I got this idea from @LDoBe’s excellent Everyday Engineering thread:
I tried showing my roommate the Engineered Earth video I posted and realized that she didn’t know what frictional forces were. She found the video infinitely less interesting because she didn’t understand the fundamentals. Obviously everyone knows what friction is, but she couldn’t make sense of the free-body diagrams used in the video to illustrate the point despite understanding the significance of the concept to everyday life. I figured there would be more than a few people who are like, “I’m sure this is cool, but I don’t understand any of it.”
What I’ve found is that people don’t like to ask questions because they’re afraid of being patronized for not knowing 100% of the things. The point of “explaining it to me like I’m five” is to get childish pride out of the way and focus on the wonderful things we can all learn together.
There are a lot of people here with diverse backgrounds and differing levels of expertise, so ask a question, and maybe someone will pick up the phone.
To the answerers, assume people lack the basic knowledge to understand what they want to understand. Jargon is your enemy. Define terms. Assume the questioner knows what a five year old would know. Be patient.
The questioner, try to be equally patient. Sometimes when you know a lot about something, it’s hard to figure out how to get other people to know what you’re on about.
#On this hallowed thread, none shall be shamed for not knowing things.