How to Use Occam’s Razor

We all experience circumstances that we know cannot be due to coincidental. We see things on our digital devices that we interpret as evidence our devices are “spying,” as they “know” what we want. I had such an experience earlier this week.

I needed an address… a real address where I was sending a piece of “snail mail.” I send email to it once or twice each year and I know it is in an email that I received from the organization that receives the envelope. I opened an older laptop in my fleet–the one that is configured to use my 10-year old printer–and opened the email client. You guessed it, the email containing the address opened!

My computer seemed to know that I needed that email!

The conspiracy theorists among us could keep busy for hours contriving explanations, each more convoluted than the other. Humans are very skilled at creating patterns and explanations where none really exist.

After being startled at this needed email appearing when it, I applied Occam’s Razor to the situation. I found the simplest explanation to be rather boring. I rarely use that computer on which I found the email. Even more rarely, I open the email client on it. The last time I opened that email client was when I last needed that address. I found it and closed the client. When I next launched it, that email was still open for me to see.

I left the email open. Let’s see if I am startled next year when I need it again.