In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

Occam’s Razor and Red Doors

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This Razer is far more impressive. (Edited: Wikimedia Commons)

Thugs attacked houses in Middlesborough, throwing stones and eggs at the windows, smearing excrement, and scratching National Front symbols into the wooden doors [1]. According to the residents, who had sought asylum within Britain, their homes were identifiable by the red doors on the properties.

These attacks are reprehensible. Andy McDonald MP (Labour, Middlesborough), the Shadow Transport Minister, said this “reminds you of Germany in the 1930s”. The Times had identified 168 houses owned by the firm Jomast in poorer areas of Middlesborough, and found 155 had red doors. The accusation became that the properties were painted with red doors in order to identify its residents as refugees.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor is a heuristic, suggesting that the simplest explanations are usually correct. In the words attributed to Occam: plurality should be posited without necessity (pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate) [2].

Out of the possible explanations, it is simpler that the company hired a person with one colour of paint to decorate the doors, or had wanted to paint almost all of their properties the same colour. By contrast, the idea that Jomast had deliberately done this would require them to paint their doors in a particular colour based solely on the nature of their tenants, and then distribute this fact to nefarious forces.

Stuart Monk, the owner of Jomast, went before the Home Affairs Select Committee about this potential scandal [3].

In answer to a question by Keith Vaz MP (Labour, Leicester East), the chair of the Home Affairs Select Commitee, who asked if there was “no deliberate decision to the paint those properties in red”, Mr Monk replied: “Exactly”. Mr Monk had highlighted the doors were painted in colour 20 years ago, and only 59% of properties in the town occupied by those seeking asylum had red doors.

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The homes in Middlesborough have been repainted. (Source: Sky News)

The doors have now been repainted [4]. Those responsible for these attacks should be brought to justice.

References

[1] Sky News, 2016. Red Doors Make Asylum Seekers A Target. Available from: http://news.sky.com/story/1626135/red-doors-make-asylum-seekers-a-target [Accessed: 28th January 2016]

[2] Duignan, B., 2015. Occam’s Razor. Encyclopedia Brittanica. Available from: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Occams-razor [Accessed: 28th January 2016]

[3] Clark, R., 2016. A select committee revelation: the doors were painted 20 years ago. The Spectator. Available from: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/news-from-todays-select-committee-the-doors-were-painted-red-20-years-ago/ [Accessed: 28th January 2016]

[4] Sky News, 2016. Asylum Seekers’ Red Doors Painted Over. Available from: http://news.sky.com/story/1630075/asylum-seekers-red-doors-painted-over [Accessed: 28th January 2016]

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2016 by in National Politics and tagged .
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