As a kid, I grew up watching Agent Fox Mulder work tirelessly from a basement office full of files – but not the sort of files most of us work with today. No, these weren’t drawn facsimiles of manila folders glowing on the desktop of Mulder’s computer screen – they were hand typed and printed documents inside actual manila folders. That’s right, the 90’s were a crazy time.
Thanks to modern streaming platforms like Hulu, I’ve recently been able to revisit the X-Files and watch it with a new set of eyes: those of a person that’s participated in formal military investigations (into much less dramatic things), developed a breadth of life experience to pull from, and understands that Scully’s shoulder pads weren’t a product of her own lack of style, but rather the lack of style everyone was subjected to in the 1990s. Most importantly, as an adult, I’ve seen things I’m not sure I can wrap my head around – though admittedly, nothing that I believe constitutes proof of anything other than my imagination’s ability to argue against Occam’s Razor when I see lights darting across the dark, Georgia skies.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, Occam’s Razor is a pretty simple concept at its fundamental levels: when faced with two potential solutions to a mystery, the simplest answer is often the correct one. More to the point, when problem solving, the solution that requires the fewest assumptions on your part is likely the more accurate one – per William of Ockham’s 14th century theory. Why isn’t Occam in Occam’s Razor spelled the same way? Some mysteries I may never unlock.
As what I like to think of as a well-reasoning adult, re-watching the X-Files has been a clinic in shame regarding my childhood hero-worship of Fox Mulder. Although he often turns out right, he also demonstrates a real lack of tact when it comes to conveying his theories to his professional counterparts. In fact, I often find myself now empathizing with the cut and dry Dana Scully, medical doctor and skeptic… but is that because Mulder’s quest had drained him of empathy for disbelievers (fictionally), or is it because our world has grown less mysterious in the last twenty years? Has the internet age simply made skeptics of us all?