Ockham’s Razor and Guyana

Dear Editor,

According to an entry in Wikipedia, Ockham’s Razor “… is a principle of parsimony, economy, or succinctness used in problem-solving devised by William of Ockham (ca 1287-1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” In other words, the simplest answer to a question is most likely to be the correct answer. We may discover much if we applied this principle to everyday questions; two examples come to mind.

Firstly, a variety of reasons have been proposed for the sheer inability of our government to provide good value for the taxpayer money they collect all year long. As a general matter, tax rates, even at a high level, are not themselves a problem. The difficulties begin when people believe that they are not getting the services that are supposed to be paid for by their taxes. For instance, few Guyanese today can say honestly that they are satisfied by the police services, roads, education, health care and regular elections their taxes are supposed to finance. Where does all the money disappear to? According to Ockham’s Razor, the simplest answer to the question is likely correct. So, if the money is disappearing and there is no corresponding development, where is the money going?

Secondly, it is widely believed that once accomplices take pay from drug cartels, they will have only two future choices: continue to collaborate, or be killed. Many observers allege and believe that some officials are involved or complicit in a variety of lucrative criminal activities. If those beliefs are correct, it is irrational to expect those officials to support effective police work. Perhaps the real reason for the increasing lawlessness in Guyana, is much simpler than incompetence or stupidity; self-preservation, according to Ockham’s Razor, may be the simplest, therefore correct answer.

Yours faithfully,

Mark DaCosta