It is still summer, and it’s been too warm to function

The heat has made us seek shelter, both in the form of shade and in the form of open bodies of water. Of course, observing Mark half-naked with nothing on but his speedos is not a thing that will bring peace of mind.

Mostly that means that I sit and glower in all directions and growl to anyone that casts a glance in his direction that “He’s mine. He’s my preciousssss. Hands off you filthy Bagginses! Mine!” Okay, that may, or may not be, an exaggeration. I’ll leave you to decide which it is, based on your reading of this blog so far…

The weather has also kept us out of the house to the extent that Auntie had to ask if we planned on leaving the animals with her. We asked her to take them in over the day on Monday; then again on Wednesday. And now on Friday. “Will you too make up your mind?” I think that’s how she put it. Her question may have included swear words.

Mark’s mother zipped in for the rescue, and whisked the dogs off to Wiltshire. The cat stayed with Auntie. She’s more of a cat person anyway. And besides, the cat is a low-maintenance animal that doesn’t demand constant attention and walkies like the dogs do. He’s almost as non-demanding as Spikey the Cactus whose girth grows and grows with just a watering once a week.

Next week will be busier for us. The academic social calendar will spike up, and we have to get involved in a couple of things that will require that we put on more clothes and pretend to be responsible members of society again. Mark’s faculty has a summer reception, and it will be a good opportunity for him to geek it out with his peers.

I have volunteered for a more informal thing at my old college. I’m going to do what university students here did when I went there, and go and go and interrupt their summer holiday to tell them how horrid university life really is. Okay, I’m joking. But it’s a sign that when I start to write my final paper, I’ll have to do a lot more presentations all the time. If I retreat to the library this year to smell the dusty tomes, a gaggle of people will follow me there, and I’ll have to explain things to them all the time.

What is more pressing is that it’s going to be so strange to go back to my old college. I haven’t been there for years. I wonder if it’s the same, still. I wonder if the teachers are still there. When I went to visit my old school in Sweden with Mark, when we visited Sweden a couple of years ago, it was the strangest feeling being there. Now, it’s a bit like that too.

Since we’re two pasty English people, I’ve burned my back in the sun, and I can’t sleep because as soon as I lie down, my back torments me. So, I sit here in the quiet of the middle of the night with tea, computer games, and write this blog. This is bliss, isn’t it?

Occam’s Razor repurposed to ‘Trump’s Razor’ and, additionally, “Boris’ Razor”

There’s a quote by Thomas of Aquinas that I like to dust off every time I meet a religious person who wants me to “understand” their point of view, and “respect the difference of opinion”. The quote goes like this:

“The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.”

It is good to keep in mind that the Scholastics weren’t much for fuzzy logic. They spent lifetimes debating logic with rigour and precision. For instance, perhaps the most famous logical rule is from this school. It was the Scholastic William of Occam who coined “Occam’s Razor” which states: “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” The scholastics weren’t woolly thinkers; not one bit.

There is a powerful kinship between the Scholastics and the later Empiricists of the scientific area. It’s no accident. The empiricists grew out of the Scholastic movement during the renaissence, and they use many of the same mind-tools, techniques, and ideals. The difference between Scholasticism and Empiricism is that while Scholasticism used inductive logic, Empiricism use deductive logic.

Inductive reasoning is where the premise of a hypothesis sets the outcome of the exercise. Deductive reasoning is where the facts shape the outcome of the reasoning. So, if you start with a premise that “God exists” then inductive reasoning looks for facts to support that premise. With deductive reasoning you start with “Does God exist?” and the answer to the question, with its supporting fact, decide the answer. Inductive reasoning looks for facts that supports a predetermined answer. That makes all the difference and is the reason why scholasticism failed and empiricism triumphed.

Because of all this, the modern religious-leaning conservative would have been slaughtered by the Scholastics. They would have held the conservatives in utter contempt as lazy and non-rigorous thinkers. When John Scalzi recently coined the term “Trump’s Razor” in memory of Occam, it fit very well. I’d like to extend the metaphor, and create a corollary: “Boris’ Razor”.

“Trump’s Razor” means according to John Marshall of Talking Points Memo that “the stupidest possible scenario that could be reconciled with the available facts and went with it, that almost always turned out to be right.”

To create that corollary razor, to sit along side of Occam’s and Trump’s, I’d like to see a “Boris’ Razor” that would mean “that the most untrue scenario that could be constructed from a preset premise, that will inevitably spill out of Boris Johnson’s mouth in the most embarrasing way possible for this country”.