Why does everything have to be so complicated?
Danielle: I heard they found evidence on Vic.
Dutch: Yeah. Maybe a little too much.
Danielle: What do you mean?
Dutch: You ever hear of Occam’s razor? The simplest answer is usually the right one? Good. Now apply that to the Lemansky case. Now all this evidence is pointing to Vic. Occam’s razor would suggest he’s guilty. Walter Chatton a contemporary of Occam’s. Disputed the razor. Coined his own anti-razor.
Danielle: What’s that?
Dutch: Chatton believed that the world was too complex. Too many variables to assume that the simplest answer was always the correct one.
From “Baptism by Fire,” the second episode of season 6 of The Shield.
I haven’t watched The Shield in years, but this exchange has haunted my dreams ever since. The world is indeed a complicated place, and most complex phenomena have complicated explanations, but, more often than not, the simplest hypothesis is the best. Why are so many of us tempted to believe otherwise, like Dutch here?
Why do so many Americans deny global warming/climate change? Is it because they’re idiots who don’t understand science? Is it because they believe in faith over reason? Or is there something else going on, a little more nuanced?
It feels like we’ve reached peak conspiracy, at least online. It appears that people will believe anything. Birthers. Chemtrails. The Illuminati. The flat earth theory is somehow back in vogue for chrissake. Some of this is just the internet: it gives public voices to previously private beliefs and acts as an echo chamber of those beliefs. But it feels as though, in spite of most of us having more access to more information than at any other time in history, people are more credulous than ever. Everywhere there are people claiming they believe in something demonstrably false. And not just a few people. They believe with every ounce in their body. They believe so strongly they denigrate those who do not believe the same things. And they don’t just believe, they evangelize. What the hell?