As a task at my university, I am proofreading and commenting on an academic paper of my groupmate. I came across the word combination "damning problem" in the following context:
The most damning problem within the model is...
I am wondering whether the word "damning" is formal enough to write it in an academic paper. According to a number of online dictionaries, it has quite a usual meaning:
(of evidence or a report) suggesting very strongly that someone is guilty of a crime or has made a serious mistake
However, my search in the context brought me to some newspaper articles that, I imagine, could use strong colloquial expressions, and self-development books. Besides, it sounds to me like a curse "damn". All in all, the paper that I am annotating is mistakenly written in a rather informal way. This fact makes me suspicious about even slightly informal expressions.
Since I am not a native speaker, I would like to ask for the help of the ELL community. Is the expression "a damning problem" neutral enough to use it in an academic context?