Occam’s Razor v Dr Google

I was awakened this morning with a stabbing pain in my belly button. Want to become a doom mongering hypochondriac? Then sign up for a marathon. With the big race little over a day away every little ache or pain now sends me into a spiral of despair and scrambling for the medical dictionary. Or Dr. Google.

The worst thing you can do is try and self diagnose yourself online. Within a few moments I was convinced that I had appendicitis and would be in surgery within the hour. I ignored the dozens of other possible answers and immediately plumped for the worst case scenario. Dr. Google takes that little seed of worry and turns it into a mighty oak tree.

Dr. Google also suggested indigestion and I had eaten something before going to bed last night. It was, based upon the available evidence, the most likely answer to my dilemma. Did I consider it even for a nano second? Of course I didn’t. If an ambulance had turned up at the door I would have happily hopped into it, told Fionnuala to pack a bag and hooked up to the nearest morphine drip.

In my job as a civilian oversight investigator we are taught to consider the available evidence and, based upon that, draw up a list of theories, or hypotheses, as to what might have happened in a given situation. We then test each theory against the evidence to ascertain which theory fits best. We discount the most unlikely theories until we are left with the one which fits best. Nine times out of ten this is the simplest theory.

So who shot JFK? Consider the available evidence and you can come up with the most outlandish conspiracy theories but the simplest answer is that it was Lee Harvey Oswald. *please don’t come back at me with alternative arguments I’m just using this as an example* This technique is known as Occam’s Razor, named after the English philosopher, William of Ockham, who invented it. The simplest theory is the most likely solution.

Turns out that when I got up and had something to eat the pain subsided. I write this from the comfort of my own home, not a hospital bed. It was more than likely a touch of indigestion. My self diagnosis was miles off target and it looks like I’m going to live to run another day.

Why do we always think the worst? Of ourselves and of others? I’m the biggest culprit when it comes to this. Always putting myself down and overcomplicating of situations. Life can be as simple or as awkward as we want it to be. Humans tend to muddy the waters at every possible opportunity. Why look up at a clear, blue sky when you can spend your days walking about under a cloud of worry or through a fog of confusion.

Jesus got Occam’s Razor. The religious rulers of his time had turned God’s law into a huge, tangled knot of burdensome laws and procedures. A veritable Gordian knot that only they could navigate. Jesus cut through this with the sword of truth. He cut it back to the bare bones and boiled it down to a few basic lessons. Love God. Love others. Tell the truth. Follow me.

The simplest answer is the most likely answer. Leading a simple, honest life is the most likely way to avoid self inflicted dramas and theatrics. Strip away the lies and sin and see the truth for what it really is. Stop talking and start walking. Along the path that you were always destined to walk. William of Ockham 1 Wikipedia 0?

What are your views on Occam’s Razor?

Do you consult with Dr. Google?

28 thoughts on “Occam’s Razor v Dr Google

Add yours

  1. πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„
    I am in the teachers room at school and I guess I must look like a weirdo because I am laughing out loud reading your post… πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    Why do we always think of the worst? Because we think (oh so erroneously) that this will keep the worst at bay…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, Dr. Google is the worst. Sure, it is helpful to see what’s out there, but you have to remember how many people have access to the Internet. Then, statistically speaking, even though someone died of the smallest thing, chances are you will not. Dr. Google is the worst for doctors, because all of a sudden, the patient comes to see the doctor just to tell them what they have diagnosed themselves with and ask for a prescription/ treatment.

    I think we jump to the worst conclusion for two reasons:
    1. because bad things actually do happen to us, so we expect something to happen
    2. it is best to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.

    Glad you are still in the run πŸ˜‰

    Like

  3. Every pain I have is cancer – so I think. I google every disease known to man. When I feel fine, I don’t worry about my health, so at least that part is good. I’m glad you just had indigestion.

    Like

  4. Very true. As a former PC tech, when someone called the help desk to report a broken computer, 9x out of 10 it was an unplugged power cord (of course it took me 3 hours later to figure that out πŸ˜ƒ). ;>)

    Like

  5. Dr Facebook is even worse than Dr Google. I took my son to see Justice League, and wrote a status about my recent problem – being that I can’t sit down for a two hour movie without getting up to pee four times.

    And I have been diagnosed with everything from a urinary tract infection, to diabetes, to cancer. I’ll wait and see what the doctor says later this week.

    I like your blog and your writing style, even though some of your views are very different to mine. Thanks for all the likes on mine, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was excellent. Ignore the critics and go watch it. Loved it so much, I went back and watched it a second time, taking my mother this past weekend. Both her and my son loved it too.

        Like

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