Housepets for 9/23/2011:
(Click on the image for a larger version.)
The author's chosen title for this strip is "An English major wrote this", and the mouseover title is a joke about a modern English major's stereotypical level of grammatical knowledge: "But what is an adverb? An adverb is any verb that describes an advertisement".
Many English majors know better — including, no doubt, Rick Griffin — but this is generally not because they've learned anything about the topic in their courses. The rest of them, along with those who majored in other subjects or avoided college altogether, are left mired in a state of "nervous cluelessness" about grammar and style. One source of this anxiety is acceptance of the dimly-remembered doctrine that adjectives and adverbs are Wrong and Bad, coupled with a disquieting uncertainty about what adjectives and adverbs really are.
A few discussions of modifier-phobia from our archives:
"Those who take the adjectives from the table", 2/18/2004.
"Modification as social anxiety", 5/16/2004
"The evolution of disornamentation", 2/21/2005
"Automated adverb hunting and why you don't need it", 3/5/2007
"Worthless grammar edicts from Harvard", 4/29/2010
[Tip of the hat to David Starner]