Monday, July 28, 2008

Occams Razor

There is a lurker out there. Seems to be a nice guy and he leaves polite and thoughtful messages. But one of the messages he wrote recently concerns me. I am asking in advance for forbearance from him for refuting him without contacting him first, but it seems that that is the cost of being a lurker.

Anyway. He set a link to a site that explained how maybe peak oil is a head fake by the ruling elite to force the shift to nuclear, which would be more susceptible to the powers-that-be's control and would allow the further entrenchment of the current power elite.

Folks. You have to assign probabilities in this life. Maybe the tenets proposed in this theory are true, but I have to assign this theory a probability of <1%.

Here are my reasons for assigning such a low probability.

  • The powers that be have some intelligence. I believe that this is refuted by reality almost every day.
  • The powers that be aren't completely in over their heads right now. Iraq, the housing implosion, the baby boom retiring, Israel and Iran posturing, sytematic looting by the current administration. All of these things combined are out of the reach of solutions, now you want me to believe that a secret cabal can surreptitiously put through a shift in primary power sources?
  • That we haven't known and ignored the oil was running out for the last 50 years. L. King Hubbard wrote his article in 1958.
  • That nuclear power is sustainable. Fissionable material is incredibly rare. Think about the drain on that resource if we start building reactors in a serious way.
  • That a secret can be kept.
  • I know that it tempting to think that there is a lot of oil there and we can keep our happy lifestyles if we really wanted, but the facts don't point that way.

    William of Occam and his "Least Hypothesis" says that "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.

    Lurker my friend. The overwhelming odds are that we are running out of oil. Your link and the idea posited may very well be true, but a person would be a fool to bet money on it.

    4 comments: said...

    Yes, always go with the least astonishing answer. It could be extraterrestrials causing all these problems with some hidden agenda in mind. But I don't think so. More likely, peak oil is simply a matter of supply and demand.

    Anonymous said...

    No offense taken Degringolade, it ain't a popularity contest, and being a subset of a subset (i.e.e survivalists) isn't getting me invited to lots of parties.

    We shall see what happens, but if oil doesn't drop below $100/barrel by this time next year, even in our newly devalued dollars, I'll send you a silver eagle!

    There is plenty of oil to be had from shale, coal, etc. for under $100 per barrel--but like a frog in a pot, if prices rise slowly people won't change their behavior--this is the 'quick boil,' and demand destruction is here in the USA now and coming to a world near you over the next 12 months.

    I'll ask for your address next July, though I'm betting I don't need it!


    Bustednuckles said...

    Optimistic fellow.

    Degringolade said...

    Lurker my friend, if oil is <$100 next July, I will be absolutely thrilled to present you with a shiny silver eagle.

    I will be way ahead and I genuinely hope that you are right.