The simplification trap

Paul Ingraham

Tricky little problem: a good summary of a complex topic can make readers overestimate their comprehension. “Oh, I’ve got it now! Case closed.” Listen to the story on the BBC, a few minutes.

And probably this summary of the problem with summaries is making you overconfident in your knowledge of the problem with summaries right now.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in a decade of intensive science reporting it’s that science is immune to dumbing down: everything is the tip of the iceberg, the fin of the shark, that one fossil poking out of the ridge. Tug on any thread in science and you find another whole damn wardrobe.

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