The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Ockham’s Razor and Our Washing Machine

June 5th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Posted in rural life


Ockham’s Razor is the principle that states the simplest explanation for things is to be preferred over the more complicated.

It’s named for 14th Century philosopher William of Ockham, who rejected the idea of multiple hypotheses for most problems. The fewest number of causes should explain just about anything, said the good friar.

Thus, if your new, high-tech LG washing machine soon after delivery begins squealing like a banshee, do not assume that it is suffering some horrible malfunction built into the works at the factory. Instead, simply tip it up and remove the large block of Styrofoam packing material that’s lodged underneath the drum.

Had we been thinking like Ockham, we might have saved numerous agonizing telephone calls to the customer service department at Home Depot. Fortunately, our calls reached a sympathetic employee who took pity on us because we are still trying to move from the District of Columbia to our new farm in Upstate New York.

Normally you only get 48 hours in which to return a malfunctioning machine. After that, you are left to the mercy of the Service Department. In fact, we had set a date for a serviceman to come look at our squealing banshee (unable to hear over it during the rinse cycle). But my wife–who correctly posited that “washing machines are not supposed to sound like that”–had second thoughts and we went back to Option A, which was to have a crew return to the house in New York and haul the offending machine away.

A week passed and this morning two men in blue work suits backed their truck into the driveway and prepared to haul. I went outside to check on the sheep. I hadn’t gotten halfway to the pasture when one of the men appeared at the door, shouted something and waved me back.

“Does the machine make a sound like it’s rubbing against Styrofoam?” the tall, bearded worker inquired.

“Why yes,” I said. “I suppose it does.”

I just happened to have a video of the machine in the act of making those horrible noises. We watched that. Then the man produced a large block of Styrofoam that was supposed to have been removed with the rest of the packing material when the washer was delivered a month earlier. Sure enough, the block of Styrofoam had been lodged under the washer the entire time, rubbing against the drum.

The lesson in all this is–what? Always lift your washer and look for Styrofoam underneath if it’s making strange noises?

Ockham, apparently, would say, Yes. Something like that.

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  • Diane

    We had a similar experience with a vacuum cleaner that had a chunk of carboard packing material lodged into the underside : )