|William of Occam|
Occam's Razor provides a central insight in all forms of intellectual endeavour, but nowhere does it matter more than in the formation of policy, because in politics the facts and the logical conclusions from these facts matter most when they come with bad, or at least unwelcome, news. Facts always matter, but when they happen to align with our desires, they have only a marginal influence on policy. After all, we seldom turn from doing something we want to do because the facts and logic affirm our choices. Living by the truth only really counts as a virtue when it includes a willingness to live by truths we find unpleasant.
Occam's Razor plays a vital role in this process, by cutting down the number of conclusions possible from any given set of facts. If I write a computer program and the test runs keep providing the wrong output, I can conclude I have made an error somewhere in my logic, or I can decide the operating system has an arcane defect my program has somehow stumbled into, a system error capable of evading detection for decades, and one invoked by only the tiniest set of circumstances. While such things happen, Occam's Razor tells me to start looking for errors in my own work.