Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple

Complexity Bias

Complexity bias is a logical fallacy that leads us to give undue credence to complex concepts.
Faced with two competing hypotheses, we are likely to choose the most complex one. That’s usually the option with the most assumptions and regressions. As a result, when we need to solve a problem, we may ignore simple solutions — thinking “that will never work” — and instead favor complex ones.
To understand complexity bias, we need first to establish the meaning of three key terms associated with it: complexity, simplicity, and chaos.

Nice piece on the risks of being seduced by unnecessary complexity, especially in the broader context of language. It reminded me of an old essay by Italo Calvino, “L’antilingua”—literally: “the anti-language”—in which he comically shows the effects of replacing simple words with increasingly grotesque jargon. To paraphrase Calvino, the anti-language is the language of people who prefer saying “utilize” instead of “use”, people who are scared of showing familiarity with the subject of their talk. According to him, speaking the anti-language is a sign of being out of touch with life, and ultimately represents the death of language itself.

April 5, 2018

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