PDA

View Full Version : Occam's Razor and WoT


looqas
01-26-2011, 02:36 AM
I've been thinking about the mysteries in WoT in general and thought about the use of Occam's Razor in the series. What I try to say that mysteries and whatnot are rather logically presented. There seem only few cases of use of Deus Ex Machina (it's magic, no further explanation needed) to get out of the hole. One example of this people have argued somewhat was Mat's escape from Tower of Ghenjei. I tend to think that it was beautiful solution and there are doubtless someone who feels it was forced.

One thing that has kept me thinking too that we know from RJ was aware of the fans and their love of mysteries. And he must have deliberately written to address them. And here comes the Occam's Razor in the play. Do you feel RJ wrote trying to be as murky and misleading as he could or did he use more Occam's Razor way of writing?

My personal feeling is that he used to clearer in the first books and after fan-base started picking apart every comma he started really writing mysteries arching many books dropping hints here and there.

I'm operating on a hunch and gut feelings here, but this should produce a good conversation regardless.

Juan
01-26-2011, 03:17 AM
Well he always dropped hints and such, even from the first books. But I do agree with you that it seems to me that he dropped in more subtle hints in the books once he had a fan base and knew what they liked. That said, I don't think he changed his story for the fans, I just think he added more mysteries and subtle hints and clues here and there. I think this started to mainly happen after the whole Asmodean thing blew up (which I still don't understand.. but ok). That's my take on things.

looqas
01-26-2011, 03:24 AM
Come to think of it Juan you are correct. RJ was baffled how the Asmo thing evolved. He insists time and again how Occam's Razor is clearly there, but we failed to see it.

And once it crossed the line people started seeing things that where not there and started doubting everything.

Not that I really had any clue who killed Asmo at the time and even later. It really never captivated my interest so fully.

Make the Asmo case was the water shed in this regard.

Daekyras
02-14-2011, 04:27 AM
Come to think of it Juan you are correct. RJ was baffled how the Asmo thing evolved. He insists time and again how Occam's Razor is clearly there, but we failed to see it.

And once it crossed the line people started seeing things that where not there and started doubting everything.

Not that I really had any clue who killed Asmo at the time and even later. It really never captivated my interest so fully.

Make the Asmo case was the water shed in this regard.

I still say that the revealed "killer" is in no way "intuitively obvious". At All.

Casabamelon
02-15-2011, 08:10 AM
I still say that the revealed "killer" is in no way "intuitively obvious". At All.

As long as you drew the right conclusions, it was obvious.

Sort of like male/female interactions on... well... everything...

subwoofer
02-15-2011, 10:43 AM
I dunno, I am not sure that WoT was written like a Christie novel where the author holds back certain bits of knowledge that only the hero knows. OTOH with 10000+ to wade through, if RJ wanted to be cryptic he had ample opportunity. The Prophecies for one come to mind. What the Finn's said also could be used. Usually prophecies have a way of coming true, and it is up to us as readers to see how the truth was stretched to meet said prophecies. On the whole, it seems like things worked out fairly legit for Rand, Mat and Moiraine.

Rand has been branded, marked six ways from Sunday, took Tear, has the Sword, has the Aiel, all of that coming true, and if that is true then what about the rest?Rand had huge contentions with his fate and what the Prophecies say about him... namely his blood on rocks, not being a drink at a cocktail party, and him living he must die. Sucks to read something like that, then find out it is talking about you.

Mat- well, he lost an eye and is now married to a very... difficult woman. Saw that one coming from the Finns, but I don't know if he's happy about it.

About the only thing I think Occam doesn't work out well with is Aes Sedai... but that is a whole other blog.

Sometimes I compare WoT to Shakespeare. Did Willy really put in all that stuff that English professors have their student's delving for? All that deep meaning, or was old Bill just trying to make a living doing what he did best? Sometimes a sword is just a sword.

FelixPax
02-16-2011, 12:48 AM
I've been thinking about the mysteries in WoT in general and thought about the use of Occam's Razor in the series.

Perhaps Occam's Razor in terms of the WoT series is Cauthon's Razor? Or maybe Luca's Razor? ;)


One example of this people have argued somewhat was Mat's escape from Tower of Ghenjei. I tend to think that it was beautiful solution and there are doubtless someone who feels it was forced.

I thought Brandon Sanderson royally screwed up Moiraine's reaction to Mat Cauthon's identity in TofM book.

Moiraine in TFoH book appealed to Mat Cauthon in Cairhien identically as she knew King Aemon of Manetheren was known to be able to be persuaded & influenced: appeal to his heart, his courage (in tEotW book).

Granted Moiraine didn't speak to Mat Cauthon until after exiting the Tower of Ghenjei. Still the problem remains, that Brandon Sanderson did not put all the pieces together.


Do you feel RJ wrote trying to be as murky and misleading as he could or did he use more Occam's Razor way of writing?

Misleading? No, no. However RJ was a master juggler & poet. He tends to use words with a broad range of possibility meanings/concepts embedded within, so he can layer meaning upon meaning to create a rich synergy of allusions, metaphors, figures of speech. Take for example, the words: Dragon; Tower. Just think about how many different people or places have been referred to as Dragon or Tower. It's quite a list.



My personal feeling is that he used to clearer in the first booksand after fan-base started picking apart every comma he started really writing mysteries arching many books dropping hints here and there.

Really? I have come to the opposite conclusion, in regards to the first book-"The Eye of the World". Jordan was extremely subtle about people, events, dreams, locations and associations in the first book.

GonzoTheGreat
02-16-2011, 03:36 AM
Perhaps Occam's Razor in terms of the WoT series is Cauthon's Razor? Or maybe Luca's Razor? ;)I don't think Luca ever had anything to do with it, and Mat gave the razor to Tuon, so it isn't his anymore either.

FelixPax
02-16-2011, 07:50 AM
I don't think Luca ever had anything to do with it, and Mat gave the razor to Tuon, so it isn't his anymore either.

Tuon gave Luca a warrant or letter of protection.

That's enough of a razor's edge, to see Beslan again. Let alone stopping temporarily an invasion of Tar Valon.

Luca been almost everywhere too~Gonzo.


PS- I guess Gonzo didn't see the razor allusion....

Terez
02-16-2011, 08:30 AM
Felix, stop being a dork and just explain what you are talking about. :p

Daekyras
02-17-2011, 07:09 AM
Felix, stop being a dork and just explain what you are talking about. :p

As a non-american i've always kinda wondered- what is a dork? Oh and what's the difference between a nerd and geek?

Ha, these questions have been inside me since watching "saved by the bell" as a kid. Ah tiffany amber thiessen.....

jana
02-17-2011, 08:20 AM
As a non-american i've always kinda wondered- what is a dork? Oh and what's the difference between a nerd and geek?


These are my opinions. A dork is male genitalia but most people don't consider it that. It's usually used when someone is being an idiot in a unoffensive/non detrimental way. For example, I used to call my mom a dork for laughing at her own lame jokes. It's something I called people I liked though. Not a diss. Nerd is someone who obsesses about things like Star Trek and Lord of the Rings and Wheel of Time to an unhealthy degree and talks about them in public. A lot. They may also dress up in costumes and attend conventions if they're super-nerdy. A geek is someone who obssesses about video games and computers and is probably getting/already has a degree in computer science or engineering or mathematics.

Terez
02-17-2011, 08:42 AM
The distinction I make between geek and nerd (which I think has evolved a good bit since the dawn of the internet) is that a geek is a techie obsession type, whether it's computer programming or a simple cultivation of encyclopedic knowledge about Star Trek or WoT. It includes gamers, but mostly only the good ones. The wannabes are just nerds. Nerds are the kids in school who look funny and dress funny and act weird and aren't all that good at school either. The ones who do all that but still do good in school are geeks.

So basically, a nerd is a geek without the redeeming qualities.

I like your definition of dork though. I use dork a lot, and it's not meant to be offensive. I called Brandon a dork once and he got defensive on me. And I'm like, 'dude, it's okay, I like dorks.'

Daekyras
02-17-2011, 09:42 AM
The distinction I make between geek and nerd (which I think has evolved a good bit since the dawn of the internet) is that a geek is a techie obsession type, whether it's computer programming or a simple cultivation of encyclopedic knowledge about Star Trek or WoT. It includes gamers, but mostly only the good ones. The wannabes are just nerds. Nerds are the kids in school who look funny and dress funny and act weird and aren't all that good at school either. The ones who do all that but still do good in school are geeks.
So basically, a nerd is a geek without the redeeming qualities.
I like your definition of dork though. I use dork a lot, and it's not meant to be offensive. I called Brandon a dork once and he got defensive on me. And I'm like, 'dude, it's okay, I like dorks.'

that's pretty funny T, if you like janas definition and like Dorks...

Anyway, thanks guys, always wanted to know that.

If i was in america would i be a geek? I have knowledge of stuff like that but am also quite sporty. Geek/jock?

Juan
02-17-2011, 01:03 PM
In America, Daek, you would be Chuck Norris.

Madgod
02-17-2011, 01:38 PM
The distinction I make between geek and nerd (which I think has evolved a good bit since the dawn of the internet) is that a geek is a techie obsession type, whether it's computer programming or a simple cultivation of encyclopedic knowledge about Star Trek or WoT. It includes gamers, but mostly only the good ones. The wannabes are just nerds. Nerds are the kids in school who look funny and dress funny and act weird and aren't all that good at school either. The ones who do all that but still do good in school are geeks.

So basically, a nerd is a geek without the redeeming qualities.


Really? That's not the definition I've heard. The one I always heard is a nerd is more general while a geek tends towards one specific thing. So while a nerd will be a gamer and interested in in SF/Fantasy and a techie etc etc, a geek will only really be interested in one of those things.

Zombie Sammael
02-19-2011, 09:07 AM
Occam's Razor is one of the most frequently misunderstood concepts in philosophy. It doesn't mean, as it is often taken to, "The simplest explanation is usually true," it means, "the simplest explanation accounting for all of the evidence is true."

Therefore, if the evidence of a robbery points to 15 clowns doing it whilst riding a unicycle balance on top of an elephant lifting up the store till with a big stick, then that is the true explanation, even when the simpler explanation is "a big bloke done it and run off", because even though two is simpler, it doesn't account for all of the evidence.

Thus, trying to apply Occam's Razor to WOT is largely pointless because at any given time we are never in possession of all of the evidence.

GonzoTheGreat
02-20-2011, 06:52 AM
Occam's Razor is one of the most frequently misunderstood concepts in philosophy. It doesn't mean, as it is often taken to, "The simplest explanation is usually true," it means, "the simplest explanation accounting for all of the evidence is true."Nope, not even that. It is "the simples explanation accounting for the evidence is the one you should accept as the best available representation of the truth".

Therefore, if the evidence of a robbery points to 15 clowns doing it whilst riding a unicycle balance on top of an elephant lifting up the store till with a big stick, then that is the true explanation, even when the simpler explanation is "a big bloke done it and run off", because even though two is simpler, it doesn't account for all of the evidence.The true explanation here could be "150 possums dressed up as a total of 15 clowns ...".
But as there is no reason to add this assumption of each clown being an amalgamate of 10 possums, that explanation would be ruled out by Occam's Razor in favor of the simpler "clowns did it".

Zombie Sammael
02-20-2011, 07:04 AM
Nope, not even that. It is "the simples explanation accounting for the evidence is the one you should accept as the best available representation of the truth".

The true explanation here could be "150 possums dressed up as a total of 15 clowns ...".
But as there is no reason to add this assumption of each clown being an amalgamate of 10 possums, that explanation would be ruled out by Occam's Razor in favor of the simpler "clowns did it".

If there were some piece of evidence suggesting the 150 possums involved, then that would be taken into account by the razor. Occam's Razor is just a caution against speculating beyond the evidence. I think we essentially agree, Gonzo.

GonzoTheGreat
02-20-2011, 07:10 AM
I don't think so. You were saying "it is true", while I say "it should be considered to be true". The latter acknowledges (implicitly, admittedly) uncertainty of the "disguised possums" kind, the former claims that such uncertainty can not exist.

Zombie Sammael
02-20-2011, 07:15 AM
I don't think so. You were saying "it is true", while I say "it should be considered to be true". The latter acknowledges (implicitly, admittedly) uncertainty of the "disguised possums" kind, the former claims that such uncertainty can not exist.

I think it's a really tiny difference, but essentially such uncertainty can't exist because it would be taken into account by the caveat regarding evidence. Essentially there's no point believing something which there is no evidence for. Your version does take into account the possibility of new evidence coming to light while mine appears not to, so I'll accept it as the better version.

Still doesn't change anything about WOT though. We never have all the evidence so we can never really use Occam's Razor.

GonzoTheGreat
02-20-2011, 07:31 AM
You never have all evidence anyway. All the Razor demands is that you use the evindence you have, and no more.

looqas
03-01-2011, 02:08 AM
And the Razor Mat gave to Tuon trampled over the possums dressed up as clowns doing the heist and derailed the whole carefully planned Daniel "Aryth" Ocean's patented plan.

GonzoTheGreat
03-01-2011, 04:28 AM
And the Razor Mat gave to Tuon trampled over the possums dressed up as clowns doing the heist and derailed the whole carefully planned Daniel "Aryth" Ocean's patented plan.Which is, I think, precisely why Demandred foisted that Razor off on Mat. Didn't it strike you as suspicious that Mat could buy the horse for such a low price?

looqas
03-01-2011, 05:37 AM
Which is, I think, precisely why Demandred foisted that Razor off on Mat. Didn't it strike you as suspicious that Mat could buy the horse for such a low price?


Indeed. Now that I think of it the supposedly prime baloney did go a bit cheap. Though I still write it to Mat's ta'vereness. To woo her and fill prophecies and stuff. But then again someone remarks that Dem's hand is clearly seen in south as in southern fixed horse dealing perhaps? hmm....

Jonai
03-01-2011, 05:49 AM
Ah yes, and Taim is considered a prime horse trader.

Heinz
03-01-2011, 10:21 AM
Did Demandred or Taim use the Mask of Mirrors, woven extra fine to hold up to even physical contact, to sell Mat Bela for the price of a razor?

Daekyras
03-02-2011, 10:42 AM
*sigh*

Derailing a thread is only fun when, you know, it's good. Come on guys, you're all much better than this....

nameless
03-02-2011, 12:39 PM
A dork is a male cetacean's reproductive organ. Colloquially it's used to refer to someone who acts goofy or silly. A geek is someone who gets really exuberantly involved with things grown-ups don't usually get so excited over, such as comic books, their favorite TV show, video games, rare collectible toys, and so on.

I don't really like Orson Scott Card's work apart from Ender's Game, but he did write something about Occam's Razor that stuck with me. To paraphrase, "Occam was a medieval old fart and to him the simplest explanation was always 'God did it' or 'the lady next door is a witch.'" If you want a really accurate version of the principle behind Occam's Razor you need to rephrase it to something along the lines of "in the absence of evidence to the contrary, assume that the simplest explanation is the most probable."

GonzoTheGreat
03-03-2011, 05:30 AM
I think that Einstein said:
"Keep it simple. As simple as possible, but no simpler."