On my journey towards success, fulfilment, and most importantly, happiness, I realised something that made me wonder. I started to interact and socialise with people, which I considered having achieved my ambitions.
As I was interacting with them I noticed that they always had a simple worldview and very simple reasoning about things.
It was primarily in two areas I noticed this simple reasoning. First, talking about why specific people failed. Second, when they were analysing complex systems.
For example, if someone didn’t manage a delivery of something important. He would simply be judged as a quitter, or that he didn’t burn enough for succeeding. Or, if analysing a complex system, just using a simple model to analyse cause and effect.
I didn’t see it quite as simple as them, but on the other hand, they had achieved what I was struggling to become. Maybe that was part of the secret key.
I knew I needed to change my behaviour to expect a new outcome.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result – Albert Einstein
Well, I started to look into the simple reasoning and if there is some grounds behind it.
1. Physical science becomes simpler and simpler
I know, I used to say the same as you. I do not understand anything of modern physics. But let me explain how it is simplified over time.
If you can’t explain it simple, you don’t understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein.
Empedocles (c. 490 – c. 430 BC) claimed everything was made out of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The theory was simple, only based on four elements, but couldn’t predict anything and was in that sense useless.
Newton (1642 – 1726) made an even simpler theory of gravity, that object attract each other, the bigger the more attracting. That single theory pretty much predicts all moving bodies that the naked eye can observe. The consequences of the formula are far beyond what one could imagine. But it is based on one single formula.
Rømer (1644 – 1710) discovered that the speed of light was fixed. This is not in line with Newton law of gravity, which predicts all objects to move in speed relative to each other. Experiments showed that the speed of light was fixed no matter how you, the observer, moved, which is in contradiction to the Newtonian theory.
Einstein (1879 – 1955) then unify it with the general relativity theory of gravity. The claim is, that all moving observers see the light of speed the same as well as the Newtons theory of gravity. Einstein took two things that did not fit together and unified them in one simple theory.
Today, the big goal is to find a single theory that unifies the force of general relativity theory with the 3 forces of quantum field theory. The ultimate goal is to find one single force to describe them all together. The theory of everything.
Note, it is not necessary to understand the above, the key thing is, that the same complex world is explained and predicted in deeper detail with a simpler theory.
How does that help your reasoning. Well, with physics, the complex world is all dependent on something simple, even though it seems complex. The key is to understand how it fits together.
Of course, this is not a proof that simple reasoning is the correct way to think about anything. But it tells you a very complex world can be explained and predicted with simple reasoning.
The next one might tell you there is a rational reason to make simple reasoning.
2. Simple reasoning keeps you accountable for your actions
We humans always try to make sense out of everything. Sometimes our reasoning is correct, other times not. Just a fast glance of the history, we used to believe the earth was flat, do I need to say anything more?
We observe things and make sense of it, but sometimes we go into false conclusions and never question it again.
If you, like I used to, was failing at all things I wanted to be. Say, I finished my education and started working. But I wasn’t successful. I saw others, less educated than me becoming more influential and successful than I was.
Then let us try to see the consequences of a simple and complex reasoning. Here are presented two models, I do not say any of them are true, this is just to explain the difference between simple and complex reasoning.
Model 1. The Simple Reasoning Model. You are responsible for your outcomes.
That hurts. If I fail every day, I have only me to blame.
Model 2. The Complex Reasoning Model. You have excuse…, excuse…, excuse…
I fail because I had a though upbringing. Because I was not lucky. Because [enter whatever excuse you want].
You see the problem. The simple reasoning model makes you accountable for all your failures, and that is not fun. The complex reasoning model is easier on you, because you have an excuse for not achieving your goal.
But notice this. The simple also tells you to do something about. The complex doesn’t really give you any control over the outcomes, does it?
You see, complexity can pacify you, as it is not your fault. Simplicity can direct all responsibility on your shoulders, but gives you the answer to where the change needs to be.
3. Complexity never ends
Another thing to notice in the complex model, is that it never ends. What do I mean.
Take physics, when it was discovered that light had a fixed speed, which did not fit the current Newtonian view, they added or tired to add complex theories of Ether to explain it. Scientists discovered that it didn’t fit observations, which went towards further complex possible speculations.
We humans have a tendency to love our own theories and only look for evidence that fit our reasonings or hypothesis. Luckily, scientists are more objective and they needed to reject the theory of Ether and find a better theory.
If you make a reasoning of something. Then if something doesn’t match your current reasoning, then you can add a special case in your reasoning. But as you can see, this can continue forever.
Take me in my late teenage years, well, I explained my lack of success in life that others were just born under better circumstances. Good, stable, loving, and supporting parents. Even though my grades in high school were not good, I decided to go to college anyways.
There I met a fellow student. His mother died when he was 6 years old and his father brought him up. That didn’t seem to affect him in any way. He was more confident, less introverted, and more comfortable than me in any situation I observed him in.
I couldn’t really convince myself, that his life had been easier than mine. I was convinced, he must have had a great caring farther, or gotten some psychological help. Hence, I added that to my reasoning.
But it turned out I was wrong. His father did not do well after the death of his wife, there was no professional help, hence, life just terrible during his childhood and upbringing.
How could that be? Well, I needed to add a reason for his success and my failure. I tried to reason that my experiences were just harder than his. Of course, there was this one thing that really stood out in my experiences.
You see where this is going?
Excuses, excuses, and excuses. And you can choose to continue or choose to look for a simpler explanation. An explanation that might hurt, because it makes you accountable for your failures. The good thing about that is, it also gives you the key to change it.
- The simple model makes your understanding greater of cause and effect in your life.
- Simple reasoning make you accountable for your failures, but it also directs your attention towards the real problem.
- Complex reasoning, when it comes to your failures, are just excuses of you not dealing with it.