Ocam’s Razor by Phil Temples

Ocam’s Razor
Phil Temples

Class, I’d like to point out this very unusual rock formation located near the Tayma oasis in Saudi Arabia known as the Al Naslaa rock.”

The image on the auditorium’s projection screen displays a large boulder–approximately twenty feet high and thirty feet wide–that appears to be split completely down the middle into two parts. It contains numerous petroglyphs including a crude image of a horse. A man in a flowing white robe is posed next to the rock, giving proportion to the structure.

“Righteous horse, dude! Was he stoned?”

The comment comes from a few rows back in the auditorium. It is followed with numerous snickers.

“Okay, funny… Listen up! I’d like to call your attention to the ‘split’ down the middle.”

The professor projects a red dot from his laser pointer on the screen and waves it along the rock’s divide.

“As you can see, it’s very straight and no more than a few inches wide. Any idea what could have caused this?”

There is a resounding silence. Finally, someone from the back shouts, “Aliens.”

More snickers erupt. The professor shakes his head in frustration.

“I can see that many of you haven’t yet recovered from a long weekend of partying. Actually, geologists speculate that ‘freeze-thaw’ weathering created a small crack in the rock that eventually widened over the centuries.”

The professor puts down his pointer for a moment.

“Have any of you ever heard of Ocam’s razor? It’s the problem-solving principle that ‘entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity,’ sometimes inaccurately stated as ‘the simplest explanation is usually the best one.’ In this case, I’m afraid that geology is a simpler explanation and therefore trumps little green men.”

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3842 BCE:

“What do you think of my masterpiece, Zytzydren? I call it ‘Yunxztqgy.’”

“Would you please stop screwing around with that laser cutter, Glyzmggrh, and help me load these minerals onto the ship! We have to finish this in less than one solar cycle, or there’ll be hell to pay.”

Ocam’s Razor by Phil Temples 1

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