“Rapid onset gender dysphoria” and the principle of parsimony

Zinnia Jones

Someone once quoted Shakespeare to the philosopher W. V. O. Quine: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The remark was meant as a put-down, a sort of “Yeah, what do you know?” To which Quine is said to have responded: “Possibly, but my concern is that there not be more things in my philosophy than are in heaven and earth.”

Chet Raymo

The principle of parsimony is a guideline in the formulation of scientific theories, stating that when many hypotheses are available to explain a given phenomenon, the simplest hypothesis with the fewest assumptions is preferable. Commonly phrased as Occam’s razor – “the simplest explanation is usually the correct one” – this principle cautions against adding unneeded complexity: “entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity”. This guidance encourages steering clear of constructing elaborate Rube Goldberg devices in the realm of theory, heaping on needless and extravagant ornamentation when simpler explanations will suffice to explain the evidence at hand.

Proponents of rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) might instead be said to follow the principle of ontological incontinence: multiply as many entities as you like, with no regard for necessity, and the more the better. In many ways, the original sin of ROGD is its sheer redundancy – its insistence on proffering new and convoluted explanations for phenomena that are already accounted for by existing explanations.

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About Zinnia Jones

My work focuses on insights to be found across transgender sociology, public health, psychiatry, history of medicine, cognitive science, the social processes of science, transgender feminism, and human rights, taking an analytic approach that intersects these many perspectives and is guided by the lived experiences of transgender people. I live in Orlando with my family, and work mainly in technical writing.
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