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Monday, November 7, 2016

Over Simplifying

In a recent conversation, I heard myself offering an over-simplified explanation to a complex issue being discussed. Although I know better, sometimes it's hard to resist doing this. When was the last time you caught yourself over simplifying?  

Like many of us, I've got some favorites. For example, when conversations arise about inequality in our economic system, too often I seem to rely on the tired cliché that greed is the root of the problem. If I heard someone in the media making a pronouncement like this, I'd call them a dunce. And if someone I was conversing with over-simplified to this degree, I'd try to point out some nuances that person was overlooking. Though I sometimes react defensively, I appreciate when others care enough to do the same for me. How can any of us expect to get more sophisticated in our thinking if people don't point out our over simplifying?

It's possible we fall into this habit because the problems in our world can be overwhelming. I know at times I crave simple answers as a coping mechanism. In the end, over-simplifying is relatively harmless so long as I remember to re-visit the issue later when I'm better able to handle complexity.  


  1. I agree that it is generally harmless to oversimplify in the situations you describe in your post. What is not harmless is what is happening in the media and the dumbing down of the USA. People are no longer willing to engage in/with complex issues, recognize the complexity, have civil discussions and hopefully forge forward with some resolutions even if they are long term ones.

    1. Ines; As always, thanks for reading and your comment. I agree we seem to be in a dumbing down spiral. And though I try to be optimistic about this trend being reversed, I'm often discouraged by what I hear masquerading as civil discourse in the public arena.

  2. Not looking good for civil discourse or the nation right now. Very depressing and distressing....