Since studying French in high school, I’ve always had a sense for the absurdity of life. How could you not when you are reading Sartre, Camus, and Ionesco (n’est-ce pas)? Every now and then the universe reminds you of this absurdity when you aren’t expecting it.
While researching the just released 2016 Inc. 5000 list, I sorted the 2016 list by Business Products and Services and Occam’s Paradigm was next to Razor Consulting Services. Occam’s Paradigm named its company after a philosophical statement made by William of Occam commonly called Occam’s Razor.
Here is an explanation of Occam’s Razor from the Occam’s Paradigm Facebook page:
His widely quoted principle known as Occam’s razor recommends the selection, among competing hypotheses, of the one that makes the fewest assumptions and by extension offers the simplest explanation of the effect. Occam’s razor recommends that one should always opt for an explanation in terms of the fewest possible number of causes, factors, or variables. Occam’s Razor is frequently expressed in the statement, ‘Entia non sunt mul- tiplicanda sine necessitate’ that is ‘Beings are not to be multiplied beyond necessity’. Put simply – ‘Other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one’. He used simplicity as a criterion of concept formation and theory construction.
So what is the simplest explanation that one can posit concerning the humorous juxtaposition of these two companies on a list? Was the universe showing a sense of humor or simply being random?
To get a feel for the likelihood of this event, I went into Avention’s Global Business Browser and found there were 11.3 million US private independent and parent companies (I omitted subs and branches as the Inc. list is based upon overall company performance). Of these, 688 had the word razor in their name. Thus, the odds of Occam’s Paradigm being next to a “razor” company is
688 * 2 / 11,300,000 = .012%
or roughly 1 in 8,000. This is basically the odds of rolling a Yahtzee of all Sixes (five dice) on the first roll (1 / 6^5)
So 1 in 8,000 seems high, but our brains are designed to spot anomalies such as
Occam NEAR Razor
Once you adjust for the fact that I was scanning through multiple filtered lists, I probably scanned thousands of potential pairs for coincidences. Applying Occam’s Razor, the universe wasn’t winking at me, it was simply exhibiting randomness.