for that. They were designed for the opposite of that. The word choice, the slightly nonstandard font, even the punctuation and spacing — they matter. Behold the wonders of our modern age! Weaponized linguistic programming.