Bored by Simple. Infatuated by Complexity

Humanity’s perception: Complexity > Simplicity

We are bored with the known; we seek to expand. We think there must be more than what is.

We create mountains out of mole hills.

Instead of targeting simple, we complicate. We overarchitect. We see a giant “to do” list in order to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.

Legal. Accounting. Politics. Finance. There are many rules, regulations, policies, and procedures which require experts. This isn’t because an expert should be required, but because we have made it convoluted.

For example, taxation. What if doing our taxes could be reduced to 20 minutes whereby we fill out a quick questionnaire and a couple other short tasks? Or when was the last time you filled out a form on a government website?

Complexity is not isolated to government framework and programs, either. We, in the private sector, also create plenty of our own! Just use your own imagination — actually, that’s likely what created complexity in the first place.

Complexity is also a form of protecting the status quo. If you’re an incumbent, adding rules and requirements helps you. It creates a hedge or moat around you. It’s great as it reduces the number of newcomers.

But complexity and a lack of transparency is also fertile ground for charlatans and crooks. When a sea of information swirls about, how do we have the time to investigate and use our own minds to work through the problems?

  • “Nah, I don’t have time. She/he seems like a good person.”
  • “They’re at a reputable firm.”
  • “My [friend/brother-in-law/cousin/coworker] has used them for five years and they get along.”

When others have turned a mole hill into a mountain, we lose.


Ockham’s Razor

“Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity” — William of Ockham

Ockham was a 13th century Franciscan friar and philosopher. His point was this: when you can choose between simple or complex, choose simple.

Another, more modern, way of phrasing would be “other things being equal, simpler explanations are generally better than more complex ones.”

Simple is relatively easy to test, quicker to comprehend, and rely on fewer inferences — all of which could lead you down the wrong path.


Hence, when we want to understand something, it’s usually best to go for the simple answer. When we create or construct, it’s best to go for simple, too. In the same vein of creating a simple user interface, why not permeate that thinking in the rest of our lives? Why create environments for thievery and mischievousness to thrive? And, for goodness’ sake, when your tax accountant tells you how much you owe the government or them, ask them why. And then ask them again until you understand. Don’t be seduced by complexity.

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