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I have noticed that there is a tendency in many people, and certainly in groups as a whole, to avoid, ignore, or trivialize complex and difficult issues by placing focus on issues that are similar and consequently much easier to discuss.

Sometimes this may be intentional, but I believe is generally a subconscious response to not being able to grasp complexity.

Usually, this results in a discussion that is inaccurate and does not adequately address the issue at hand.

In the various social or psychological studies, is there a term for this phenomenon? Alternatively, are there any informal terms or phrases that reference or could be used to describe it?

  • I think you'd need to narrow your question. The tendency to oversimplfying, if it's intentional, for political gain for example, is dumbing down the issue, if it's for science abstraction is fine, as suggested, if it's unintentional that person just lacks the intelligence to grasp the issue. – P. O. Jul 19 '16 at 17:35
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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductionism – rosends Jul 27 '16 at 15:39
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The word "simplism" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the act or an instance of oversimplifying; especially: the reduction of a problem to a false simplicity by ignoring complicating factors".

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  • Wow .... I wasn't expecting such a good answer that was so ...well, "simple". ;) – ThunderGuppy Jul 29 '16 at 21:30
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Abstraction comes close:

From Wiktionary:

  1. The act of focusing on one characteristic of an object rather than the object as a whole group of characteristics; the act of separating said qualities from the object or ideas.
    • c. 1837, W. Hamilton, in Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic (1860), Lecture XXXV, page 474: Abstraction is no positive act: it is simply the negative of attention.

    Abstraction is necessary for the classification of things into genera and species.

  2. The act of comparing commonality between distinct objects and organizing using those similarities; the act of generalizing characteristics; the product of said generalization.

The genralisation is what may lead people to "oversimplify" or trivialize complex and difficult issues by placing focus on issues that are similar and consequently much easier to discuss.

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