First of all, before you see the answer, make sure you’ve seen the question.
I asked to figure out what happened between this picture:
And this one:
If you said anything other than, “The ice cube melted,” then congratulations! You’ve already realized that once someone has set out to trick you, the simplest answer is no longer necessarily the best. Of course, in this case, you most likely knew I was setting out to trick you.
However, unless you went and looked at my Flickr account, the chances of you figuring out exactly what happened between the two pictures are slim.
The first thing I did was smash the cube with a “Rainbow Tumbling Towers” game tin:
This left it in chunks:
Then, I had it rest under a juggling silk for a few seconds:
Then, I surrounded it with Buddha statues for about thirty seconds:
Then I smashed it with a dirty pot:
This left ice chips:
I brushed the ice chips away:
Leaving a slightly wet table:
I dried the table off:
Dumped some water on the table:
And put one of the shattered ice chips in the puddle:
Which leaves us with the “second” picture:
Now, if I were faced with such a dirty trick, I would say the following:
“Well, if I actually applied Occam’s Razor to this, my conclusion would be, ‘Paul did something bizarre to the ice cube between the two shots,’ and I would be right.”
To this, I would say, that’s only because I let you in on what I was doing. The very fact that I asked you to determine what happened between them in the context of illustrating how Occam’s Razor becomes less useful once creativity and/or fiction is employed set up this expectation.
From what I’ve seen, the true thrust of Occam’s Razor as it applies to art or fiction with most people is not its usefulness in determining what “actually happened” but rather, “How much should I care?”
In its application, I basically see variations on the following statement, “This is a simple story of [PROTAGONIST] [DOING SOME ACTION]. Anything more you read into it is your own deal, not the author’s intention.”
I’ve also seen this applied to poetry, song lyrics, pictures, etc.
What I hope to have illustrated is that once you apply human intent to a situation, the simplest answer is not always correct. Human beings are irrational, creative creatures.
Occam’s Razor has its uses, but it’s a poor tool to use when contemplating art.