The doc string of * } says:
bq. When set to logical false, strings and characters will be printed with non-alphanumeric characters converted to the appropriate escape sequences.
This does not match how * } actually affects printing.
user=> (binding [*print-readably* false] (prn "\n" \newline))
user=> (binding [*print-readably* true] (prn "\n" \newline))
- When * } is false, a 'non-alphanumeric' character such as newline prints as an actual newline (ASCII character 0x0a), not an 'escape sequence'.
- When * is true, strings are wrapped in double quotes, and in both strings and characters some characters are printed as escape sequences.
The doc string also doesn't say how * might affect printing of other values, eg as with eduction. The purpose of the var is missing, namely printing for human versus machine consumers.