The Definition Of A Good Day And Occam’s Razor


Hi folks,

Dave Deming heads off to deliver a tree for Johnny from Johnny's Gone Fishing. From:

Dave Deming heads off to deliver a tree for Johnny from Johnny's Gone Fishing. From:

Well, I had a good day today. Two people said that they had started working out because I had inspired them. Something to do with my running and biking and swimming and going to the gym all the time, I guess. But that was nice. The other ‘good thing’ happened at the store we are re-opening, Johnny’s Gone Fishing. We have been giving away complimentary bagels (apologies to Gary Taubes), coffee, and hot chocolate to bring back the old clients. This Saturday a young man with three cute kids told me in passing about his sore heel that was messing up his running. Fair chance that he has a case of plantar fasciitis in its early stages. I talked about the condition, based on my own experience of this most frustrating of all running problems, and gave him a roller lesson on the spot and emphasized the importance of a correct diagnosis.

My two business partners, Jan (left) and Erica (right) who decided to work out more based on my inspiration. Ellen (center) makes great pound cakes.

My two business partners, Jan (left) and Erica (right) who decided to work out more based on my inspiration. Ellen (center) makes great pound cakes.

I was 99% sure of plantar fasciitis, which a couple of other friends have fixed based on my roller advice. It feels good to make a positive difference in people’s lives. However, was my diagnosis correct?  This brings me once again to that old razor of Occam or Ockham, which is defined in Wikipedia as follows:

“Occam’s razor, also known as Ockham’s razor, and sometimes expressed in Latin as lex parsimoniae (the law of parsimony, economy or succinctness), is a principle that generally recommends from among competing hypotheses selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.”

My training as a veterinary pathologist was directed towards working out mechanisms of disease. If there were many concurrent lesions (upset tissues) in the affected animal, I was trained to search for a common cause that could account for all of them. The sore heel was easy enough. I might be wrong, and that remains to be seen. My real interest today lies in my own case of concurrent abdominal aortic aneurysm, severe hyperlipidemia, and an inability to handle barefoot running due to tendonitis in my feet that I just could not eliminate. I suspect that there is a common molecular mechanism that links these three. Anyone out there know what it is? Probably related to elastic tissue repair, I suspect.

So, in spite of what Dirty Harry had to say about ‘knowing your limitations,’ I think that the real trick is to know your complete phenotype, positive and negative, and work with both of them to your advantage.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. And the little boy looked up at the emperor and said “What’s a ‘phenotype positive and negative’?”.

  2. Hi Trevor,
    No clothes? Jargon?
    I guess you’re right. I’ve used such words in my daily life for so long that they seem normal to me. Maybe my editor could dejargonize my writing, in addition to continually fixing commas and hyphens?

  3. Pauline Watson says

    Interesting observation about Ockham’s razor and selecting the hypothesis with fewer new assumptions, as related to your AAA/hyperlipidemia/tendinitis in feet.
    When I was being tested for genetic causes of AAA (which they didn’t find), there were several physical characteristics they were interested in – such as hyperflexibility, which I have in my hands – my grandparents were musicians; hamstrings – I can put my hands flat on the floor. I think others were early osteoarthritis and short sightedness. It could possibly be a connective tissue disorder, but not one for which they have not yet identified the genetic basis?

  4. Could also be associated with occupation and lifestyle. (eg Building workers and lower back problems, etc..)
    Then again a cocktail of genes and occupation and lifestyle with ageing thrown in to add to the mix…

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.