Simplistic? . . . or Simple

OK. So you’ve become an avid reader of this blog. Good. We appreciate it. But have you profited from any of the articles? Now, you don’t have to, you understand—we don’t want you working at it too hard. And some of it is more joshing around than it is instruction. But the former is usually attached to some point, and the latter may even be pretty heavy.

Though—it is a settled maxim with me that no matter how complex, how profound, how difficult to understand, it can be made intelligible. Indeed, I would go so far as to say simple. That which is simple is not necessarily simplistic. Simplicity often takes more effort to achieve than obfuscation. Some of us who have spend our entire writing and speaking lives working at simplicity will testify to that fact. So, when you hear someone say, “That’s simplistic,” pause and ask yourself “Is what he is commenting about really simplistic, or is his understanding of it so?”

Take a look at many college textbooks—what often makes them difficult to understand is not the subject matter, but the way in which the author writes about it. The verbosity of some, one can’t help but think, may be due to the desire of the author to extend the length of the book 1) to cause it to look more profound; 2) to sell it at a higher price in order to realize larger royalties.

Now, if you are an author, let me ask you to go through your writings and see if you can’t simplify them by using clearer, more precise language, buttressing the didactic with illustrative materials, shortening sentences, keeping to the active and avoiding the passive, etc. If you work hard at simplicity, some will not buy you, thinking (wrongly) that what you write is simplistic, but those who want to learn will bless you for it and even recommend your books to others.

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