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Occam, Darwin, Freud



               Peace, n.  In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

                                                                                                 –   Ambrose Bierce           The Devil’s Dictionary



All we are saying … is

Give Peace a chance!

                                            –   John Lennon




The deepest knowledge, and the greatest insights      of our top scientists, thinkers, & religionists … is of great value to us (and to our children).


But it’s also Very Important    what Most People believe is the nature of Reality.   (and I am especially interested in THIS … and HOW ideas CHANGE    as they move from the minds of our great scientists and thinkers … to where they function in our lives       in Popular Culture)


Let’s look at three examples, beginning with Occam.

Occam’s razor (also Ockham’s razor or Ocham’s razor: Latin: novacula Occami; or law of parsimony: Latin: lex parsimoniae) is the problem-solving principle that states “Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.”  The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (c.1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian. It is sometimes misquoted in pop culture and other media by some form of the statement “The simplest solution is most likely the right one.”   Occam’s razor instead says that when presented with competing hypotheses that make the same predictions, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions,  and it is not meant to be a way of choosing between hypotheses that make different predictions.

Similarly, in science, Occam’s razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models.   In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.

                                                                                       –  Wikipedia

We are (in a way) –  the children of Occam’s Razor, are we not? …   but NOT the original principle itself,  the way that OCCAM HIMSELF UNDERSTOOD IT … but AFTER IT HAD BEEN POPULARIZED (and distorted) !            

We have become fond of simple explanations, and are predisposed toward them (and we feel that our position is validated by Occam.     Mmm?    We distorted (and misused) Occam (in our typically uneducated way) … due to our own (perverse) purposes.

However …

for several decades I have been conducting (my own, private, informal) study of WHY we make mistakes / (make wrong judgments)  and here is what I have noticed —

Our (wrong) conclusion is quite often IN THE DIRECTION OF THE EVIDENCE that we were aware of … but that conclusion was WRONG ANYWAY  … BECAUSE … the world turns out to be more complicated than the way we had presumed it to be!


Maybe (like me) – you saw the Cohen Brothers’ film – “Fargo”: (wherein) a man hires a couple guys to kidnap his own wife, expecting that when her rich father pays the ransom, he (himself) will be able to use it to improve his financial situation.  Well, by the point where (during the actual kidnapping) the wife hid in the bathtub, became (in the struggle) wrapped and entangled in the shower curtain, then rolled down the stairs – a shocking scene     …    then I thought – “Here we go again” — confusing the (very complex) Real World with our grotesquely oversimplified stereotype of it)


Also (at this point in the essay) I wish to share with you  –  (and enlist the support of) a very nuts & bolts geneticist / (scientist):

“Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. I have read and heard many attempts at a systematic account of it, from materialism and theosophy to the Christian system or that of Kant, and I have always felt that they were much too simple. I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy. That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself, and must be my excuse for dreaming.”

J.B.S. Haldane    Possible Worlds

~ ~ ~ ~

Let us consider Darwin (and the idea of Survival of the Fittest).  

This notion has had (and continues to have) enormous effect on our world view.

Still we hear people say – “It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog world.”


And I suspect that the exploitation of the Weak by the Powerful     is (in some way) supported by (what people THINK are the understandings of) Darwin.   Mmm?


To a certain extent … Selfishness, Exploitation, and Greed    imagine that they are validated by the ‘work’ of Darwin; and I don’t think this is fair   (that is … it is unsound. It’s an abuse.  Idea abuse, I mean … [not just human abuse])


I would recommend to you a film – “Creation”  (2009, with Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin).

(this film does an excellent job    of letting us in on the social/religious climate of the time … and in to the private (family) life of Darwin)


~ ~ ~ ~


Sigmund Freud was the founder of Psychoanalysis.  In 1915 he published a paper called “The Unconscious”.  While not a new idea (the unconscious mind) Freud did much to popularize the notion.

His idea (that we humans are governed mainly by our own subconscious thoughts and emotions) – was taken up by certain American grey men.

And this story is well told in a film by Adam Curtis & Ann Bernays  – “The Century of the Self” (2002).

It describes the rise of what is now called – the Public Relations Industry (which, if properly named, would be called – the Public Control Industry), which has (well) learned how to make money from the understanding – that people are not rational, but are (largely) motivated by factors of which we are unconscious.


The reason that I chose (yet again, as an epigram) the quote (about peace) by Ambrose Bierce … is because Bierce means for us to understand (from his definition) – that we ACTUALLY COULD HAVE PEACE … IF WE CHOSE TO TREAT EACH OTHER WELL  

(as though we loved each other … like FAMILY).


But we DON’T.


Both of the epigram quotes     emphasize our ABILITY TO CHOOSE!


It has to do with PURPOSE.


If our purpose is to get rich, to rule and exploit the world … then we get a (stinko) Foreign Policy like the one we actually operate under.

(If our purpose were to Thrive and to Share … and to Lift Up     … then we would have a (very different) foreign policy that was consistent with THAT purpose.)


Just as the Grey Men in the ‘Public Relations’ Industry    do not care if (lots of) teen-age girls die every year from anorexia and bulimia …


Selfishness and Greed have become the ‘Reality’ they live in; so they think it’s normal.



And what is underneath this (generic) Selfishness & Greed?  —




This is the (spiritual) disease that we are suffering from – 

 We’re NOT LIVING like a Loving FAMILY.

That’s why we [everyone in the world] should be attending Neighborhood Potlucks every week.

That’s why we should abolish laws which permit Planetary Degradation.

That’s why we should revise the Structure of Corporations … so that they are required to treat the Future Generations as major stockholders.

That’s why we should strive to Educate ourselves and our children.

That’s why we should choose Peace (rather than ‘profiting’ from war).


~ ~ ~ ~

This is my position –

On Normal (higher) Worlds     (not like this fallen one, where we happen to be living)  

 women are NOT AFRAID to walk alone at night

 because it is NOT DANGEROUS TO DO SO.

In other words … while Alienation, Selfishness, Greed, and Low Purpose are (here & now) common … they are (nonetheless)    UNNECESSARY.



If we can get ourselves to MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES … 

we can live in a (much) Better World.




We can choose to survive.


We’ve been Raising Hell … but we could choose Heaven.




“The U.S. vs John Lennon”  (2006)


“The Century of the Self”  (2002)


“Creation”  (2009)


“The Denial of Death”   (book) by Ernest Becker   (Pulitzer prize work)

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