How many of you are Extreme Programmers?

Dave Benjamin ramen at
Thu Apr 24 10:16:16 CEST 2003

In article <3E9FFCB5.79AEA22E at>, Peter Hansen wrote:
> Aahz wrote:
>> In article <mailman.1050587068.2733.python-list at>,
>> Jp Calderone  <exarkun at> wrote:
>> >
>> >--
>> >It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to
>> >students that have had prior exposure to BASIC: as potential
>> >programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of
>> >regeneration.        -- Dijkstra
>> I like to believe that I'm a counter-example to this generalization.
> I too learned BASIC first (from a book which I found in the public 
> library, a book with lots of pictures and big fonts and stuff... 
> I forget what it was called though :-( ).  I also hope my code is more 
> an example of good style than of bad.
> Nevertheless, we might give Dijkstra the benefit of the doubt and
> accept that a *student* who had exposure to BASIC might be 
> unteachable as far as improving her style goes.  Perhaps only once
> she advances beyond the student stage, and has some years of actual
> _practice_, will she discard the early mental mutilation of BASIC
> and find her way to Good Style.
> (Though I doubt Dijkstra intended to allow this loophole in his
> potential "law". :-)

Well, I think Dijkstra's basic point was that you can't really "unlearn"
anything. You can ignore what you've learned, but it's still there. Once
you've learned some BASIC, it's a part of your brain, and that imprint will
remain there FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. But it's okay, it hasn't stopped me
either. Maybe someday we'll start a therapy group.


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