[Haskell-cafe] How do people still not understand what FP is about? What are we doing wrong?

Jonathan Geddes geddes.jonathan at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 22:39:30 CEST 2012

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.

[0] - http://www.paulgraham.com/avg.html
[1] - http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html

-J Arthur

On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 1:59 PM, Ben Kolera <ben.kolera at gmail.com> 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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