Thursday, May 08, 2008

Simple truths

As I reflected on the Patriots "scandal" earlier today, I started to realize that I sound like a broken record, and some of you may think that I'm a bit loopy.
 
But....then I realized that my motivation has everything to do with a situation that in a very real sense impacts my favorite sport, one to which I am particularly devoted, and spend considerable time and energy on.  The Patriots rose to prominence, and could literally insert any player and be good.  In this era of parity, salary caps, coach movement, and free agency, New England has been beyond good.  They've been, well, exceptional. 
 
As I've stated before,their win percentage, margin of victory, and other statistics defy belief for any sport (they are so far outside the norm, that its not beliveable nor probable).  And that leads me back to a simple truth: Occam's razor.
 
From Wikipedia:
It is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae ("law of parsimony" or "law of succinctness"): "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem", or "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity".
 
This is often paraphrased as "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.
 
And that would mean that the key to New England's success is the simplest solution - they created a competitive imbalance to tip the scales in their favor. 
 
Videotaping, watching practices, learning signals.  Any one of those things might help, but all of them together would be game altering, and therefore cheating.
 
Consider it.  Bellicheat pulled together a few simple things, and created an advantage.  Its the thing that makes the most sense, and it follows the principle laid out by Occam himself.
 
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