The Importance of Being Earnest in One's Proofreading
Recently, I assigned my students a short, five-paragraph essay on the issue of instinct versus intelligence in animals, and I learned various amazing facts about instinct, including a rather astonishing assertion about a particular instinct in newborn babies.
But first, a reminder about that "dark-colored, semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammal of the family Mustelidae," namely, the mink:
Mink are, of course, aggressive creatures, though less aggressive in their domestic form:
At any rate, here is what one student wrote on instinct:
All kinds of animals are originally instinctive. They live daily for survival and they fight each other voraciously to get their own profit.Economic law of the jungle, no doubt, but it's a dog-eat-dog world . . .
For instance, a new born baby has not ever learned how to suck, but the baby sucks the mother's mink naturally.I'm not entirely sure that a newborn baby will profit much from voraciously attacking a mink and attempting to suck it. And which mink are we referring to? The mother's mink stole, as depicted in the second photo above? Not recommended! Anything of sustenance has long been sucked out of that dry skin. As for the mink in the first photo, such a ferocious creature would be extremely dangerous for any newborn infant to attack, even if the animal is the mother's pet! I'd put my money on the mink. But who am I to argue with instinct? There must be some survival value to a baby's innate desire to suck a mother's mink, else there wouldn't be an instinctive desire of that sort.
Too bad, though, that close proofreading -- spending all morning taking out a comma and all afternoon putting it back in -- is not an instinct but rather a habit of mind, one of necessity being learned with care and, of great importance, being earnest in application, else a trivial comedy of error afflict a serious piece of prose, people.
All for the want of a horseshoe nail, and I mean that in earnest, Jack!