Occam’s razor

Wednesday 25th May 2011

DOOM and gloom on the faces of Rapture stakeholders as shares plummet. Pay-off final postponed yet again. Thousands condemned to carry on living. Damned unbelievers still standing. CEO refuses to fall on sword.

Many have had a good laugh this week at the expense of an elderly American who made an error with his slide-rule, his marbles, or both.

But did he not think it through? Was he not capable of reaching the obvious logical conclusion?

For, if the prediction turned out to be false, he’d end up looking silly. And if it had turned out to be true, there wouldn’t have been anyone around to congratulate him on his prophecy. Why set yourself up to fail whatever the outcome? Better to keep it all secret and save the feeling smug bit for the after-life.

I’d feel more charitable towards him if he himself had been more charitable. Surely knowing that the end was nigh, he could have given away most of his multi-million-dollar wealth… couldn’t he?

Ah, but, hang on. Has he not been given another chance to put his money where his mouth is? Or at least to consider putting some of it into the mouths of others. Now we know the day of judgment has been put back, there’s still plenty of time for him to give a number of dying African children the rapture of a few square meals.

It won’t happen, of course. More chance of the world coming to an end.

Here’s a poem. It’s called Occam’s razor:

when the sun goes supernova
in a few billion years
snuffing out humanity
and our interplanetary vanity
will it all end in tears

i don’t suppose you or i
will follow it on tv
tuning into the studios
or recording it on videos
let’s just watch this and then we’ll have some tea

there’ll be no dry eye live on sky
when the superstar goes up in smoke
and no omnibus repeat
at the end of the week
for this particular soap

but your own death and my final breath
will snuff out the universe for you and me
human life on the planet is cheap
only death on the screen makes us weep
let’s just watch this and then we’ll have some tea

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