A lie-to-children, sometimes referred to as a Wittgenstein's ladder (see below), is an expression that describes the simplification of technical or difficult-to-understand material for consumption bychildren. The word "children" should not be taken literally, but as encompassing anyone in the process of learning about a given topic, regardless of age. It is itself a simplification of certainconcepts in the philosophy of science.
Because life and its aspects can be extremely difficult to understand without experience, to present a full level of complexity to a student or child all at oncecan be overwhelming. Hence elementary explanations tend to be simple, concise, or simply "wrong" — but in a way that attempts to make the lesson more understandable. Sometimes the lesson can bequalified, for example by claiming "this isn't technically true, but it's easier to understand". In retrospect the first explanation may be easy to understand for its inaccuracies, but it will be replacedwith a more sophisticated explanation which is closer to "the truth". This "tender introduction" concept is an important aspect of education.
Such statements are not usually intended as deceptions, andmay, in fact, be true to a first approximation or within certain contexts. For example Newtonian mechanics, by modern standards, is factually incorrect, as it fails to take into account relativity orquantum mechanics, but it is still a valuable and valid approximation to those theories in many situations.
2 Wittgenstein's ladder
3 Related concepts and aspects
6 External links
The term appeared in the book The Science of Discworld (2000), co-authored and partly based on ideas created by Terry Pratchett, and in TheCollapse of Chaos (1994) and Figments of Reality (1997), both by the other two co-authors of The Science of Discworld, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen.
The definition given in The Science of Discworld is...
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