Hello there my loyal followers. Hope you are all doing well as winter looms and the cold nights begin to draw in? Incredibly I’ve just realised that my blogging website has now been running for over four years! It’s amazing how a simple hobby has turned into a cathartic long term project. My aim was always to help raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of dyslexia and help people along the way. It’s been truly wonderful to receive such positive feedback and comments from both people I personally know and don’t know. I thank you all tremendously for your ongoing support and kindness.
As I sat one evening contemplating hibernation, as I really do not like cold weather, my mind drifted back to my student days of pouring over various Psychological, Sociological and Philosophical terms and theories. In the past few weeks I had mentioned Occam’s razor Theory a fair few times, a theory I hadn’t thought much about for quite some time. Also referred to as the Law of Parsimony, this Philosophical principle was developed by fourteenth century Theologian William of Occam. In a nut shell the theory outlines that simpler explanations can be better than more complex ones. Within human behaviour a naturally occurring heuristic or cognitive shortcut is to prefer simpler explanations, as these are easier to understand and process, are less overwhelming and thus are more likely to be believed and accepted (The Decision Lab, 2022). Known as the Simplicity Principle within the field of Cognitive Psychology, the razor part of the theory represents an analogy of “shaving off” and removing unnecessary details and overly complex explanations (Gershman & Niv, 2013).
The theory has succumbed to some scrutiny. Most notably it has been labelled as somewhat reductionist, as it can ignore and disregard solutions and explanations that may be more complex and potentially correct. This can be particularly relevant to medicine as the science around diagnosis, treatment and recovery is not always based on the simplest answer and explanation (Psychreg, 2016).
Nonetheless, although this theoretical principle can have its limitations, it can be highly useful, productive and beneficial in some situations and circumstances. Some of the best experiences, sensations and feelings are based on simple phenomena. For example the classic yet simple combination of chocolate and orange, the feeling of when your team score a last minute winner and seeing a loved one smile. Ultimately, this got me thinking, which to be honest is always a bit dangerous with me, could this philosophical term be relatable to dyslexia? The answer was yes.
Since my official diagnosis and during my time of working with individuals with dyslexia the coping strategies, life hacks, tips and tricks and reasonable adjustments dyslexics can adopt in their everyday life are absolutely vital. Emphasised in a previous blog post, these coping strategies are unique to each individual and can be developed over time depending on how a person learns and works best (Discussing the Dyslexic Brain, 2019). It is highly important for dyslexics and fellow neurodivergents to be kind to themselves and discover what easy and simple to adopt strategies can have a beneficial impact on their lives. Embracing Occam’s Razor Theory, some of the simple but yet highly effective strategies I have developed include: using a read aloud function to proof read emails, driving an automatic rather than a manual car, creating spreadsheet trackers to organise and keep track of expenditure and making lists of my outstanding tasks. These simple additions do make such a difference; particularly using the read aloud function on emails and word documents. Not only does it save time it prevents me from straining my eyes and becoming fatigued when trying to proof read. To be perfectly truthful I wish I had started using it earlier in my adult life.
As has been explored Occam’s Razor Theory, despite its evident limitations, can be applied and adopted in parts of daily human life. For dyslexics establishing and adapting simple but highly effective coping strategies, ‘life hacks’ and techniques can bring huge rewards and help reduce the struggles in daily tasks.
Discussing The Dyslexic Brain. (2019). Coping With The Dyslexic Brain.
Frings, D. (2016). Psychreg. How can We Apply Reductionism and Occam’s razor in Real Life?
Gershman, S, J & Niv, Y. (2013) Perceptual Estimation Obeys Occam’s Razor, Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 623.
The Decision Lab (2022). Occam’s razor.