The Power to Make Things simple
A tip above, a world beneath
Making things simple is complicated! It requires both knowing the subject and knowing how the human mind works.
To show and speak plain and clear you need time and depth; like an iceberg - a quiet crystal peak above the waters, holds centuries of frozen storms underneath.
Fast simplification has wanting result. Like pressing square pegs into round holes. Like chopping a living being into its organs and stitching them back together to explain life. Like treating your audience as stupid.
Before making things simple for other people, the intricate must become limpid to us after a journey of making it our own. We must figure out a simple angle for looking at it. Our knowledge turns limpid by an art of – as Einstein said - forgetting everything we learned in schools; forgetting, not ignoring...
One’s deeper understanding forms subtle intellectual shapes and layers of words and representation. Yet, all this subtlety must remain your own concern; when you go out to do things among people better be as obvious as daylight. This shedding of light is a competence which requires particular understanding and know-how.
You make things simple when you bring people to understand them*.
For you, for me, to understand means to place something in accord with our reality as we live it; with the effect that it may become part of it, of our common sense reference and the "metaphors we live by". Understanding brings things within our minds’ direct reach, compatible and articulated with our existing representations and ways, so that the words become ours as we become qualified to use them**.
Nobody else can understand on your behalf or hand understanding over to you. Other people can explain to you but not understand for you. You are the only one who can grasp and figure, for yourself. You understand that which resounds in insights and metaphors familiar to your mind and in words, commonsense to you, which you are at ease to use. You understand when you exclaim: "Aha! I see! "; "So this is what it is!" "This is what it means for me", "This is how it works!".
The competence to trigger and scaffold someone else's course of understanding is a fine art. It gives one power to influence other peoples' views, judgement, decisions and actions. There is intrinsic value in making things simple because complexity - like all unfamiliar things - disquiets, threatens or stupefies and we all need to escape its uncertainty; instead, simplicity feels homely and practical.
Let me sketch the problem as it is felt: Much detail is foreseeable confusion... Too much analysis is paralysis... Accurate academic abstraction is an alien planet which we must believe on unverified trust... Plenty of choice is perplexity... Too many probabilities beat the mind... Multiple opinions spell conflict... Profuse words are suspect of ignorance and a will to mystify... Precise expert explanation is unnatural technical jargon made to deny us access to that knowledge and to keep us dependent on that expertise... Erudite abundance and subtlety feel like insult to those who do not grasp them... This is the humble psychology of complexity brought to people.
The exponential growth of science, technology and communication, floods us with complexity and loads of information far beyond the individual mind's capacity to embrace or check. Complication, abstraction, specialisation, like most unfamiliar things we do not understand, cause overload, uncertainty, insecurity and - worst - a sense of incompetence: Normal people, as I found, are lost in complication, distracted by diversity, startled by newness. They hate to decide - particularly among many choices - and are anxious to be exposed when they do not grasp.
A sense of "simplicity" opposed to this, makes one feel in control, apt to judge and to act; "plain" things are seen as elegant, obvious, transparent, reality itself; plainness gives a sense of natural comprehension. What you understood, you own. Or at least you trust. Judging oneself in command of understanding is a personal certifying bridge between that tiny but reassuring bubble of personal experience we have of the close, verifiable with our senses and all the rest of our reference about the World - that immensity of indirect, multitudes of knowledge interpreted by other people, which we learned from others, whose sources are distant or inaccessible, so that we obtain it exclusively by trust in the witnessing communication by others.
The one able to translate alien complexity into credible familiar simplicity has therefore power. And influence. And the responsibility of good faith.
When you represent things in understandable form, that is, in the universal language of common sense, you diminish uncertainty; this is the magic wand of the wise, provided it is not left to charismatic tyrants, populists, false prophets, illuminated ideologists, unscrupulous salespeople and other liars gifted to use and abuse the vulnerability of common sense.
Like all powerful tools, making things simple carries danger
In exchange of clarity and simpler choices that make them feel secure, people delegate, unbeknownst, part of their judgement and freedom.
We trust instinctively those who make us understand. We seek those who reduce our doubts as we trust those who made us believe. We follow those who show ends of tunnels and light in the dark. We entrust the clarifying minds to think for us and to define what things are, to explain how they are and what they mean, how the world is, what choices we have and thus, what we should do.
The subject understood, grows into the unquestioned fabric of our personal common sense view of the world. Inevitably, we trust our own understanding. That is the ultimate "fast" reference***, the basic beliefs we rely on, without re-verifying, in our daily life and in critical situations.
There is no stronger persuasion than causing people to understand: the map formed in our mind will direct - with its frames and references and short-cuts - what we think and what we do. Even when we do not like it. On top of this, what we came to know, we cannot un-know.
This could be the template of a universal rhetoric for the Twenty First Century. One inclusive of mental models, beyond mere words and arguments.
This is power indeed! And moral risk! When you make things simple you are responsible personally (and without ulterior control) of what you do in your interpretation. You induce values and actions. You have no excuse to hide behind the ethics-free authority of authorities: serving knowledge, general acceptance, methods, theories or instruments. You are not justified saying that it is Science, "Truth", objective reality, facts and figures for which you are merely a humble messenger. It is you, your interpretation and your advice, as competent, responsible and true as you. Making things simple has a moral flavour.
Making simple, transmutes knowledge into personal knowledge and seeds the knowing among persons, by means of the universal, yet intimately resonating Esperanto - or if you prefer lingua franca - of shared sense.
Making things simple is then a synonym of communication comprehensible and fit to be integrated and used at the receiving end; certainly, there is also the other great simplicity of the things themselves or the gift of mathematicians, artists, thinkers and spiritual masters to actually create simple, universal, elegant, economic, objects, visions and theories that give meaning to the world, but that simplicity is another subject of mastery, for another occasion.
For something to be simple to us, it helps to form an image of whence it came and where it goes. Thus, simple is for us that which appears transparent and makes sense to us; that which takes the size and shape of our mind, that which fits into the coherent whole of what is already there, which we can put our arms around; which is not coming from nowhere, out of our reach and beyond our attention span; which we can behold with our eyes, our ears, our hands, with our imagining, our favourite metaphors, with our common places; something which feels within plausible means, intelligible, doable, practical. At the core, it is something which fits the routines of our body and mind.
Making things simple (without falsifying them) can generate wisdom, because the receiving persons feel able to judge critically, with their own mind. They are empowered to make sense and use of things from their point of view and in their perceived best interest. They can own what they know and hence they are put in the "locus of control" of their world, confident to chose and navigate in the world..
This is the opposite of explaining things as complicated as they are, or even more complicated and opaque, beyond a lay person's possible understanding, so that no free decision is possible, no real choice or vote, except to trust and submit to the witnessing authority and the formal intelligence of the scientist, the reduction of the theorist, the mechanic algorithms of computers, the tool-kit of the technician - all of them delegated alone to reveal and decide what exists and what not, what is the real sense of things and what is good for us.
It is misleading to believe that things are complicated when they are many and simple when they are few. Some can have many parts and be simple or few parts and be too unusual, out of reach, too deep, too alien, too complicated, just too difficult to grasp:
The sand of the beach with its myriads of grains, the starry sky, are simple (for us); driving your car is simple if you did it for a while and do not need to lift the hood. Familiar things grow simple, the old grows simple but everything new is so complicated!
The bike or the horse you ride for the first time, the new can opener, writing an important letter, first time of making love, your first baby are complicated and intimidating, to boil an egg or to "set up" a computer is complicated if you do not know how; remember how hard it was to learn the letters of the alphabet. In the alien country everything is confusing, because you miss the language and the mores.
The most complex thing that counts for us is change when it is "something else"; the not yet known, the surprising, the unknown are uncertain and complicated, with too many unforeseen possibilities. Taking things with fatalism, as they will come, may be a simple response, but foreseeing what may happen is complex work for the mind.
Making things simple is work for respectful travellers across boundaries
If you want to use the power to make things simple, discern how different it is from vulgarisation and baby talk; making simple conveys faithfully, at your best, the essence of the original structure and meaning in understandable language, representation and inspired examples, while vulgarising (and even rationalistic reductionism) omits parts, abstracts, distorts and dumbs down “for the ignorant” to a lower level; for such simplifiers, keeping simple means keeping stupid. The attitude is radically different, respect against looking down at people.
Making things simple is a translator’s work. It consists in devising occasions of understanding for other people. For this, you lift ideas, references, explanations, narratives, things... from one frame and fit them into another frame - that of the people you want to inform, move and help; their frame. (Imagine this word, "frame" like an actual frame of a painting; you need to fix and delimit the picture in a local frame, meaningful and receivable to your target public).
While rendering in a new frame, you translate and interpret from one language to another, from literary into vernacular, from one point of view (or even world-view) to another, one context, frame of reference and set of references, level of abstraction and occasion to another, from one image to another, one paradigm to another, from one culture to another, from one understanding and sensibility to another, and sometimes even from one truth to another. Deeper, your work is to discern and use the "meme"**** the idea or structure of meaning viable to spread into other minds; once understood, you become able to formulate it in many languages and various levels of complication or simplicity.
That which you understood, you convey avoiding the too many of words - following the old precept of Occam's Razor***** - the law of succinctness. This law of parsimony advises to chose the interpretation with fewer components, to use the minimal number of assumptions necessary, but in no way less than the explanations necessary to represent truly.
As for any form of translation, you must master the two languages, and be aware of what you do; imagine someone who only knows the language from which he wants to translate, not the target language; or imagine a book translated by someone who does not understand it; imagine a book simplified in translation – that is the difference between making things understandable and vulgarising them for people considered too silly to comprehend. Traduttore traditore.
To make things simple, you do not scorn your public, on the contrary, you respect people, you have empathy and patience; it does not help to shout louder from your ivory tower to those people you do not know or understand or care for. They hear very well, maybe better than you; it's just that you do not make sense to their local world.
Those who give signs - irritated, superior, knowing and impatient - that they cannot stand ignorance and incompetence – the very reason why people need things to be re-presented to them, the reason they need your help – cannot be advisors and teachers; or they will be poor ones. 
The dark side of the power to make things simple is falsifying them simple, lying that they are simple when they are not. The worst is when the plausible simplicity conceals manipulation. That is the mark of the false prophets, tyrants, unscrupulous ideologists, the crooks and the fanatics of all kinds.
The stooges and zealots educated and armed with such simplism are the people with the hammer, for whom absolutely everything looks like a nail.
Totalitarians lie things simple to reduce them to their unique fixed idea.
The most evil and stupid of social orders - be they tyrannical or technology driven - go beyond presenting complexity and variety as simple and all the same; they proceed to simplify social reality itself and to force all people receiving their lies to become simple and all the same in a world with minimal mechanic choice. They reduce the language to stereotypes, common places, political correctness, pretending that they make it democratic and accessible to all. They submit the human behaviours to simplified requirements of machines instead of adapting machines to people.
This neighbourhood of deception and delusion keeps the art of making things simple always on the brink of cheating.
Knowledge is grounded with measurement, reason, proof and fact; the metaphors and examples easing its understanding - the commonsense understanding of the selfsame true knowledge - are based on obviousness and confidence and have only as guardians, your competence and sincerity. The tool is as good as you.
The enemies of making things simple are many:
The first is, I think, plain ignorant stupidity, unable to discern what is significant and what not; missing meaning in a wider frame, neglecting the importance of choices, causes and consequences; to make something simple for other people you must first make good sense of it for yourself and additionally perceive differences in point of view.
The second enemy is an inclination to pretend that you know when you don't. The licence-to-make-things-simple should be strictly denied to those who are shy to say “I do not know.”
The strangest enemy of intuitive simplicity is, sadly, not stupidity, nor ignorance, but scrupulous knowledge, the cult of truth and fact as it is “in itself”, born from meticulous expertise and an intransigent scientific training; scores of excellent specialists suffer from never having learned or understood that knowing with precision and applying their expertise is one profession, while transferring expertise and helping people to understand what they do is a completely different action-role serving human interest– to be played by the same expert – with different rules and different aims adapted to dissimilar situations. Some of the best minds never learn to "think people".
Curiously, others, highly gifted and educated, but who lack a talent of understanding the here-and-now prove to act quite stupid when it comes to making things simple; by neglect and misfit with the people and circumstances they address. Causing humans to understand is not a mechanic “process” of explanation one could copyright, multiply like software and sell in a box. Let the post-humanist AI dream of that.
Making simple - as close to art as it is - is not a mystery trick either, like cracking your fingers or wielding a magic wand but a constant attitude and an effort - conscious work led by a steady strategy of wisdom. Those gifted to talk content-free with a charming air of being simple but with no real knowledge to give, may cheat people but only produce confusion, not understanding.
Your mental orientation in making things simple is not to change truth but to find or to give to everything a human and local meaning, to put the human person you address in the centre of the Universe. You make things simple because you are intent to put everything humanity creates, as means in the service of human beings, instead of allowing the opposite - humans becoming means, slaves and victims of their own creations.
Making things simple is a rhetoric – intuitive, convincing discourse (with words and many other means) addressed to intuitive reasoning.
You foster comprehension with pointing to present example, to metaphor, stories, myth, narration; such means are meant to be graphic, "representable", understood, not believed. You do not want people to believe your metaphors; you want them to understand them and to understand new things by means of them.
Metaphors do not explain, they only give shape or body to a subject. That shape must appear familiar. Ideally it will be a common place, something already received and accepted, obvious to your public.
To take a simplest of examples: one sunny day I was driven in taxi trough endless green pastures in Ireland. The driver, learning that I worked for the second biggest computer company of the world, then famous Digital Equipment, asked me:
- I always wonder. How is it possible to put all these things with such complicated shapes into a plain machine that only knows “yes” and “no”? I cannot figure this.
- You know, I said, it is like needlework, you have just two needles and a thread. With them you give to the thread of wool a form of pullover in any shape you need; and you can crochet into it quotes from Shakespeare.
Observe the difference between lying that computing is simple like needlework and using a visual image that satisfied the need of representation this man had.
Naked truth is not simplicity.
To use the power, do not confuse simplicity with precision either. In fact, precision is not even truth, it's just facts. Precision is intricate, built on expert analysis with sophisticated instruments, advanced knowledge, distinctions and subtle jargon known to few. Precision looks simple only to the expert. If you want to confuse people without fail, flood them with all the rigorously precise information and facts you know.
A strange sort of truth is that which is not understood. Could it be deliberate obfuscation?
For living people, truth requires some familiar shape. “Precision is not truth” as Matisse the great painter wrote so resoundingly . Art – that lie created to tell the truth  – has the power of making people understand, make theirs that which counts, instead of snowing people with details. Quality simplification needs not be precise but must be – let me repeat – honest and intelligent; you explain loyally what you understood, not what you didn't. It must also be inspired; making things understandable is talent, an art, not science.
I hope I repeated this sufficiently to make my point: to make complex reality simple you do not measure it better, count it better, analyse it better or describe it more strictly; what you do is to interpret it from a human angle, with us as a measure of all things, to create a familiar representation that will organize it with intuitive meaning, formulate it in household terms, from the person’s point of view at the centre.
You do not start from what you explain, but from where the people's mind is.
Simple is not that which is true, rational, factual or perfect but that which is analogous and consistent to what we know; because it is similar it fits the mind; because it fits the mind it makes sense; because it makes sense is accepted. Because it is taken possession, it will have effect and it will be used.
To make things simple you point, you use familiar image and concrete examples; you summon likeness and experiences and words people know already, use them as comparisons and by their means you advance towards that which is yet unknown.
Observe that you do not make things simple in general, but for specific persons, often here and now. To do this, empathy has no replacement; you must imagine yourself in the other’s place.
For this reason, you do not start a good explanation from a distant subject to describe it to the people down here; you start from the people present (from where they are now), you take them with you and explore with them the subject up there: and you do it in their own words and examples.
"Words do not make a man understand;
You must get the man to understand them." [3a]
This is the secret formula from the grimoire of masterful teaching.
Making things simple follows a mastery curve; from innocent superficiality to wise simplicity:
First you know so little that things look simple to you. Ignorance sees things simple grasping only what meets the eye. This is false simplicity.
As you learn, things become extremely complicated and your mind is falling to the cult of precision and completeness; to explain, you must tell everything. The map grows as large as the territory . Erudition discovers and knows successively the bitter-sweet despair of never-ending complication. Now, simplicity is impossible.
Finally, there is this sudden moment of bliss when "Aha!" everything falls in place and things are simple again but in a new way. Now you see form and order, coherence in complication, symmetry in chaos. You see the few things that count. You may even glimpse from where things come and where they go. Understanding crystallizes the essential, in a clear form and in your own words, coming naturally; now you got the power. You are ready for making things simple.
This new gift emerges after you forgot everything you learned “in school”, as Einstein wrote .
By then, you replaced remembering with understanding. Instead of sleeping in you, your knowledge became you. Now you find Boileau, the poet, to be right: "Ce que l'on conçoit bien s'énonce clairement / Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément."[5a]
You make things simple to understand, but also simpler to live with; to choose and to decide – to act.
When people find things too complicated to do something, making things simple means showing what and how they can, and better, proving that they can by showing them how to do; or even what to do.
Beyond understandable words and image, the way to make simple is to show and do interactively, ideally by doing things together until they succeed; one meaningful image is worth – we know - a thousand words; but showing how and doing things together is worth a thousand images. Indeed , you understand a thing when you try, and even more when you succeed to change it. This is another old secret of learning by means of apprenticeship with a master now depreciated by cheap mass schooling.
You made things simple indeed when you helped people see them, feel them, represent them, try them out and do them across error and success.
As I used to explain many years ago , to experts needing to become consultants, this is the advisor’s haiku of making things simple:
“A good specialist can explain with precision.
He can explain things as complicated as they exactly are.
A good consultant can explain with simplicity.
He can explain how doable things are."
While you listen to an expert who "explains" a problem, the normal urge is to delegate it back to the specialist: “Do it for me, it is too complicated!” Instead, the true consultant will leave you able to do it yourself.
My father, a university professor in “electronics and automation,” used to speak to me like a honest expert. May he rest in peace! I would ask him to help me solve some mathematics problem for the next day in school; but he, the uncompromising intellectual, needed to explain first the foundation of mathematics. This is probably why I became a psychologist, a TV journalist and a teacher and, finally, a consultant and who I am now, anything but an engineer. On reflection, I wrote this essay to honour my Father; to dialogue with him once more and thus, to keep him for another instant in the Book of Life.
To make things simple you find, or, if needed, you invent with fantasy, landmarks, shoulders of giants, fulcrums for the lever of comprehension  on which our mind leans to move its world.
You scaffold and organise. You build steps and ladders. When you want to make things simple in deliberation among many choices, you do present the variety, with pros and cons, but you do propose one or two relevant directions, judiciously, for the decider to choose responsibly; and you advise one if you bear to take risk.
As I love to jest, Tenner's one-way principle is simple: there are many ways, but to walk you must take one.
There is infinity of directions around us, too many for mind to embrace; to make things simple you use a few cardinal points – North, South, East and West, Up-skywards and Down-where things fall.
As we humans are familiar with our symmetries, to make things simple find symmetry; or lay things down in some symmetric form easier to grasp and remember.
To make things simple, discern forms. Think shapes. Find or sketch Gestalt. If you look at complication you often see that it has some shape; use that shape to help understanding.
Complexity is not born counted but you can count it and group it, mind size: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9... that is a normal span for human attention, not more. Threesomes and foursomes - which I like so much to use - organise complication or the unknown; they do not reflect or "know" complexity, but order it. They only project temporary order into complexity to make sense for people; then, after using them, you leave them aside as you do with a tool, only used when needed; you do not carry them forever, nor, heaven forbid, start to believe in them because they used to work.
Making things simple is work for the wise.
You learn to ask spontaneously in your mind the simple but deep questions:
“What is really important, of value, in this fact or knowledge or situation and what is not, but seems so?”,
“What does this really mean for me; and for this other person or for this community? How does this count for people? Does this make a difference? In which way?”,
“What does this remind me? What does this look like?”
“Did I see something similar before? What did happen then, what did I learn which counts now?”
“Does this have a shape? Is there some order in this, a pattern, a Gestalt, something necessary? It seems to lead somewhere? Can I put some form, some order in it? Can I give a meaning that is useful to this disorder? What would be a good name for this, how to call it?”
“Should we observe this or better let it pass, touch it or leave it alone? Can we do something about it, can someone else, or is it better to stop worrying, as we cannot influence it?”
If I understood all this, (and many more of the same style), if I look at the world like this, in this complicated way, I am closer to make things simple for other people. Then since I have something to say other than chatter, it is worth learning how to communicate with an effect.
How to make things simple to understand: a cycle
If you apply the few principles above, making things simple appears, as you advance, like a cycle, the turning of a small wheel made of words, pointing, metaphors, listening and actions. The cycle is made of things you do and things you do not do:
1. Keep silent often and observe, to understand the environment and the occasion. Ask and listen, do not interrupt, to find out what people know, the words they are familiar with, the references they trust and understand. In this way you will know “where their mind is” and of what it is made - the first condition when you want to change that mind, as you mast start from where they are, not from where you, the knowing one, are.
2. Repeat to keep interpretation fool-proof. Avoid surprise - it is confusing - or if you must surprise with newness take time for the surprise-state to cool down. Start by saying what you will say to create focus and proper expectation; then say or show that which you want to make simple; encourage questions to understand what was not understood; ask if you can to be explained back what you said; end by saying again what you said. The ultimate proof of success is when your public starts using, altering, contradicting - in short doing things because they now own them.
3. Learn to teach. If that is practical, encourage people to learn from themselves, to put their heads together and explain and show each other what they know and do. Let them ask you to help instead of pushing your knowledge: let the guest ask for the salt. Help prepare the stone soup, like in the well known story. If needed you will add your grain of salt and turn the brew with the spoon at the right moments. If needed you will add things they do not know, without boring everybody with basics. It may even happen that you don’t need to speak at all and people appear to do things by themselves.
4. When there is good reason for you to explain and teach, remember that you cannot drag the people to the words, you must bring the words to the people. Present the new things in old words. Speak in what you found to be their own terms, pointing at examples, images, and common places you found them to be accustomed with. Present things starting from their point of view, not yours and not from the ivory-tower point of view of the “domain”. If you work well, your unaware apprentices will say “we knew it all the time.”
5. No Three Letter Abbreviations, no jargon!
6. Be short, as short as useful and as simple as possible but not simpler than that; 3, 7, 9 are not only symbolic figures they are also amounts fit to the attention span and the human memory.
7. Remember to serve your simple soup of explanation not only tasty but hot, in a large bowl, provide redundancy and time and let people serve themselves with their ladles; do not try to feed them with a funnel: you can take the horse to the water but you cannot make him drink. Accept that some of your precious brew will be spilt or will get cold and wasted.
8. As I explained, use metaphor and stories – they make people understand new, unknown things in terms of what they know and they advance by the intuitive logic of narration. Equivalent with metaphor are example, gesture, demonstrative action and showing how to do or how to refrain from doing.
9. Pull, don’t push. Instead of telling people what they must understand and do, offer suggestive example and let them chose; say “this reminds me of...”
10. The most powerful audio-visual tool is the finger that points.
11. When it comes to decisions and action counsel top-down, from what to do towards why to do it; from the essential conclusion to the proofs.
The discourse of action is strikingly different from the discourse of science; it is a rhetoric, not logical induction or deduction.
Do not start as researchers do with many facts, explanations, justifications and proofs, to finish in the tired end with a conclusion, finally followed by some proposal; on the opposite, start with your advice what to do, when, for what purpose and value expected, and then, as needed, give more and more required causes, proofs, arguments, explanations and data as requested by mainstream “critical thinking”.
Let people know with what observable outcome and benefit they should act and with what disadvantage or danger is that thing is not done. Knowledge that makes sense is for the benefit of people.
Always end with the first next step to do.
While you do all these laborious things, relax with a pinch of humor, do not forget the bold poetry of Saint Ephrem the Syrian : "Because it does things easily, simplicity resembles God who easily creates everything."
© 2011, 2012, 2015 Ioan Tenner & Daniel Tenner
Notes and references:
* There is no such thing as "making things simple in general", or "objectively. Simplicity is in the living person's mind, relative to a person's existing or to a group's shared knowledge; perceived and felt, not formally analysed. "Simple" means that it makes good common sense here and now, for these people, in this context, with this purpose. Simplicity is by our personal measure. Universal simplicity is a machine-dream. (It is true though that proper knowledge also includes becoming acquainted with the "thing", as it is, represented in its context of origin and measure).
** Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus(1922) : "4.021 A proposition is a picture of reality: for if I understand a proposition, I know the situation that it represents...."
*** John Kekes, A New Defence of Common Sense, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Apr., 1979), pp. 115-122
****See for example Chesterman, Andrew, Memes of translation : the spread of ideas in translation theory, John Benjamins Publishing Co., Amsterdam.., 1997 , the original idea coming as it is widely known from Richard Dawkins' "Selfish Gene" (1976)
***** Spade, Paul Vincent, The Cambridge Companion to Ockham, Cambridge U.P., Cambridge, 2006
 ”Persons allergic to incompetence cannot be consultants.” In: Tenner I., The Consulting Difference, Digital Equipment Europe, Geneva, 1986
 Precision is not truth. Henri E. B. Matisse, 1947 "L'exactitude n'est pas la vérité" "Exactitude is not truth" essay in which he wrote: "...to sum up observations that I have been making for many years on the characteristics of a drawing, characteristics that do not depend on the exact copying of natural forms, or on the patient assembling of exact details, but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects which he has chosen, on which his attention is focused, and the spirit of which he has penetrated..." "... Thus there is an inherent truth which must be disengaged from the outward appearance of the object to be represented. this is the only truth that matters." From an essay written in May 1947 in the catalogue of an exhibition of Matisse's drawings in Liège cf Henri Matisse, Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Organized in Collaboration with he Artist, Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition catalogue 3 April-9 May 1948, pp 33-34
Cf Chipp HB, Seltz PH, Theories of modern art, Univ of California Press, Berkeley…, 1968 p. 138
 Pablo Picasso: “Art is lies that tell the truth.” "Nous savons tous que l'art n'est pas la vérité. L’art est un mensonge qui nous fait comprendre la vérité, du moins la vérité qu’il nous est donne de pouvoir comprendre.. » From an interview by Marius de Zayas, "Picasso speaks", The Arts(New York), vol. iii no 5, may 1923. p. 315-326 tr. into French by D. Collins in: Bernadac M-L, Michael A., éd. PICASSO, Propos sur l’art, Gallimard, Paris, 1998, p.17
[3a] Zenrinkushu, in Blyth R.,H., HAIKU Vol. 1, Eastern Culture, Hokuseido, Tokyo, 1981, p. 24
 Borges: “. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.” On Exactitude in Science, Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658, From Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, Translated by Andrew Hurley Copyright Penguin, 1999.
 Albert Einstein: "Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything he learned in school." Albert Einstein, Out of my later years. [Essays], PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY, NEW YORK 1950 p 36
[5a] Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux De L'Art poétique (1674) Canto I, l. 153. :
"Whatever is well conceived is clearly said,
And the words to say it flow with ease."
 Archimedes; “Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.” The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, London, 1953, p. 14.
 cf Kees den Biesen, Simple and Bold - Ephrem's Art of Symbolic Thought, Gorgias Press, New Jersey, 2006