Subject: Re: Your introduction to Lisp...
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2002 20:22:33 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Kent M Pitman <>
| This seems to me a simple matter of proper education.  I doubt it's a
| fundamental property of the universe.

  It seems to me that Scheme victims are far less aware of the need for
  re-education that users of any other language.  This is a level of
  language-design arrogance that comes with most Scheme texts and material
  that rubs off on students who think they have found the One True Design.

| My bet is that the same is said for Lisp.

  Well, if "Lisp" here means Common Lisp, I have never seen it.

| Education is itself a mind-altering drug and it warps people's ability to
| think in the way they would have thought absent it.

  True, but I said thinking straight, not keep thinking crooked.

| If it warrants resistance, it is not for the per se reason that it alters
| minds.

  No, but any "education" that causes people to become unable to cope with
  the world the live in, when they could cope just fine previously, has
  good reason to be met with resistance and the association with brain-
  washing cults is normally not welcome. 

> However, we're NOT looking for: Any books on LISP, LaTeX, or Web-based
> training.

| Could this just mean one is in the pipe?

  Nope.  This is policy.

| Does anyone know why this would be there?  If it is a bad experience, can
| we find out what?

  I have tried, but I have only off-the-record comments and reasoning.  If
  you have more success, that would be great.  However, what I have heard
  is the old "Scheme frightens people", which is true, and then "Scheme is
  a Lisp", which is not, so "Lisp frightens people" follows, which it
  _should_ not even if the second premise were true.  For a long time, my
  conclusion has been that Scheme really is harmful to people's ability to
  think properly and results in a perspective on programming and on problem
  solving in general that requires the equivalent of psychotherapy to find
  out what horrible "childhood" you had and how it affects your adult life.
  In general, I have found Scheme to be an extraordinarily _limiting_
  language, not the least in the warped idea that all code must be elegant
  and all solutions minimalistic, that "dirty tricks" must be avoided at
  all cost, etc.  This fear of getting dirt under their nails is perhaps
  the most damaging effect of working with an over-elegant language that
  places so much focus on doing The Right Thing.  The fact that the Scheme
  language is so incredibly _tiny_ is a testament to how _little_ you can
  do in real life that qualify as The Right Thing.  If more One-Right-Thing
  Maximally-Elegant Final Solutions were possible, they would have gotten
  into Scheme, right?  So _everything_ else just has to be dirtier than
  Scheme, but this never dawns on some people.  Some people react with
  hostility to the expressed notion that "we're clean, you're not" that
  comes with languages that have excluded everything that was not "clean"
  enough.  (Any similarity to dissing the unwashed masses is intentional.)

  I think Scheme _deserves_ its really bad reputation and should not be
  taught or used.  I would rather teach people Java and rescue them later
  than even tell them about Scheme.  At least they will have gotten some
  exposure to that dirty old Real World and Common Lisp will be seen as an
  improvement.  Too many Scheme victims regard anything after Scheme to be
  inferior and uglier and this simply does not help them to learn anything.

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.

  Post with compassion: