William of Ockham

Ockham's Razor

What I learned from William of Ockham:

I have a friend who works for Google, lets call him Brian just to preserve his privacy. Brian is one very, very smart cookie. He attended Stanford and MIT on full scholarships, was recruited by virtually every tech firm in the Valley and is recognized, by everyone who knows him, as the smartest guy they know. But I don't think he has ever been on a date. He works hard, understands the most complex technology, concepts and terms and is invited to TED every year. But Brian doesn't consciously use Ockham' s razor when he talks. Is it us, or is it him?

Ockham's Razor states that in trying to understand something, getting unnecessary information out of the way is the fastest way to the truth or to the best explanation.

"If it Looks like a Duck, Walks like a Duck and Quacks like a Duck - It's a Duck". Through the ages many leading thinkers have said this:

"Simplicity is the utmost sophistication" Aristotle

So what was William of Ockham saying?

Of two equivalent theories, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred or "The simplest explanation is usually the best".

So what? - you say.

Well if you have difficulty explaining a value proposition, your concepts and ideas or something is too complicated to explain in simple terms then I put it to you that you're really not very smart and certainly not a genius. A real genius makes it all seem so very simple. Genius communicates. A real genius makes it quack like a duck.

Genius breaks concepts, discoveries, insights and ideas down into real life situations and connects with us. With stories and alignments that everyone can understand. Invention, discovery and cutting edge insights are very smart and they may well be the embryos of genius. But Genius, like Beethoven, Einstein and Newton, has the ability to

Make it Quack like a Duck.

That's what I learned from William of Ockham.

Learn more about Ockham's razor.

William of Ockham biography

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