The Power of the Phrase “It Turns Out…”

“Incidentally, am I alone in finding the expression ‘it turns out’ to be incredibly useful? It allows you to make swift, succinct, and authoritative connections between otherwise randomly unconnected statements without the trouble of explaining what your source or authority actually is. It’s great. It’s hugely better than its predecessors ‘I read somewhere that…’ or the craven ‘they say that…’ because it suggests not only that whatever flimsy bit of urban mythology you are passing on is actually based on brand new, ground breaking research, but that it’s research in which you yourself were intimately involved. But again, with no actual authority anywhere in sight.”

That’s from this interesting Hacker News thread about the rhetorical power of “it turns out.”

The post that sparked it is here, and the author discovers that Paul Graham is a particularly avid user of the phrase. The concluding logic:

Readers are simply more willing to tolerate a lightspeed jump from belief X to belief Y if the writer himself (a) seems taken aback by it and (b) acts as if they had no say in the matter—as though the situation simply unfolded that way. Which is precisely what the phrase “it turns out” accomplishes, and why it’s so useful in circumstances where you don’t have any substantive path from X to Y.

(thanks to Ramit Sethi for the pointer)

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