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A Useful New Heuristic: Bud’s Razor

Posted By Eric Augenbraun On August 9, 2011 @ 1:30 pm In Discovery,Uncategorized | 4 Comments

NotGraphs readers who are also fans of science (or charlatans who pretend to be fans of science but have just seen that one episode of the Fox program House) are likely familiar with the heuristic known as Occam’s Razor. If you are unfamiliar with Occam’s Razor, it essentially states that when presented with two or more competing hypotheses, we should tend to the one that requires making the fewest new assumptions.

But I am not here today to talk about Occam’s Razor. I am here to introduce to you an exciting new heuristic that can help us better understand and even predict human behavior. Well, the behavior of one human.

It is called Bud’s Razor and I have defined it as such:

Given any issue on which he must make a decision, the wrongest decision is the one Bud Selig is most likely to make.

While this has been in the testing phase for the better part of a decade, the recent three game suspension handed down to Shane Victorino and only Shane Victorino for a brawl that saw Ramon Ramirez peg him with a pitch and charge the plate and saw Eli Whiteside (feebly attempt to) tackle Placido Polanco — which I accurately predicted using Bud’s Razor — has confirmed its usefulness.

Not quite convinced? Let us look at some test cases.

1. The All-Star Game has just ended in a tie because both teams, in the spirit of this utterly meaningless exhibition game, exhausted their benches to give everyone a chance to share in the fun.

Bud Selig…

A. Leaves the All-Star Game unaltered in subsequent years, recognizing that it is, after all, just a meaningless exhibition game.

B. Makes home field advantage in the World Series contingent on the outcome of the game in subsequent years.

2. It is game five of the World Series. The home team leading the series 3-1. In the sixth inning with the home team leading 2-1 it has begun to rain torrentially — as many meteorologists predicted would happen well before the game started — making it impossible for the pitcher to grip the ball and leaving the field unplayable.

Bud Selig…

A. Calls for a rain delay before the completion of the inning with an understanding that the World Series is an important enough stage for him to exercise his executive privilege as Commissioner of Major League Baseball and suspend an official game should the weather not permit its continuance.

B. Lets the inning continue and prays like heck that the visiting team ties the score so a suspension of play can be can be justified under the rules. This is important because it would be too embarrassing to alter the rules as in choice A and could potentially lead to a public outcry.

Footnote: If it is the case that Selig informed both teams that the World Series would not be decided by a rain-shortened game before the game even started, then the choice becomes even easier, as it would make even less sense to continue playing the game in a downpour.

3. Upon receiving a letter from an autograph collector regarding Selig’s position on the Mills Commission, responsible for promulgating the theory that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball

Bud Selig…

A. Responds by restating the thoroughly-debunked position that Abner Doubleday did indeed invent the game of baseball.

B. Responds by stating that the game evolved in multiple places with input from numerous sources.

If you answered B,B,A, then you have successfully applied Bud’s Razor. Bud Selig did each one of those things!

Bud’s Razor certainly isn’t a 100 percent infallible predictive tool. As they say: Even a broken clock is right twice a day and even Bud Selig is right once a year. However, in the overwhelming majority of cases, Bud’s Razor will allow you to express your outrage at his incorrect decisions before he has even made them.


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