Occam’s Blunt Razor

There’s a principle in philosophy called Occam’s razor. The definition of it varies depending on the source, but the one I like the most is that the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

It’s a principle that is useful to explain many conundrums and can eliminate unnecessary details. The more complicated the setup of an explanation is, the less likely it is to be true.

Have a headache? It could be a tumor, or you could just be dehydrated. Is the tire flat? Maybe you have a nasty enemy who slashed the tire, or it could just be a nail. There was a flash of light outside the windows. A meteor crashing down? No, that was probably a flash of lightning.

In the past few years, I’ve toyed with a variation of this principle that I like to use in place of the original one. It has a more pessimistic tone – as if it proclaims that, yes, the simplest explanation is indeed the right one, but also with a hint of disappointment.

Occam’s Blunt Razor

If there are several competing ideas to explain a phenomenon or predict the outcome of an upcoming situation, the most boring one is usually the right one.

It’s a great principle for predicting the future. This makes it especially useful for scientific predictions. It successfully predicted that the traces of a chemical in the clouds of Venus was not a sign of microbial life.

As you may already have noticed, it’s really close to the original principle. In probably more than 90% of all situations, the original Occam’s razor will be just as viable to explain a situation as Occam’s blunt razor is. Take for example the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Originally, the murderer was Lee Harvey Oswald acting on his own accord, but there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around involving various other parties. Those would be significantly more interesting, so Occam’s blunt razor predicts that Oswald did indeed do it on his own accord because that’s the most boring explanation. However, the normal Occam’s razor comes to the same conclusion. Oswald did it because that’s just the simplest explanation.

In most cases, Occam’s blunt razor is thus not really different than using Occam’s razor when it comes to the conclusion of the principle, but sometimes I use it anyway because of the hint of disappointment. Yes, it turned out there was no life in the clouds of Venus after all, but what a damn shame!

However, there are situations where the explanation might not be clear cut with just Occam’s razor. Take Betelgeuse going supernova, for example. It could happen today, it could happen in a thousand years. I’m not sure I would want Occam’s razor predicting this one. It seems to be down to pure luck. Occam’s blunt razor, however, predicts that it will not happen in your lifetime, because that would be interesting.

Grumpy Owl: Things I Don’t Understand

Most of us like lists, so here’s a list of things I don’t understand. Some I honestly don’t understand, like that spy movie, while others I might fundamentally understand, I just don’t understand why it’s a thing.

  • Taylor Swift
  • NFT
  • Consciousness
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Roguelikes and Soulslikes
  • Git
  • 8-bit music on vinyl
  • The thread feature in Slack
  • “Wrong answers only” 😑
  • Keyboards with no Caps Lock light
  • Joe & The Juice
  • Sunbathing
  • Sideways TV guides
  • Doctor Who
  • GIF animations where only the snow is animated

Grumpy Owl: Annoying Sounds of the Night

I live in an apartment right next to a street with shops, a café, a small meadow with trees – in short, a little bit of everything. When sleeping with an open window on hot nights, I’m sometimes awakened by the annoying sounds of the night.

This is my attempt at rating these sounds.

  1. A pair of magpies going KEKEKEKEKEKEKE (probably because some cat found their nest)
  2. A blackbird singing aggravatingly close to my window
  3. A group of night owl teenagers talking very loudly sitting outside the café across the street
  4. Two cats decide they hate each other and of course it has to happen just below my window
  5. One of the largest trucks on the planet (certainly one of the loudest) driving by
  6. A depressed woman that hates everything about life and everyone needs to hear about it
  7. That one rapper walking by while reciting one of his favorite songs
  8. A strange crow that sounds like it swallowed a laser gun
  9. A wood pigeon in a tree repeating the Forbidden Forest jingle

Free Will

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One of the things I want to believe in is free will.

I understand the arguments by scientists claiming how everything could have evolved in a predictable manner since the big bang. It does make sense. Even down to the decision making processes in the brain and how we can’t see into the future, everything could still be set in stone. It’s a frightening thought, right? Even if you decided to test it knowing all this, that decision could still be set in stone too.

Among all the scientific books, articles and YouTube videos I’ve read and watched, there always seems to be a consensus that it’s either free will or determinism. It’s a little disappointing that some of my favorite scientists often vote for the latter, but as mentioned before – there are good arguments for it.

But what if it’s not as simple as a binary choice?

Sometimes I ponder the idea that epic proportions of complexity can somehow diminish determinism. After layers upon layers of complexity, the universe is so incredibly intricate that it doesn’t make any sense to think of determinism anymore. Although it’s still predictable, the information is so massive that you would not be able to predict all outcomes, even if you invented a computer the size of a galaxy.

Grumpy Owl: Nature Documentaries

I hereby declare that the following should be exempt from all future nature documentaries:

  • Penguins (especially emperor penguins)
  • Sea elephants
  • Sea lions
  • Polar bears
  • Salmons climbing rivers and bears slapping them
  • Cuckoo chicks pushing other chicks out of the nest
  • Lions or cheetahs failing to make a kill after a long setup
  • Elephants
  • Birds and whales working together in an epic scene to eat a shoal of fish
  • Sea turtles laying eggs on the beach and baby sea turtles trying to reach the ocean
  • Flamingos
  • This beautiful coral reef is dying because humans
  • Tigers

Why does it always have to be the usual suspects? There are so many interesting animals on the planet that we still haven’t seen.

My Predictions

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This is a mixture of my viewpoints and predictions put into a table where I can later state TRUE or FALSE, should some actually be answered. However, many are of a nature that probably won’t be answered in my lifetime (maybe even never) but it’s fun to make these lists anyway. Also, you’re welcome to discuss one or more of my predictions in the comments – as long as you’re being decent, of course.

The Creative Singularity

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I’ve watched a lot of really interesting philosophical YouTube videos about the dangers of AI lately. It’s an intriguing subject. Maybe you have already heard a lot of about the possible danger of AI reaching a level in the future where it may be smarter than humans. Imagine if it can also repair and even replicate itself. If we are not careful about the timing of this, it could get out of hand and completely wipe out humanity.

There’s this excellent analogy with ants. Ants can’t possibly understand anything we do and can’t protect themselves against us, but normally we wouldn’t want to do ants any harm either.

Until we need to build a house where an anthill is sprawling.

One of the YouTube videos I watched was Answers With Joe’s video about The Dark Side Of The Singularity. Joe makes a point that he’s actually more worried about the economic singularity than the climate changes. An economic singularity means that AI makes for so much automation that a large portion of humans on the planet will be unemployed. It could get so bad that we may have to rethink how we manage the economy in our societies, create a minimum income, or maybe even change how money works.

It’s a great video and I recommend you watch it:

I’ve had this vague idea that germinated in my mind a few months ago, and Joe’s video made me ponder it a lot more. The thing is, there’s something I’m even more worried about than Joe’s economic singularity, and that’s the creative singularity. It scares the crap out of me.

What do I mean by a creative singularity?

Ear Tragus

Quantum Reincarnation

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I have never been much of a religious man. My grand parents, parents and siblings weren’t either, so maybe it was an easy choice for us to just become atheists. There were no prayers and no regular church visits. My parents and my sister did have standard weddings, and my siblings were confirmed. It was more because of tradition than anything else. I chose not to be confirmed and it was nice not having to endure the schooling for it. When my dad died in 1997, we did get a proper burial for him – but it was actually against his wish. He always claimed it didn’t really matter.

He didn’t believe in anything after death. The big, black nothing. That’s what he always said.

Being a logically thinking individual that has always been a steadfast believer in science, I was always one of those that found all kinds of religion to be made up tales. But believers weren’t ridiculous to me. I could see how others found comfort and salvation this way, and I still do. Sometimes I even find the tales of the bible to be good stories worth telling. I absolutely love Prince of Egypt. It’s one of the greatest animated movies I’ve ever seen and I sometimes watch it again not just for the marvelous songs, but also to see Moses talk to god, gather his people and divide the waters. It’s an epic tale.

But to me, it’s still entirely made up.

The Game Masters

The Game Masters

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An increasingly popular theory about this universe lately is the one about everything being a simulation. Even Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX boss, believes this to be true. It’s a fascinating but also scary thought that seems to cater to the level of computer technology we have reached these years.

In the previous century, we thought there might be UFO’s. We didn’t always have access to a camera then and our own technological level had risen to a point where we believed it might actually be possible to have levitating saucers from other worlds. Almost no reports from the middle ages? What do they know!?

Now we have smart phones and cameras all abound. So, where are the UFO photos?

Deep down, I believe the simulation theory might become victim of the same fate. It’s an intriguing theory that makes some sense given what we learn from science at the moment, but who knows, one day we might discover or invent something more that will kill this theory in an instant.

Never mind. Guess it wasn’t that after all.

That haven’t stopped myself from playing around with this idea, however. In fact, I have spun a lot of thoughts and rules around the possibility of this all being a simulation controlled by some sort of ardent game masters. There are two aspects to this idea.