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Life Lessons from Schwarzenegger (movies) No.1 : Keep It Simple (aka Epistemological reasoning and Occam’s Razor applied to Predator)

From Predator

” If it bleeds, we can kill it”

Scenario:

you’re a marine in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle and you’re hunted by a creature that skins its victims, sees in the dark, and recently killed a whole bunch of Green Berets straight out of Fort Bragg.

And oh yeah, it’s also F**KING INVISIBLE

and when it does show itself, it looks like this….

"One ugly mother f**ker....."

How would you size up the situation? I’m guessing your response to that would be to crap your pants and shoot yourself.

What would Arnold do?

His assessment is simple: If it bleeds, we can kill it.

The Philosophy of William Occam

Ever heard of William of Occam and Occams’ Razor?

Not Schwarzenegger, but almost as awesome

Basically this 14th Century philosopher was either brilliant or damn lazy when he said

“It is vain to do with more what can be done with less”

Sounds to me like a fancy way of saying “do the least amount of work possible”. Anyhow, Occam’s Razor is a principle now attributed to his Philosophy and basically states:

“between competing hypotheses, everything else being equal the one with the least amount of new assumptions is preferred”

i.e

when you dont know what the hell is going on, the simplest explanation would have to suffice.

Logical deduction- So what does this have to do with killing the Predator?

After unloading a whole cache of ammo into the general direction of the fleet-footed Predator, Arnold and his merry men found what they believe to be the creature’s blood (which glows bright green).

And since it was in the early afternoon, there could’nt possibly have been a rave going on in the jungles of Guatemala at that time. It is then safe to assume that the luminescent fluid was not from some punk’s glo-stick, but more likely from the creature they just shot at.

 

Nope. No rave going on here

Which brings me back to the Arnold’s logical reasoning

Condition A: The creature bleeds
Condition B: Things that bleed are usually killable

Therefore, if the creature bleeds, it is killable.

So how do i apply this to my life

When there is a problem:

i) Don’t Over analyze
Over thinking a problem results in Analysis Paralysis. When you’re hunted by a creature that traveled light years just to hunt you for sport you dont have the luxury of time to get full visibility of all possible factors before you respond. You gotta either chase after it or get to the chopper.

ii) be prepared to make decisions without 100% information
did Arnold know that the Predator was an alien? Did he know it stays invisible through light refraction technology? Did he know that by the end of the movie all his men would die?

No.

He knew only one thing: that the creature can be killed. And that was all that was enough for him to make the decision to kill it.

iii) Complex problems do not always require complex solutions
In Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, the authors caution that we often feel compelled to meet the challenge of a huge problem with an equally enormous response, which is not always necessary.

The Predator bends light around it and renders itself invisible to its prey. How did Arnold match his foe in concealing himself? Was it with cutting edge technology that could only come from another galaxy? No.

He just covered himself with mud.

An elegant solution to a complex problem

Exercise for you

Next time you face a difficult situation, ask yourself if you are over-thinking it, imagining it as worse than what it actually is and then start with the simplest, most immediate step you can take towards making it better.


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About lionelsnotes

I started ranting in Facebook notes, now il just rant here instead. Seems...neater

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