It's Wiser to Assume Too Little Than Too Much

It’s true that every writer must calibrate the degree of specialization in her language against her best guess of the audience’s familiarity with the topic. But in general it’s wiser to assume too little than too much. Every audience is spread out along a bell curve of sophistication, and inevitably we’ll bore a few at the top while baffling a few at the bottom; the only question is how many there will be of each. The curse of knowledge means that we’re more likely to overestimate the average reader’s familiarity with our little world than to underestimate it. And in any case one should not confuse clarity with condescension.