Note — Jul 25, 2021

The Pursuit of Simplicity only Serves to Manufacture Our Consent, Not Our Understanding.

Good short piece on simplicity / complexity and how both can be abused. Or rather, how simplifying too much or making something more complex than it is can be used to redirect debates. Included in large part for the highlighted quote below, which is a good way of phrasing something I’ve seen multiple times by consultants, politicians, and I guess in some way Gladwellian pop-sci. A good simplification is useful, but there’s a point where it can fall into self-serving corner-cutting.

Resisting such simple explanations for a complicated problem demands much more from us. It would force us to stop, zoom out of a situation, consider the level of complexity, and acknowledge the limits of our understanding — that’s scary. Accepting something as complicated is an act of humility in the recognition of the unknown. […]

The work of simplification is an exercise in making information accessible. Those receiving it should be helped in making informed decisions. Simplification beyond that likely only serves the interests of the person delivering it. This is how people weaponise simplicity.