Complexity and zoom levels.

We have definite ideas of simple and of complex. We choose whether one thing fits one category or the other. But we fail to recognise just how much impact our subjective views have. The zoom levels we employ are the main determinants of what is simple and what is complex.
If we stand from afar the simpler something will appear. Geometric shapes, like a triangle or circle, will appear as dots. A human body will appear a simple organism until we zoom in and recognise the complexity of the systems within.
This is why young people often perceive ideas as simple, with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ certain answers. Their ability to ‘zoom’ is not yet developed enough to differentiate complexity, a gift which comes with experience. Certainty equates with simplicity and human beings crave it. It is unfortunate then that many things are complex and solutions require much thought and creative thinking which goes beyond the realm of yes and no answers. This is an area where moral arguments are often made with ‘false simplicity’, i.e good and bad, when on closer observation such absolutes are not possible. It’s an age old problem: does the end justify the means? A white lie, judged on an absolute scale, is still a lie. One thing modernity has confirmed is that honesty is not always the best policy, desirable maybe but it exists in a realm of unintentional consequence. Our zoom ability improves with our experience but many of us prefer the simplicity of childhood and carry absolutism into our adult life, often equating simplistic absolutes with the moral high ground. This is a mistake, because it leads to a lot of negative ‘isms’ which sound like reasoned argument. At the other extreme one will often hear the excuse that ‘it’s more complicated than that.’ On such occasions reverting to reductionism and arguing for the simple is no good. It is far better to employ your zoom capabilities, work out the complexities for yourself, and counter such statements with reasoned argument: ‘Yes, its complicated, but its still wrong. And here’s why…’

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