How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

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How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Ben Kolera
Saw this float by in twitter, and it made me a bit sad. Obviously this is still a large misunderstanding of FP in the larger programming community and it make me wonder what we FP enthusiasts are doing wrong to not get the message out to people.

"Programming languages that require random senseless voodoo to get an effect are awesome. Let's make programming hard through poor design." [1]

The sad thing about this is that the inverse of this has more truth to it; that "languages that allow people to intersperse side effects anywhere in their computation without thought are flawed by design and allow programmers to do stupid things that hinder the composability, thread safety and ability to reason of/about their code".

Has anyone had any experience / success with convincing people that the "senseless voodoo" is actually a boon rather than a bane?

Is it even worth trying to convince people so set in their ways?

( Sorry if this is even too off-topic for the cafe. Just needed a place to vent my frustration at this. )

Cheers,
Ben

[1] https://twitter.com/cwestin63/status/214793627170390018



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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Ertugrul Söylemez
Ben Kolera <[hidden email]> wrote:

> "Programming languages that require random senseless voodoo to get an
> effect are awesome. Let's make programming hard through poor design."
> [1]
>
> [...]
>
> Is it even worth trying to convince people so set in their ways?

Someone saying something as stupid as this probably won't be convinced
anyway.  The statement shows that he didn't even take the time to
actually learn what FP is about before judging, so chances are you're
just wasting your time.  Such people are stubborn enough not to be
convinced even by actual code.

Don't worry, though.  This is really the exceptional case.  In my
experience most people actually get the point of FP and appreciate its
better productivity, but simply don't feel like spending the time to
learn it along with the associated complexity of unlearning what they
previously knew.  The other people are largely neutral or say that they
personally can't imagine how that can make you productive (which is
honest and objective and provides a base for further discussion).

You just have to live with the fact that there will always be a small
percentage of retarded people.  It's best to just ignore them.


Greets,
Ertugrul

--
Not to be or to be and (not to be or to be and (not to be or to be and
(not to be or to be and ... that is the list monad.

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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Jonathan Geddes
In reply to this post by Ben Kolera
I believe you are observing and commiserating over what Paul Graham famously refers to as "the blub paradox"[0].

Here is the problem from my perspective. It is a bootstrapping problem: you have to think FP is good to invest the time to learn it, but you have to invest a lot of time to learn it before you think it's good. This may be why FP has found a place in academia--loads of smart people who want to learn for the shear joy of learning. 

In my experience, it is often useful to provide a person with another motive to learn FP. If you can get them to learn anything at all, you can hope to get the bootstrapping process going. For example, one friend of mine really enjoys a good debate, but he really couldn't argue with me when it came to FP and so he went off to learn it. Now we argue about Haskell vs Scala for much more time than is productive, but he is sold on FP. In another case a junior programmer asked me how he could be more productive and I told him to learn FP. 

Anyway, I don't think things are not as bleak as you might think. See, for example [1]'s headline for the month of June.  While not exactly scientific, it is encouraging.


-J Arthur

On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 1:59 PM, Ben Kolera <[hidden email]> wrote:
Saw this float by in twitter, and it made me a bit sad. Obviously this is still a large misunderstanding of FP in the larger programming community and it make me wonder what we FP enthusiasts are doing wrong to not get the message out to people.

"Programming languages that require random senseless voodoo to get an effect are awesome. Let's make programming hard through poor design." [1]

The sad thing about this is that the inverse of this has more truth to it; that "languages that allow people to intersperse side effects anywhere in their computation without thought are flawed by design and allow programmers to do stupid things that hinder the composability, thread safety and ability to reason of/about their code".

Has anyone had any experience / success with convincing people that the "senseless voodoo" is actually a boon rather than a bane?

Is it even worth trying to convince people so set in their ways?

( Sorry if this is even too off-topic for the cafe. Just needed a place to vent my frustration at this. )

Cheers,
Ben

[1] https://twitter.com/cwestin63/status/214793627170390018



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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

John Melesky
In reply to this post by Ben Kolera
On Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 05:59:57AM +1000, Ben Kolera wrote:
> Saw this float by in twitter, and it made me a bit sad. Obviously
> this is still a large misunderstanding of FP in the larger
> programming community and it make me wonder what we FP enthusiasts
> are doing wrong to not get the message out to people.
>
> "Programming languages that require random senseless voodoo to get
> an effect are awesome. Let's make programming hard through poor
> design." [1]

If you click through and look at his later tweets, it's clear he's
talking about Objective-C.

Unless you're suggesting Objective-C is the language of FP
enthusiasts, i think it's safe to say you heard him out of context. :)

-john


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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Christopher Done
In reply to this post by Ertugrul Söylemez
On 18 June 2012 22:28, Ertugrul Söylemez <[hidden email]> wrote:
> You just have to live with the fact that there will always be a small
> percentage of retarded people.  It's best to just ignore them.

Well, they're not stupid. Just very stubborn. Like most programmers.
Stupid people can be taught to be smarter, stubborn people don't want
to be taught.

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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Ertugrul Söylemez
Christopher Done <[hidden email]> wrote:

> > You just have to live with the fact that there will always be a
> > small percentage of retarded people.  It's best to just ignore them.
>
> Well, they're not stupid. Just very stubborn. Like most programmers.
> Stupid people can be taught to be smarter, stubborn people don't want
> to be taught.

Indeed there is a line to be drawn here.  However, I think I can fit
both kinds of people under the adjective "retarded".


Greets,
Ertugrul

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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Ben-145
In reply to this post by Christopher Done
just to add to the ridiculousness quotient of this conversation

http://web.archive.org/web/20080406183542/http://www.lisperati.com/landoflisp/panel01.html

(i don't know where to find this other than in the web archive.)

ben

On Jun 18, 2012, at 1:44 PM, Christopher Done wrote:

> On 18 June 2012 22:28, Ertugrul Söylemez <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> You just have to live with the fact that there will always be a small
>> percentage of retarded people.  It's best to just ignore them.
>
> Well, they're not stupid. Just very stubborn. Like most programmers.
> Stupid people can be taught to be smarter, stubborn people don't want
> to be taught.
>
> _______________________________________________
> Haskell-Cafe mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://www.haskell.org/mailman/listinfo/haskell-cafe


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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Alexander Solla
In reply to this post by Jonathan Geddes


On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 1:39 PM, Jonathan Geddes <[hidden email]> wrote:
I believe you are observing and commiserating over what Paul Graham famously refers to as "the blub paradox"[0].

Here is the problem from my perspective. It is a bootstrapping problem: you have to think FP is good to invest the time to learn it, but you have to invest a lot of time to learn it before you think it's good. This may be why FP has found a place in academia--loads of smart people who want to learn for the shear joy of learning.

I might be an "exceptional" case.  I learned Perl of all things first.  But I studied mathematics as an undergraduate, and found myself using "abstract" mathematical reasoning  in order express and refactor computation all the time.  A strongly typed, truly functional language makes it so that my insights are in fact static guarantees instead of relatively fragile reasoning that somebody else might break with a badly placed side effect -- and also relieved me of the burden of making sure there /weren't/ any badly placed side effects in a long computation.

A lot of my procedural, OO peers really hated it when I did some of these transformations.  Until they saw, by example, that the "complexity" I introduced was simplification.  I stopped them from thinking about boxes, the things they contain, and moving things around in "space and time" and into thinking about the problem they were trying to solve.  It also meant less typing, an easier time adding features, and easier maintenance.  The code was harder to "read", but easier to make sense of.

But I think the OP is just an invitation to philosophize about our superiority.


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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Gregory Collins-3
In reply to this post by Ertugrul Söylemez
On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 10:51 PM, Ertugrul Söylemez <[hidden email]> wrote:
Indeed there is a line to be drawn here.  However, I think I can fit
both kinds of people under the adjective "retarded".

Off-topic: it would be even better to avoid using this ugly adjective to describe anyone, as it is deeply offensive to many and unfairly marginalizes the differently-abled.

G
--
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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Brandon Allbery
On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM, Gregory Collins <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 10:51 PM, Ertugrul Söylemez <[hidden email]> wrote:
Indeed there is a line to be drawn here.  However, I think I can fit
both kinds of people under the adjective "retarded".

Off-topic: it would be even better to avoid using this ugly adjective to describe anyone, as it is deeply offensive to many and unfairly marginalizes the differently-abled.

This.  Please.

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Re: How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Ben Kolera
In reply to this post by John Melesky
Agreed, definitely out of context now that he has inadvertently cleared that up since this post. That thing that they say about jumping to assumptions … definitely well proven and in force today. Shouldn't be posting to mailing lists so early in the morning. :-/  

To be clear though, this post wasn't about calling anyone stupid. Chris most certainly isn't. Calling people stupid just because they disagree with you is a pretty awful thing and doesn't convince anyone anything. Maybe it was poorly worded, but I was more after ways to educate people why things are the way they are in haskell land and what powers that brings. The person is still able to disagree with that and prefer the old ways, but at least their decision wasn't fuelled by ignorance; which is the most important thing.  

But yeah; this is all out of context so all of the above is fairly moot, anyhow.

Apologies for the wild early-morning assumptions, everyone!  

Cheers,
Ben


On Tuesday, 19 June 2012 at 6:43 AM, john melesky wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 05:59:57AM +1000, Ben Kolera wrote:
> > Saw this float by in twitter, and it made me a bit sad. Obviously
> > this is still a large misunderstanding of FP in the larger
> > programming community and it make me wonder what we FP enthusiasts
> > are doing wrong to not get the message out to people.
> >  
> > "Programming languages that require random senseless voodoo to get
> > an effect are awesome. Let's make programming hard through poor
> > design." [1]
>  
>  
>  
> If you click through and look at his later tweets, it's clear he's
> talking about Objective-C.
>  
> Unless you're suggesting Objective-C is the language of FP
> enthusiasts, i think it's safe to say you heard him out of context. :)
>  
> -john  



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