Re: Reading ranting grunting.

Anders Sandberg (
24 Sep 1997 10:05:49 +0200 writes:

> In a message dated 97-09-23 05:28:44 EDT, you write:
> << I'm convinced that it is true that if you cannot explain
> your field of study to an interested 10-year old, then you haven't
> understood it yourself. >
> I'll buy for a question? Suppose that **I'm** intereted in
> something and an >expert< in the field can't explain it to >me<. There
> seems to be only two possibilities....either I am less capable of
> understanding than a 10-year old....<so simple that only a child can
> understand it????> or that the >expert< is very much less of an
> expert...being unable to explain his subject to a college educated,...fairly
> widely read adult something which he SHOULD be able to explain to a child.

Usually it is the expert who is bad at explaining (in school we learn
how to listen to teachers but not how to teach others; I think we would
learn much more if the priorities were reversed). It is frightening
how many experts who cannot explain even the simplest aspects of
their fields; I have found it more enlightening to ask semi-experts
like graduate students than experts like professors in many fields.

Of course, my initial claim about being able to explain it to an
interested 10-year old has to be taken with a grain of salt. There
are some subjects which require a significant amount of mental
stretching to be able to fully understand (for example, multidimensional
geometry or some mysticism), and they may be beyond the pedagogic
capabilities of most experts. But most subjects can be described
at least in useful detail to an interested listener, given enough

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y