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 Post subject: Blore's Razor
PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2002 10:06 am 
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Okay, I'm stumped. I ran across this quotation "Given the choice between two theories, take the one that is funnier" in Random Quotations, and the source is "Blore's Razor." I went all over the Net trying to find out who/what Blore's Razor is or is from, but can only find the quotation and the attribution -- not an explanation of where this is from.

Who knows and can explain?


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PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2002 10:56 pm 
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I'll see if I can find anything. That's one of the earliest ones in my collection and I'm not sure where I got it...

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 Post subject: Occam's Razor
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2002 6:50 am 
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It is obviously a comical play on the principle of Occam's Razor. Info on that theory is here:

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/OCCAMRAZ.html


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 Post subject: The Razor's Edge.....
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2002 11:00 am 
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Just what the heck is a "razor" anyway? Here's more (and the webpage where I found it)....

Hanlon's Razor prov. A corollary of Finagle's Law, similar to Occam's Razor, that reads "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." The derivation of the Hanlon eponym is not definitely known, but a very similar remark ("You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.") appears in "Logic of Empire", a classic 1941 SF story by Robert A. Heinlein, who calls it the 'devil theory' of sociology. Heinlein's popularity in the hacker culture makes plausible the supposition that 'Hanlon' is derived from 'Heinlein' by phonetic corruption. A similar epigram has been attributed to William James, but Heinlein more probably got the idea from Alfred Korzybski and other practitioners of General Semantics. It seems to be a particular favorite of hackers, often showing up in sig blocks, fortune cookie files and the login banners of BBS systems and commercial networks. This probably reflects the hacker's daily experience of environments created by well-intentioned but short-sighted people.
http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/ ... Razor.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2002 11:22 am 
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Good question, thenostromo -- "just what the heck is a 'razor' anyway"--I'm not familiar with the use of "razor" in this context either. I assume, given the maxims with which it's associated, that it's metaphorical for something that cuts through a complexity. (Is this an allusion to the Gordian Knot, the insoluble problem that Alexander the Great finally simply cut with a sword?)

Between Phaedrus' clue about the comic twist on Occam's Razor and yours about "razor" maxims in hacker culture, we may be getting somewhere. Everything2.org has a bit about it, but not who Blore is and where the quotation came from.

Yet another elusive quest begins on the QuotationsPage forum . . .


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2002 8:28 am 
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Luna wrote:
Good question, thenostromo -- "just what the heck is a 'razor' anyway"--I'm not familiar with the use of "razor" in this context either. I assume, given the maxims with which it's associated, that it's metaphorical for something that cuts through a complexity. .


I have a two volume dictionary that came with the World Book Encyclopedia set my parents bought me way back in the '70s. I love that dictionary — it's helped me out of many a tight spot.

At the end of the "Occam's Razor" entry, it says, "[Razor refers to the idea in this principle of shaving an argument to its simplest terms]"

The "razor" entry, however, does not include this way of using the word among its definitions. Has anyone checked the OED? (Don't ask what happened to my copy -- it's a long sad story.)

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PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2002 8:53 am 
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thenostromo wrote:
("You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.") appears in "Logic of Empire", a classic 1941 SF story by Robert A. Heinlein, who calls it the 'devil theory' of sociology. http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/ ... Razor.html


I always get a kick when I run into RAH fan. "Logic of Empire" is a fairly obscure Heinlein short and not easy to find. I have it in a crumbly old paperback called The Green Hills of Earth. I remembered the quote when you mentioned it, but your calling it up from memory was quite a feat. Then again, I've found many Heinlein fans to be remarkable people in one way or another.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2002 4:36 pm 
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What a trip.
I'd love to take credit for having a great memory, but I provided the URL link where I found that on the Internet.
I just looked at my excellent condition copy of Green Hills, and lo and behold, there is Logic of Empire. Thanks for reminding me.
In my meager collection I have more books by Heinlein than any other author.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2002 5:54 am 
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thenostromo wrote:
I'd love to take credit for having a great memory, but I provided the URL link where I found that on the Internet.
I just looked at my excellent condition copy of Green Hills, and lo and behold, there is Logic of Empire. Thanks for reminding me.
In my meager collection I have more books by Heinlein than any other author.


Oops, I thought it was your memory that led you to the link. I have 25 or 30 Heinlein books, unfortunately, some are old paperbacks printed on acid paper.

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