“…the truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought.”

"...the truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought." Physicist Richard P. Feynman

"You can recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity. It is always easy when you have made a guess, and done two or three little calculations to make sure that it is not obviously wrong, to know that it is right. When you get it right, it is obvious that it is right – at least if you have any experience – because usually what happens is that more comes out than goes in. Your guess is, in fact, that something is very simple. If you cannot see immediately that it is wrong, and it is simpler than it was before, then it is right. The inexperienced, and crackpots, and people like that, make guesses that are simple, but you can immediately see that they are wrong, so that does not count. Others, the inexperienced students, make guesses that are very complicated, and it sort of looks as if it is all right, but I know it is not true because the truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought."

Feynman is speaking in the context of physics, but his observation is also true about many deceptive phenomena where you’re trying to get at the truth. Magicians will tell you that the secret to most magic tricks is actually very simple. And the best con men don’t have to create intricate methodologies to con you – their secret is usually that they simply lie to you. But the truth, as Feynman says, is both simple and beautiful. The truth is elegant.

The quote is from the chapter Seeking New Laws in the book The Character of Physical Laws, a collection of 1964 lectures by physicist and educator Richard P. Feynman. (1918 – 1988)

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