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Those real life tools have a far simpler interface than, say, a mail client. As software becomes more complex, HIG increase in importance, because there is more to learn and HIG enables us to transfer knowledge across apps.

The actions you perform with a scalpel (or even a bulldozer) are far more complex than sending email, so arguing that they have a simpler interface doesn't really support your case. Quite the opposite, in fact. I would argue that they have simpler interfaces because those interfaces are actually optimized for the task, rather than being some jack-of-all-trades compromise.

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