Monday, April 10, 2017

Why did Gillette me talk about razors?

I subscribe to several "Learn a new word every day" emails, and the other day, the word of the day was "Ockham's razor."

This is not something to shave with; it's a philosophical principle that says when there are two ways to explain something, always go with the simpler way. Part of this is, when you have to assume that a lot of things are right, the believability is lessened.

They call it a "razor" because it cuts through the excess verbiage and leaves things clean and basic, just like when I drag a razor across this old face of mine at 5:30 AM twice a week.

For example, let's say that when you went to bed last night, there was a nice coconut cake, all iced and ready for business, sitting on the counter in the kitchen.  And then, when you got up this morning, the cake was gone!

Well, sir. Here are two possible solutions for the Case Of The Missing Cake:

  • the cats split it
  • space aliens landed in the yard, broke into the kitchen through the garage, ate the cake, and then took off at a quarter to 3
Just apply Ockham's Razor and blame it on Fluffy and Flossie.

"Ockham" was William of Ockham, a Franciscan friar and student of logic way back in the 14th century. He wrote down this rule in Latin:

 Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
Which is Latin for, "I forgot to do the necessary multiplication problems for homework." No, it means "More things should not be used than are necessary."

In medical school, they teach future doctors, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras."

So that's all I'm going to say.

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