Occam’s Bipolar Razor

Apologies for paraphrasing William Occam’s theory promulgated as long ago as the 13th Century, in which to paraphrase yet further, he states “simpler explanations are, other things being equal, generally better than more complex ones”
Or to stick to a colloquial version of which he might have approved, ‘keep it simple stupid’
It’s a theory that has fascinated for centuries, from Isaac Newton to Bertrand Russell. So it’s fitting that no less an eminence than Kit Johnson should seek to add his own stamp – Bipolar-wise!
For years I sought complexity to address my condition, supported I might add by the Psychiatric community, in which I was diagnosed, or rather misdiagnosed with alarming regularity. Of course complex solutions/reasons undoubtedly provide comfort in trying to explain and understand your illness, and complexity is even more attractive in finding excuses for the worst excesses of my behaviour. Let’s use or suggest a real life example – take an active child. Now before I’m assailed on all levels for ignoring an important condition – I might well have been diagnosed at ADHD – a term unheard of 20 years ago, for which Ritalin is now the drug of choice. In my day, as the legendary Freddie Trueman might have said, the nearest thing to diagnosis was to have my Granny suggest I had St Vitus Dance and her cure was ‘a clip round the earhole’. Was she an advocate of Occam’s Razor? Safe to say she’d never of heard of it, but instinctively she sought out a simpler explanation, as was the general approach to all illness some 50 years ago.
As we enter the digital age where knowledge need not been learned through experience and endeavour, which helps us to respect it, the ‘answer’ is a now click away. It seems complexity is everywhere, as knowledge seeks to fill the ‘space’ available so to speak. Suddenly everyone is an expert, if not quite a Barrack Room Lawyer, and from the flimsiest of facts surfed, they become experts offering all types of theories and explanations.
But let’s stick with Occam here and ask ourselves – are we more psychologically complex and scarred than we were a generation ago? Common sense tells me no. In offering more complexity than we need, do we in fact just pander to our insecurities. A sore throat can miraculously become Oesophageal Cancer after speaking with an ‘Internet Physician’. Prudence is sensible, but so is lofty contempt.
Have you noticed nowadays that the list of side effects on even the most common place drugs runs to just about everything. Why? – well in this litigious age of experts, the makers seek to ensure they are bomb proof from action. But in doing, the complexity means few of us bother to read them all, thus potentially missing something vital in the small print. Or just as bad, we read about a side effect and then psychosomatics kick in and we have it!
So what am I saying? Not sure. My mind has covered so many things in thinking about this article that I can’t remember what I was trying to say.
Funny that!

2 Responses to “Occam’s Bipolar Razor”

  1. On December 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm Hollis Helmeci responded with... #

    Once again you have made my afternoon better. I can not imagine anyone else saying that lofty contempt is a sensible response. And I really can not think of a better way to describe any interaction with the internet than your wonderful phrase: Prudence is sensible, but so is lofty contempt. I may well have to use this liberally!

    • On December 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi there
      It works for me. When I react angrily I feel good for about 10 minutes then I wonder if I overreacted and start getting all introspective. So better to rise above it! You take care
      Best regards Kit

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