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Comment by bill_harris on Say Not "Complexity" · 2007-08-31T16:09:54.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Gray Area wrote, "You don't understand something until you can program it." As somewhat of an aside, Randy MacDonnell has written about APL and J (http://facilitatedsystems.com/weblog/2007/07/if-you-can-say-it-its-done.html), "If you can say it, it's done."

On a different note, I took a pair of summer high school mathematics courses sponsored by the NSF years ago at the University of Miami. One professor, a Dr. Hermann, I seem to recall, said he often imagined himself wearing "worry beads" and fingering them as he spoke. If he fingered the beads nearer his neck, he was speaking more precisely; if he fingered those nearer his waist, he was speaking less precisely. In reality, he wore no beads, but he did, on occasion, finger imaginary beads as he was explaining certain concepts.

Perhaps the same thing can be adapted here to indicate the level of magic in claims we make. If we finger imaginary beads near our necks, we claim we know what's going on; if we finger those nearer our waists, we admit there's magic here.