Inspection- In Response to Dull-witted Applications of Ockham’s Razor

To provide my own dull wit to a word, why is it whenever I hear “Ockham,” I want to say “bless you?”


Ockham’s Razor: (Note: apparently, according to Answers, both “Occam” and “Ockham” work. I had always spelled it “Occam,” and found out after I had changed it to “Ockham” my correction fetish doesn’t always serve me well when editing.)

A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Also called law of parsimony.

I am here, typing this now, to argue with a certain interpretation of the Razor, and maybe even whether it is true at all. How many times have you heard “Occam’s Razor proves?” Occam’s Razor proves nothing. It suggests. I even argue with that suggestion.

I suppose it boils down to this question… how many real simple answers are there?

Occam’s Razor is often used for 9/11.

Observe this post of mine at Volconvo, a debate site, responding to how according to one poster the official story regarding 9/11 is more simple; therefore win in a Razor-off …

Re: Occam’s Razor

Let’s see…

Somehow all these bin Laden supporters either didn’t squeal or not loud enough to be heard or believed…

They managed to get through what security there was at the time and even have, as devote Muslims of the fundamentalistic kind, a wild party the night before that still didn’t raise enough suspicions.

Managed to take over planes with no more than box cutters.

Three out of four succeeded to fly unchallenged into the towers, not even much of an attempt… if any… to stop them. And the one that didn’t make it only failed because of passengers. I would assume it would have hit without challenge too: unless someone can prove the shot down theory; the same theory that many consider also to be nutso. (I don’t. It actually makes some sense if we are to consider Razor applicable at all.)

Did anyone ever disprove that the terrorist IDs were found, undamaged, scattered over the ruins? How “Razor” is that?

I’m sorry but Ockham’s Razor doesn’t apply here… no matter which way we spin it. That’s the problem with Ockham’s Razor. Complex things do happen, and simply because it’s the most simple explanation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right one. It’s simply the easiest one to sell. Because a good portion of the public is dull-witted enough to believe Ockham’s Razor is a proven construct: gospel. It’s an interesting guideline. That’s all.

Example: before we knew as much as we did and had the tools to measure, wouldn’t Ockham’s Razor dictate the sun moved around the Earth at one point in our history, or earlier that the Earth was flat? What we know is always limited by what we see, what we know how to test and our intellectual development. Atoms? Molecules? Electrons? Oh, common, it’s simply just God particles created during that Adam and Eve “poof” moment!

Back to 9/11…

Not to mention getting the terrorists here, training them all those years before, and after, they got here… including indoctrination. Positioning them. Flying lessons.

No matter what scenario we choose to believe regarding 9/11, there’s an inherent complexity… unless you wish to believe God did it. Poof! Even Satan doing it would require a lot of God doing squat and Satan plotting, planning, sending these lost souls to do his work that complicates it all. With God doing it, well… he was teaching us a lesson. All are guilty, all are sinners…

Ah, blessed simplicity! Just like the sun revolving around the Earth, at least until we get a little more complex in our observations.

If we are to believe Ockham as it is commonly interpreted the the simplest answer must be right. “God did it.” Poof!

Let’s bring it down to basics. “A butterfly flies because it has wings.” Very Ockham’s Razor-ish. But a butterfly doesn’t fly because it has wings, otherwise chickens would fly too. There’s so much involved including genetics, the development of this creature through evolution, how they have been kept or not in captivity, physics in regard to flying… or not, aerodynamics, atmosphere as it exists here vs. other environments. (Otherwise a butterfly should be able to fly in space or near the ocean floor.)

That’s the short, but still complex, list.

Once you look into anything, simplicity slips away and the true complexity of life, death and reality take hold.

Occam’s Razor has its uses. Once a theory becomes needlessly complex it helps guide us towards what might be a better solution… until we learn more. But that’s all. It is not “proof” of anything, and it is a weak guideline at best. The overly complex may still be the right path to take. One of the best applications of this dull version of Razor might be the old concept that every element, every facet of reality and what we see, hear, feel and taste, is controlled by one deity. Not even just one God. One deity each. Otherwise we add to the complexity that one deity would have to have. An all powerful, all knowing, eternal God would indeed be a quite complex being.

No complexity to how gravity works, no black holes, no naturally occurring hurricanes, tornadoes and all the laws of physics and such that apply…

All the “poof” work of one deity each.

Of course where all these deities reside… that might be a bit too complex for some who push Occam’s Razor.

Life is complex.

Reality is complex.

Those who claim simplicity often understate the complexity of what they support, and these same “understaters” usually only point out the complexity when it comes to what they disagree with.

It’s that simple.

Or is it?



Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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