Complex, not Complicated

Dictionaries define these two words synonymously. They are, in fact, very different.

Education is a complex issue1. Like any other human systems.

Complicated things can be explained by examining their individual parts. Complex ones cannot. They are always more than sum of its parts.

A jet engine is complicated. Mayonnaise is complex. People tend to describe themselves as complex and their spouse as complicated.2

Unfortunately, our analytical/ logical brain is unable to make this distinction. And many a clever people, despite having good intentions, do more harm than good3. There is even a term for this ‘iatrogenics’.

  1. Thanks to my friend(s) who suggested me to write articles on ‘Education’
  2. Thanks to Derek Sivers’ summary of ‘The Geography of Genius’ that inspired this idea on complex and complicated.
  3. ‘Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!’ Thanks to this funny yet inspiring TED Talk by Ernesto Sirolli

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