Laziness, Perl, and Larry Wall

By Xah Lee. Date:

In the unix community there's quite a large confusion and wishful thinking about the word laziness. In this post, i'd like to make some clarifications.

American Heritage Dictionary third edition defines laziness as: “Resistant to work or exertion; disposed to idleness.”

When the sorcerer Larry Wall said “The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris”, he used the word “laziness” to loosely imply “natural disposition that results in being economic”. As you can see now, “Resistant to work or exertion” is clearly not positive and not a virtue, but “natural disposition that results in economy” is a good thing if true.

When Larry Wall said one of programer's virtue is laziness, he wants the unix morons to conjure up in their brains the following proposition as true: “Resistant to work or exertion is a natural human disposition and such disposition actually results behaviors being economic”. This statement may be true, which means that human laziness may be intuitively understood from evolution. However, this statement is a proposition on all human beings, and is not some “virtue” that can be applied to a group of people such as programers.

Demagogue Larry Wall is smart in creating a confusion combined with wishful thinking. By making subtle statements like this, he semi-intentionally confuses average programers to think that it is OK to be not thorough, it is OK to be sloppy, it is OK to disparage computer science. (like the incompetent unixers and perlers are)

Can you see the evil and its harm in not understanding things clearly? This laziness quote by Wall is a tremendous damage to the computing industry. It is a source among others that spurs much bad fashion trends and f���ups in the industry. It is more damaging than any single hack or virus. It is social brain-washing at work, like the diamond company De Beers' tremendously successful sales slogan: “A Diamond is Forever” or Apple's grammatically fantastic “Think Different”.

The most fundamental explanation of why Larry Wall's sophistry are damaging to society is simply this: What he said is not true and they are widely spread and conceived as worthwhile. This is a form of mis-information. This is a manifestation of Love without Knowledge as i expounded before, with subtle but disastrous consequences (already).

[DISCLAIMER: all mentions of real persons are opinion only.]