Simple, Complex, Simple

I heard Ryan Holiday talk about a framework of thinking in a recent podcast that I find really valuable and widely applicable. It is a simple way of assessing if someone has acquired the necessary nuance to their point of view.

From Ryan Holiday -

I wanted to learn more about the civil war. And so this is been a metaphor for me. In school - What is the civil war about? It's about slavery. And then I read a bunch about the civil war, and you go to the battlefields, and read memoirs, and you go through this phase where you understand it wasn't just about slavery, it's really complicated. There are these people that have this motivation, and this motivation, and then there's this, and this other thing, and they can't all be bad people. But what about this angle? Then there's this weird discombobulating period where you're going through the wilderness, and you come out the other side having done the research, and what do you find? Low and behold it's not complicated at all, and that it was totally about slavery.

So that's a process that I've gone through on a bunch of different things over the years. Where you start with it being very simple, then you study it and it becomes very complex, and then you study it and it's very simple again. So it's hard to know when you're hearing about xyz, are they coming at it from phase-one simplicity, or phase-three simplicity? Did they go through that valley and come out the other side, and the simplicity is the result of a lot of synthesis and understanding, or is the simplicity coming from a place of ignorance, or worse, errogance? And I find that a lot of these people that have come to positions of influence and celebrity come at it from phase-one and not phase-three, and that's very dangerous.

Well said.