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And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one rim to the other it was round all about, and...a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about...

1 Kings 7:23

I would use the heck out of this software if it existed, and for that reason I would very much like to assist in writing software like this.

I'm thinking it would best be described as "cultural". Some level of taboo against correcting others unless you're in a socially-approved position to do so (teacher, elder, etc.) is, to my understanding, fairly common among humans, even if it's weaker in our society and time. I brought up the common knowledge thing just because it seems to contradict the idea that a strong urge to correct others could have been particularly adaptive.

For some reason "correcting" people's reasoning was important enough in the ancestral environment to be special-cased in motivation hardware.

It feels instinctual to you and many others alive today including myself, but I'm not sure that's evidence enough that it was common in the ancestral environment. Isn't "people are not supposed to disagree with each other on factual matters because anything worth knowing is common knowledge in the ancestral environment" also an ev-pysch proposition?

I think the quote's main function is to warn those who don't know anything about programming of a kind of person they're likely to encounter on their journey (people who know everything and think their preferences are very right), and to give them some confidence to resist these people. It also drives home the point that people who know how to program already won't get much out of the book. I quoted it because it addresses a common failure mode of very intelligent and skilled people.

Concretely, Milton Friedman probably didn't have a workable plan for bringing about such an environment, though he may have thought he did; I'm not familiar enough with his thinking. One next-best option would be to try to convince other people that that's what part of a solution to bad government would look like, which under a charitable interpretation of his motives, is what he was doing with that statement he made.

I think the spirit of the quote is that instead of counting on anyone to be a both benevolent and effective ruler, or counting on voters to recognize such things, design the political environment so that that will happen naturally, even when an office is occupied by a corrupt or ineffective person.

I went the common route of fixing the "learning advanced subjects is hard" problem by studying computer engineering in college, if that's an option you're able to consider. Writing simple code is a just few steps away from writing complex code, and at that point you have something you'll likely be able to make a career out of. "Software is eating the world", as some people accurately quip.

The software world could probably scratch your itch pretty well. Have you tried/do you like programming?

If you are reading this book and flipping out at every third sentence because you feel I'm insulting your intelligence, then I have three points of advice for you:

  • Stop reading my book. I didn't write it for you. I wrote it for people who don't already know everything.

  • Empty before you fill. You will have a hard time learning from someone with more knowledge if you already know everything.

  • Go learn Lisp. I hear people who know everything really like Lisp.

For everyone else who's here to learn, just read everything as if I'm smiling and I have a mischievous little twinkle in my eye.

Introduction to Learn Python The Hard Way, by Zed A. Shaw

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