Sunday, March 20, 2005

Dean the scream in Hogtown

Howard Dean was apparently up here in Toronto proselytizing (and screaming?) to a gathering of Democratics Abroad. - Spreading the message

Dean is pushing the Dems to adopt a 'keep it simple' approach in crafting its political message. The Dems had a:

"tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail"

lamented Dean - in explanating his party's 0 for 3 performance in last November's US elections - failing to gain the White House and taking a harsher drubbing in the House and Senate races.

Well - perhaps American voters are smarter than he thinks. There is a long-established principal in philosophy called Occam's Razor - the crux of which is that a simpler explanation, model, or theory is preferred over the more complex ones. To quote from the above link:

In any given model, Occam's razor helps us to "shave off" those concepts, variables or constructs that are not really needed to explain the phenomenon. By doing that, developing the model will become much easier, and there is less chance of introducing inconsistencies, ambiguities and redundancies.

This principal is infused to all modern mathematics and philosphy. Isaac Newton stated it succintly:

"We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances."

Occam's Razor can be applied to this case. Compare the following:

Theory #1: The Democrtas lost the election due to a combination of a complicated message, dumb and/or lazy voters, rigged voting machines, and other elements of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

Theory #2: The Democrats lost because they had a weak candidate and no persuasive ideas.

Now theory #2 is a lot simpler. Occam's Razor indicates that it is likely the better.

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