Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

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.

Copyright 2009
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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RS Janes
14 years ago

True, if the simplest answer were always the right one, we’d still believe the gods put a blanket over the world to bring night — like a parrot’s cage — and the stars were just holes punched in the blanket as reminders of the bright future of heaven. One of the confounding things in life is that often people make the simple complicated and the complicated simple. Someone once said wisdom was knowing the difference between what really is simple, and what really is complicated. (And that someone didn’t write Microsoft computer hardware manuals, I’m sure.)

As to 9/11, one of the factoids of the event that sticks in my craw is the fact that the Pentagon attack came an hour after the first strike on the WTC in New York. The eastern seaboard of the US is dotted with airbases full of fighter jets that can go Mach 1.5 and Mach 2. It would have been easy for an F-16 or F-14 to intercept and force down or destroy the aircraft that hit the Pentagon, yet they all stood down. Contrary to what’s been reported in the MSM, it’s not necessary for the president, VP, or Secy of Defense to authorize this — any area commander of flag rank, in the absence of direct orders from the White House, in an emergency can order an intercept to force down or, in the extreme, destroy an aircraft threatening an American city, yet they didn’t. As far as I’ve read, not one member of the 9/11 Commission, nor the Congress, ever asked why this action wasn’t taken when we knew the plane headed to Washington had been hijacked and was likely to be used as a flying bomb.

14 years ago

[…] I hope. Looks like the threads I was following have faded… so on to "other." This column was inspired by a debate here at V. Here are two quotes from the column… […]

E Elder
14 years ago

This is the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle. It is a truism but hardly a substitute for scientific research.

The GOP prefers the Glen Beck approach that is “common sense.” Many years ago one my professors said what America really need is more “uncommon sense.” He had a good point.

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