Why are simple explanations rare?

Have you had the feeling, that when somebody explains a concept to you verbally, you understand it more easily than if you read about it, say, in Wikipedia?

Why is that the case? Why are our verbal explanations more accessible than their written counterparts?

Back in primary school, we were all taught that gravity is a force of attraction between all things that have mass. The more accurate definition for gravity is provided by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. It describes gravity ‘not as a force, but as a consequence of masses moving along geodesic lines in a curved spacetime caused by the uneven distribution of mass.’

If you had given me the more accurate definition of gravity in school, I would not have been able to understand it – I still don’t for the most part. Therefore, calling gravity as a force is an error in the purest sense. But that error is necessary to make its explanation accessible.

Simple explanations are rare, more so in the written medium, because some expert or the other is always trying to error-proof it. Yet, a certain degree of error is a feature, not a bug. Good teachers will do well to leave it in rather than eliminate it.

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