Simple Knowledge

I used to teach in a university, but I was often dubious about what I was teaching. Much of it was too complicated and could be simplified without sacrificing its power and usefulness. I increasingly think that this simplification is essential. Otherwise human progress will slow down or cease as our minds become clogged with unnecessary technicalities, and inevitable over-simplifications take control of our thoughts and actions. Over the last 40 years I have written numerous articles exploring this theme is various contexts – the list below gives links to some of them…. Michael Wood (

General principles

Maths should not be hard: the case for making academic knowledge more palatable. Article in the Higher Education Review.

I’ll make it simple. Short article in the Times Higher Education.

Simplifying academic knowledge to make cognition more efficient: opportunities, benefits and barriers. Article on SSRN.

We should try to make academic knowledge easier and another Rant on simple knowledge. Recent posts on a similar theme.

A haphazard collection of examples

Statistics. Links to some suggestions about a major source of confusion and incomprehension in urgent need of reform.

Our present notation system for numbers is far more economical and powerful than the Roman system (2019 vs MMXIX). Imagine what would (not) have happened if the old guard had insisted on sticking with Roman numerals!

The Pros and Cons of Using Pros and Cons for Multi-Criteria Evaluation and Decision Making. Academic decision theory is complicated and rarely used: this article tries to make it closer to common sense.

Peer regard for pot noodles A blog post reviewing a typical “qualitative” research article – often jargon-ridden but for no good reason.

Sustainable Energy – without the hot air by David McKay. Analysis of UK energy options. Uses everyday units and insists on numbers instead of oversimplified adjectives like “huge”.

Longer version …


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