We can't understand complex ideas

We can't understand complex ideas

When learning new complex things, you must find out how to make the complex simple. I have no complex ideas. I have only been taught and learned how to break down complexity into a set of related simple ideas.

The obvious analogy here is Computer Science. Many people think they could never learn how to code and that it just doesn't mesh with their brain. But when you start to understand CS, you necessarily start to understand the importance of breaking down problems so that they become simple. You are not mastering the complex, but mastering converting the complex into the simple. When you solve a coding problem, you do so by turning it into many easily solvable sub-problems, because we all aren't actually smart enough to figure out the big and scary problem.

Those that we think of as intelligent don't understand complicated things. They see what we see as complicated as simple.

Almost everyone has the same amount of working memory to use — we can hold about 7 "chunks" in our mind at any given time. But what the complexity of a chunk, the amount of information in it, can differ. So some of us develop better "chunking abilities" than others. For example, the best chess players learn to see not only individual pieces, but collections of pieces in specific formations as a single unit or "chunk". This means that using the same amount of working memory, they can reason about far more complicated situations.

Can any big idea you have not be summed up in just 3 or 4 simple premises (even if those premises are truly made up of smaller ideas)?

(And maybe this is why Occam's Razor so often applies?)


All complicated ideas are just a connected set of simple ideas. Master the basics.


Feels pretty The Almanack of Naval Ravikant inspired Michael Nielsen on Long-Term Memory Systems

Related: We can't multi-task