I was experimenting with the nested list example in thread:
and was trying to search a nested list like that:

nested_list = [1 ,'Dick', 2, ['Mary', 7, 9, [700, 777, 'Paul']], 13]
if 'Paul' in nested_list:
    print 'found Paul'
    print 'Paul not found'

It always tells me that 'Paul' is not found! How come? Is there an error in Python?

if you just want to find "Paul" in your example, one way to do it is to convert that list to string

astring  = ','.join( str(i) for i in nested_list)
if "Paul in astring:
  print "Found"
if "x" in nested

can be written as

for elem in nested: if elem == "x" ...

Your list nested_list = [1 ,'Dick', 2, ['Mary', 7, 9, [700, 777, 'Paul']], 13] consists of 5 elemenst:

As you can see, none of these passes the test "Paul" == elem. In the 4th one (]) there is the string Paul, but it is hidden in a list ;)

You can flatten the list, might call this un-nesting and then search ...

def xflatten(seq):
    """a generator to flatten a nested list"""
    for x in seq:
        if type(x) is list:
            for y in xflatten(x):
                yield y
            yield x
nested_list = [1 ,'Dick', 2, ['Mary', 7, 9, [700, 777, 'Paul']], 13]
flat_list = list(xflatten(nested_list))
print flat_list  # [1, 'Dick', 2, 'Mary', 7, 9, 700, 777, 'Paul', 13]
if 'Paul' in flat_list:
    print "Found Paul in flat_list"  # now it works!

If you are only searching, Ghostdog's solution is most elegant and can be simplified to ...

nested_list = [1 ,'Dick', 2, ['Mary', 7, 9, [700, 777, 'Paul']], 13]
nl_string = str(nested_list)
print nl_string  # "[1, 'Dick', 2, ['Mary', 7, 9, [700, 777, 'Paul']], 13]"
if 'Paul' in nl_string:
    print "Found Paul in the string"  # works too!

Thank you fellow Pythonians. I learned from mawe's explanation that in order to find an item or find the maximum item you have to un-nest the list as shown by vegaseat's code.

Converting the list to a string, as Ghostdog74 suggested, works well for the search, but can't find the maximum.

since you are so refreshingly inquisitive, have you tried this ...

flat_list = [1, 'Dick', 2, 'Mary', 7, 9, 700, 777, 'Paul', 13]
print max(flat_list)

Would you have predicted the outcome? Can you explain why?

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