Clive Ash

Author Archives: Clive Ash

OCCAM’s Taser as epiphany

OCCAM’S  RAZOR – One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.  (Pluralitas  non est  ponenda  sine  neccesitate.)

OCCAM’S  TAZER – All unwarranted neural activity will return to zap you.


Much use has been made of the allegorical razor most associated with Occam, though variations on that theme date back to Aristotle.  Quite often the need for parsimonious simplicity has been used effectively by attackers and defenders alike of the same premise.  With that parsimonious introduction behind us, let us look at the issue from a different perspective.  Five hundred years after Occam another English clergyman and philosopher, Thomas Bayes, introduced a twist to the concept of probability by injecting prior sentiment into the interpretation of a probability.  And it seems that is exactly how the brain works.  The likelihood of defining an exact certainty for any event can easily overwhelm the brain’s capabilities; instead, it reverts to defining a probability for any eventuality, and then acts in accordance with that probabilistic interpretation.  Where Bayesian probability enters the picture is in the fact that all that has gone before becomes part of this interpretation of a future probability.  It appears that one never truly discards all the previous bad or unnecessary assumptions and presumptions that have brought us to where we are, and which continue to play a role, even if unconsciously so, in the decision making process.   Especially, one suspects, in the more contentious matters like religion, or philosophy, or romance.  All that unwarranted neural activity that was part of some past definition is hovering back there, idling like some supercharged capacitor just waiting to discharge when shorted out by an uncluttered revelation or fundamental realization, thus giving rise to what we so quaintly refer to as an epiphany.

The hypocracising of morality

  • (Hypocracising – the demeaning of a nobler instinct through hypocrisy)

Poor Assad- I should address him as President, but that would demean a lot of good Presidents that have gone before – can’t blame him for being confused.  He killed over 100,000 men, women, and children, and no one seemed to gave a damn, so he fires a couple of rockets with some gas in them, kills a couple hundred more helpless innocents, and suddenly everyone is pissed.  And he can’t figure out exactly what everyone is pissed about?  That he killed these extra couple hundred innocents – hell, he has been doing that for so long he has lost count of the death toll.  That he used gas – it was convenient and did serve to scare the crap out of everyone?  Besides, finally, it is all about killing, and whether one uses gas or lead or large amounts of TNT, the end result is the same.

How can gas be immoral?  Gas is just that – gas.  Why should using it to kill people be any more or less moral than killing them any other way.  And if using gas is immoral, shouldn’t they have stopped him from buying it?  What exactly did they think he was go to do with sarin gas?   And if the buying and using is immoral, what about the selling?  Why isn’t anyone threatening to bomb Russia for selling the stuff to him to start with.  Of course, Russia is doing a splendid job of CYA by claiming it wasn’t him.  Can’t hurt to send them a thank you note.  Even the Arab League is opposed to sanctioning him; maybe they have plans for their own supply.

Civilians have always been casualties of a vacillating morality.  During the Second World War there were only 20 million military related casualties but over 50 million civilian casualties.  The species has always demonstrated a greater capacity for hypocrisy over morality, and as long as we continue this hypocracising of our nobler instincts, the helpless will pay the price, much to the detriment of the whole, for no man is an island …….