The trade-off between simplicity and precision

Have you encountered Wikipedia articles that are so complex that you have understood nothing about the topic you have looked up?

Here are a couple of wiki definitions I just looked up.

Immunity is the balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate biological defenses to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases.

In probability theory, conditional probability is a measure of the probability of an event occurring given that another event has (by assumption, presumption, assertion or evidence) occurred.

I think the second definition is good, but for those terms in the brackets. Those terms add precision to the definition, but they rob it of its simplicity.

Basic education is simple rather than precise. That is why we learn the law of Gravity from a middle school Physics textbook rather than from Newton’s Principia or an academic paper.

The mark of a good teacher is one who can simplify a complex topic. To simplify (and not oversimplify) is like juicing a papaya. The idea is to lose the details but to retain the essence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s