“If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough”. Do you agree?

I don’t agree. And I’m up to absorbing the heated fury and outrage this may cause, contradicting a saying by the great Albert Einstein.


It is true that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” sometimes, especially when it comes to the ineradicable human behaviour when conveying a certain level of class, wealth or intellect, attaching “sophistication” to a standard set of habits, customs, tones of voice and body-gestures that have nothing to do with how true sophistication defines itself.

But, using the same logic, simplifying complicated things may be the ultimate complication! It can, indeed, very well be a sign of insufficient grasp of a subject or an idea disguised with “oversimplification”. Also, not being able of conveying own understanding to others is not an automatic sign of lack of knowledge.


Some people may be pure geniuses in their understanding of some very complicated areas of knowledge. But the moment you ask them to explain their understanding to others in simple words, they fail dramatically. It’s probably because their analytical mind is more conditioned or trained to deal with complexity instead of simplicity, with absorption of abstract & contradicting idea’s in what what seems like a introvert brain-storm (divergent thinking) instead of convergence of knowledge (convergent thinking).

A beautiful mind

It does not subtract from their understanding of the topic, but it does highlight their shortcoming in other areas like teaching abilities, pedagogic abilities and social skills. I believe that this is what distinguishes a teacher from a stereo-typical scientist or a researcher. And it’s no wonder, as such, that education, teaching and pedagogy have become separate scientific disciplines of their own.

  1. Who said that the likes of Einstein & Tesla were good teachers?
  2. Did Shakespeare teach language or did he rather make his writings (his individual creativity) transform language?
  3. Did Maradona, the genially talented football player, succeed as a football coach?