Friday, February 18, 2022

As Simple As Possible, But Not Simpler

I'm back from the gym and I wanted to say a word about the videos I sometimes watch about weight training. I personally would not want to be a content creator for a YouTube channel for lifters because you are always having to come up with different ways of saying almost exactly the same thing. One YouTuber is annoyingly repetitious. Here are just a few of his videos on reducing body fat:

  • Getting to 10% Body Fat
  • Losing 10% Body Fat
  • First Time Getting 10% Body Fat
  • How Much Walking Until 10% Body Fat
  • How Long To 10% Body Fat
  • Reach 10% Body Fat

And here's what another popular YouTuber has to say about biceps training:

  • 6 Best Biceps Exercises
  • The Perfect Biceps Workout
  • Get Big Biceps
  • Can't Get Big Biceps?
  • Bicep Workout
  • How to Get Big Biceps -- Guaranteed!!
  • How to Get Bigger Biceps
  • Insane Biceps Workout

I'm reminded of another YouTuber who posts videos about New Testament Greek. He's got several videos on which beginning grammar you should use. They mostly all say the same thing. The truth is,  almost all beginning Greek grammars cover the same material, though some of us do so in greater detail than others. But I don't really have to watch 5 videos telling me that. One would suffice. 

Losing body fat is not all that complicated. You have to watch what you eat. You have to increase your metabolism through weight training. And you have to have sufficient recovery time (especially a good night's sleep). As for biceps growth, all you really need are barbell biceps curls and incline dumbbell curls. That's basically it. (Go here for more.) 

As you can imagine, I get a lot of emails from people who are teaching themselves Greek from my textbook or taking their first Greek course at a Bible school or seminary that uses my book. I got one such email this morning. It said, in part:

By the way, I really appreciate your effort to make learning Greek "no more difficult than it should be." It makes me enjoy the lessons a lot more. 

This email came from a student in Asia who is using my beginning grammar in a theological college. I am aware that some think my books on Greek are too short. But if have erred, I hope I have erred on the side of making things a little bit too simple rather than more difficult than necessary. 

A few years ago McDonald's announced a new slogan -- "The Simpler, the Better." The slogan was supposed to fall in line with its attempt to both streamline its menu and speed up its service. Yes, I'm scratching my head too. "The Simpler, the Better" sounds to me more like a slogan for Whole Foods than for a fast food chain. (The slogan never caught on, by the way.) That said, simpler is almost always best because it makes something easier to understand. But you must be careful. The goal is to strike a happy medium between being overly complicated and simplistic. A Greek grammar that has over 500 pages is, by definition, too complicated for the vast majority of beginning students. Posting 10 different videos about how to grow huge biceps is definitely TMI for most body builders. 

Like Einstein, who reportedly said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler," I believe in the beauty of simplicity. This philosophy of writing has been the foundation for much of my scholarship, though not all of it (this book has 672 pages).