Ockham’s Razor Is Deeply Misleading(1)
September 11, 2022 @
As a working conspiracy theorist I shave with Ockham’s razor. At least as often as I shave with anything made by Bic or Gillette. This article speaks to a point of confusion that is not really that hard to resolve, and it needs resolving for everyone’s sake. I’ll full agree that when that confusion is playing with someone’s (mis)understanding empowered it is indeed a dangerous thing.
Contemplate the analogy of Ockham’s Razor, it is a very good one. All good analogies provide the working limits (of the analogy) within the illusion that carries the thought, and Ockham’s Razor is no exception. A straight razor (the only kind Ockham knew) cuts a straight flat line. Lay that razor down on a painted board and you can cut the paint off to reveal the wood beneath, or the steel, or the stone. But… put that razor to a curved surface, something shaped in three dimensions, and all it can cut is a thin stripe whose width is directly proportionate to how flexible and tough the surface beneath it really is.
Dealing with a two dimensional flat situation that razor is a magnificent tool for revealing what lies beneath the surface. Dealing with a curved but compressible situation of more than two factors the razor applied consistently in a known pattern will eventually reveal what is below (rough analogy… your face). But try and use that razor on a rigid situation particularly if it is formed from more than three factors and the razor is helpless. Unless you already know how to recognize which of the many factors the razor has revealed with any given cut all that razor can do is add fuel to the fires of confusion.
Let that confusion burn long enough and eventually it will have burned every scrap of motivation to discover the truth, and what you’re left with is what the author is talking about… people who are so burned out they’ll believe anything from Donald Trump was a sane president to the ridiculous idea that an academic fauxLiberal gives a damn about your quality of life.
A straight razor is one sharp piece of steel, it needs to be handled carefully. In these modern times there is one more factor that needs kept in perpetual focus: any sharp piece of steel can be a weapon just as easily as a tool.