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drax0r DS9

The Lightbulb Moment

Posted on 2013.11.18 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
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I have had the following conversation twice now - with two different people, at two different times - both at the tail end of a heated discussion where I've been accused of always over-complicating everything. I typically offer the following as a refutation of their perspective, but as you can see, I have been completely out-matched both times:

"I can admit that I have a tendency to sometimes over-think things and present them in a far more complex manner than is necessary, which is why we have these discussions - I'm not infallible. That said, is it possible - just possible - that you may occasionally over-simplify complex things?"

"No. Not ever."


raingirl26 at 2013-11-18 07:30 (UTC) (Link)
oh, you left the door wide open for that response, didn't you.
ehowton at 2013-11-18 15:36 (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, I never suspect egomaniacal asininity as anyone's honest response. I suppose we'll chalk that up to my own shortcoming. I mean, when you ask someone a question, although entirely accurate they almost never say, "My answer was based purely upon an emotional reaction fueled by my god-complex and an immutable worldview."

Live and learn.
raingirl26 at 2013-11-24 04:25 (UTC) (Link)
oh in writing it just looked like such a tongue in cheek response. if they were serious then i see your quandry/point/analysis. i live with punsters and so to see an over-simplified response to your question about just that seemed, well, humorous.

dare i ask why you are attempting to have a real conversation with people who would respond like that seriously?
ehowton at 2014-03-26 00:03 (UTC) (Link)
dare i ask why you are attempting to have a real conversation with people who would respond like that seriously?

One was during a political debate, the other out of martial necessity. Sadly, neither ended well.
michelle1963 at 2013-11-18 13:08 (UTC) (Link)
A rational person allows for the possibility of his own infallibility - even if he doesn't believe it is true in that particular discussion. Admission of the possibility allows for further discussion, a chance for mutual understanding. Total denial does not.

Not only is the assertion of their own perfection irrational, so is the lack of desire to deal with the issue at hand by shutting down the conversation.

The only concern the people with whom you had these discussions was winning.

Thanks for providing the "quick test" for irrationality. I hope I don't ever need it.
ehowton at 2013-11-18 15:46 (UTC) (Link)
Excellent point - a litmus test of sorts to weed out the egomanical before any bond can be formed.
dentin at 2013-11-19 19:39 (UTC) (Link)
One of the things I've started to really notice in the last few years is that people overcomplicate things as often than they simplify things, usually due to insufficient mental rigor. (Although I have seen people intentionally do it so as to inject sufficient uncertainty into the argument that they could declare 'but there's a chance' to save face. I usually want to punch these people.)

As an example, imagine you're trying to clarify a specific technical detail in how ifconfig works, when the other party suddenly changes the topic to ifup scripts. The worst part of this is that they don't seem to realize it's a topic change - "well ifup does stuff with network interfaces, and so does ifconfig, so it's not off topic".

The thing about complicated topics isn't that they're naturally difficult. It's that you have to be very methodical and precise about how you peel off the layers of complexity and isolate the pieces that can be isolated. For some reason, being precise about simplification is very hard for a lot of people.

Is it possible that this, and the over simplification you described above, are two sides of the same coin? Eg:

- oversimplification comes from simplifying a complex problem incorrectly and throwing away things that matter

- overcomplication comes from simplifying a complex problem incorrectly and keeping things that don't matter
ehowton at 2013-11-19 20:42 (UTC) (Link)
Is it possible that this, and the over simplification you described above, are two sides of the same coin?

Were you and I conversing, surely. drax0r and I used to add and pare often during our distillation process. If either of us said to the other, "Here is why I think you are over[complicating,simplifying] this," the reply wouldn't be to call bullshit or roll our eyes in exasperation - or worse, say, "you just don't understand" - we'd asses the data, ask for clarification if necessary, and attempt to compensate.

Looking back to my post Simplifying Complexity I came to the conclusion that those who don't want to challenge their perspective are more likely to do one (or both) of the above more or less for the reason you stated, to "win" rather than to communicate.
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