Living with uncertainty is a constant in life. We calculate and live with risk every time we step out of the door. One of those uncertainties comes from the practicality of relying on fallible human beings to operate mechanisms with which we have insufficient personal experience while we deal with other risks more within our control.
During the Middle Ages, an English monk and philosopher named William of Occam formulated a famous axiom of epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge) for dealing with such uncertainties. Known as Occam’s Razor, it states that if there are two or more potential explanations for a phenomenon, the simplest explanation is the most likely. Conspiracy theories rarely meet this standard since they require a geometric complexity of meetings, agreements and people to achieve the goal, which must all be accomplished in secret. There is inevitably a simpler and more direct explanation for the result.
Now, let’s apply this analysis to the results of the presidential election. We’ll start with the RealClearPolitics tabulations, which has not yet called the election for Biden. On their site, Biden has 259 electoral votes to President Trump’s 214. They awarded Nevada and Wisconsin to Biden, but still show Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania undecided. If we award him Alaska and North Carolina (where he is currently leading), it brings him to 232 electoral votes. In order to win, Trump must then prevail in a Wisconsin recount and overcome Biden leads in Pennsylvania and either Georgia or Arizona. Alternatively, he can lose the Wisconsin recount and win if he wins in Pennsylvania and both Arizona and Georgia. This requires him to find or invalidate at least 76,000 votes in three states with different voting systems and in multiple counties. Any fraudulent conspiracy that could have produced those votes would require an interstate series of agreements and the cooperation of tens, if not hundreds, of people in each state. Moreover, the vast majority of those involved would have to keep the scheme a secret. Even if you believe the gap was caused by a series of election defects or mistakes, it would require different sources of malfunctions in multiple jurisdictions that would result in a 76,000 vote difference.
There is no question that voting irregularities or mistakes should be investigated and rectified. However, the likelihood that irregularities occurring across multiple jurisdictions and using different voting methods produced a gap of over 75,000 votes is extremely small. There is a much simpler explanation – that the votes were cast by voters who indeed voted for Biden. The results were close and not the “blue wave” the Democrats expected. It would not be the first time significant numbers of voters split their votes for President and Congress between the parties and disappointed both sides. But it is a well-known electoral phenomenon and the simplest and most likely explanation of the election results.
It is thus time for all Americans to congratulate former Vice President Biden and Sen Harris on their victory and give them the titles they have won – President and Vice President-elect. Republicans should insist on an investigation of any irregularities, but not expect a miracle. America needs to move on and American nationalists need to begin building and advocating their inevitable policy differences with the new administration. If we do so positively and intelligently, we can still win important battles in the next four years and beyond.