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  • Reverend James Squire

Occam’s Razor



Occam’s razor is not something that you use to shave. It is sometimes referred to as the Law of Parsimony. Occam’s razor states that of all the facts, the simple one is usually correct. It has a wide range of applications in the disciplines of religion, physics, and medicine. It is also critical to know about this phenomenon as we go into the Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump Part 2. The Articles of Impeachment have been delivered to the Senate. Occam’s razor is central to living a moral life, and is very important to the ethical conduct of this trial.


Occam’s razor is a principle that was developed by William of Ockham in the 14th century who was a logician and Franciscan friar. He once said that “God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone.” That statement makes sense to me, but it got him into trouble with the Pope at the time.


The truth of this principle set forth by this 14th century monk has proven to be true for our daily lives as well. There is a colloquialism that is a brief summary of Okham’s belief. It is KISS meaning KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. That will make you smart.


A good many of the members of Congress are lawyers who are politicians. My lawyer friends will reflect with me on the trait that lawyers like to hear themselves talk. They have the “gift for gab”. The same is true for clergy.


I have a now deceased friend who was a lawyer who became fabulously wealthy by winning workmen’s compensation cases. That was his specialty so one day I asked him the secret to his success. More to the point I asked him what course in law school helped him the most in his practice. He was quick to say that it wasn’t a course in law school. It was theater courses that he took as an undergraduate. I exclaimed, “What!” He indicated that he learned about using words to create a character that would influence the jury. He made his complaints come alive. He went on to counter Occam’s razor by saying the more words the better. It is easy to confuse the jury that way.


I watch CNN. I love to see a follower of Trump be interviewed by any of the anchors. The enablers of Trump ramble on. The anchor waits, and then says simply, “That’s not true!” The person interviewed will again use a lot of words to describe his or her case, and the anchor would simply say, “That is false!” What is remembered is what the anchor says. Not the enabler.


This is why the filibuster is the very example of never-ending speech to have a questionable goal. I checked and the longest filibuster is 24 hours and 18 minutes by South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond. Its goal was to not approve the Civil Rights Act. Trump’s wordy enablers come up with alternative facts to address the short responses of the CNN anchors. I also read conservative journalists such as George Will and others but not Fox News. They have recently reduced their news time and added opinion time which means more words without meaning except to make their point in a long-winded fashion with no short, “That’s not true!” welcomed into the room.


Keep in mind the spider who weaves his web in elaborate fashion. It is an insect that depends on a lot of web to trap their food supply. They can’t exist without the formation of an elaborate web and not a single thread. The spider would make a good mascot for the politicians. I know that some of you are thinking about another animal for a mascot that has a white stripe on their back and uses a spray of many bad smells to protect themselves. I don’t want to go there.


One of the most valuable examples of how Occam’s Razor operates in real life was given to be by a member of our staff at EA when he retired. He knew that I was having trouble with a particular person as this individual could talk their way out of anything that the individual said that was not true.


I asked this person who retired what he learned that I should know to improve my leadership skills. He looked at me and said, “You know____________. The faster that person talks, the more you should worry!” It turned out to be a valuable lesson to learn.


As you watch the upcoming trial. Follow the guidance of Occam’s razor and my retired friend, and successful lawyer buddy. “The more a person talks, the more we should worry!”

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