"... because common people think like so-and-so ..."

Albert Y. C. Lai, September 15 2004
trebla [at] vex [dot] net

In debates over merits of programming paradigms, languages, and tools, often the way ordinary humans think is cited. For example, some opinions dismiss non-imperative programming "because people think in terms of states", or non-object-oriented programming "because people think in terms of manipulating objects".

I think this is all very well. Ordinary people also fear blood and gore. Can you imagine an "opinion leader" in medical science saying "never cut open the body of appendicitis patients because it would be tough to doctors"? Medical treatments are assessed based on benefit and harm to patients, not comfort of doctors. Medical students are required to learn to face blood and gore, or quit.

The "natural" or "common" argument is never brought up in professions such as medicine and surgery, law, accounting, and engineering whenever there are debates over methodologies and training. It is not ordinary people's nature to be rigorous, analytic, quantitative, formal, rational, calm, objective, impartial, ... The professions do not give in to human nature; quite on the contrary, apprentices are trained for years against human nature, and those who fail to change are weeded out.

There are professions and professional training because the way of common people is deficient.

If common people can think of nothing other than states and objects, perhaps programmers should grow out of it.

Also posted to comp.lang.functional (Google copy) and Lambda the Ultimate.

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