Children, Lunatics and Occam’s Razor

I came home yesterday to 3 of my 5 children (whom we’ll lovingly refer to as A, B, C, D, and E) wearing war paint (see: markers) that the oldest (A) had drawn on all of them. A, B and C all had various weapons.   A was carrying a plastic sword, B’s weapons were her fists so she could “slap them dead”. This is very normal behavior for B. C was carrying a basket full of rocks, and A, B and C had booby-trapped A and B’s room.


“The Lunatic is hiding mommy and we’re going to get him!”

Uh…. The what?

It turns out that someone in a mask, in the house, had spooked them. They came to the conclusion that it was someone they deemed “The Lunatic”. The only information they had to go off was that this person was an adult, with brown hair and wearing a mask.

I decided this would be a good lesson in philosophy and the art of thinking.

So I introduced them to Occam’s Razor, which states:

When faced with multiple choices, choose the one that takes the least assumptions. 

So we started gathering information. 

What do you know?

They told me that they knew this person had brown hair and wore a mask. They also knew that this person did not set off the dogs, who bark at everything and everyone. They also noticed that they didn’t see daddy when they saw the linatic, but after the linatic left, they saw daddy again. Also, the lunatic was definitely am adult. They searched the entire house and couldn’t find The Lunatic. 

What conclusions can we draw from this information?

The Lunatic was either daddy or a stranger. 

What assumptions must be made with each conclusion?


  • The stranger got into the house without the children, daddy or the dogs noticing. 
  • The stranger got out of the house without alerting anyone as well.
  • The stranger was able to time it so that they were there at the exact time daddy was not.


  • The hair on The Lunatic was the same as daddies.

By applying Occam’s Razor, which conclusion is most likely?


Is there a way we can verify that claim?

(This one took them a little bit, but finally they said…)

Oh! We should ask him! 

So we got up and went out to talk to R and ask him if he was The Lunatic. A asked him, and R said…

You got me!

They were so incredibly proud of themselves. Their faced just beamed. That made their night. 

I’m so proud of them too, but my first thought running through my head after he fessed up?

“And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids and that mom too!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s