"The scientists are in terror / and the European mind stops"
"Sapere aude," said Horace. Kant used it as a slogan for the Enlightenment. It is generally taken as a call for courage in your investigations and reflections, to follow your ideas where they lead, to believe what you think is reasonable to believe based on the evidence and arguments you have encountered. These days, however, there are enormous pressures on scientists (of all kinds) to know particular things, regardless of where what Lisa Robertson calls "the motion of your own mind" is taking you. Scientists are not being encouraged to discover the truth, so much as join a cause. They are being asked to believe this or that important truth rather than ask questions and discover something new.
I think this has done a great deal of harm to our prose style. There is a big difference between describing known facts and subscribing to a common cause. Writing can be used for both, even very good writing. Political writing is not in and of itself a bad thing. The harm is done when a writer presents as fact something the writer does not know but knows only will win the favor of one or another establishment or foundation. That is, your style suffers when you are writing ostensibly "scientific" prose for political purposes. It doesn't actually matter what side you are on, nor even whether or not you are right, just that you are writing to position yourself on a side. You are not approaching the problem of writing facts down directly, but are introducing an additional concern, namely, "What will my allies think of my claim?"
To speak your mind plainly these days takes a measure of daring. Orthodoxies (and emerging heresies) are not at all shy about making their presence felt. Everyone who studies race, or gender, or geopolitics, or finance, or climate knows who their friends and, more importantly, their enemies are. Everyone knows that certain claims, no matter how well-evidenced or well-argued, will have negative consequences for their careers. Other claims will have positive consequences. Researchers are not at all wrong to have particular hopes for what their data will show, knowing full well what an effect or lack thereof in a particular direction will do for them professionally. They will not be praised simply for getting the facts right. They will be praised or censured according to which facts they discover.
This is itself a fact (if I'm right) about how knowledge is organized in our culture. It doesn't have to be that way, but powerful processes have made it this way and are keeping it this way for the time being. All academics must feel the pressure of these forces, though some perhaps more than others. I think many of the most common complaints about the style of academic writing can be traced back to these forces, which make us act by way of making statements of putative fact. I run into this problem again and again as a writing coach, when I realize that my advice to "write what you know" is actually at odds with the professional interests of the authors I work with. Or at least their perception of those interests. They simply don't believe that it will do them, or anyone else, any good to describe the facts plainly as they see them. Rather, they want to "write themselves into" one or another discourse.
My strategy here is to tell them that they'll need to "dare to know" the facts about these discourses too. They'll have to understand the powerful interests that shape their professional lives. It is possible, after all, to write strong, clear prose even when positioning yourself in the discourse community of your choice. Just write what you know about those discourses. Write what you know about the political situation of the science you are doing. Write to assert facts you know to be true in the interest of letting people discuss them. Whatever you do, please don't think your job is to write things you don't quite know as though you do (nor to write as though you don't quite know about things you do.) It will do bad things to your style.