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Occam's Razor. What are you thoughts on this?

Definition of Occam's razor
: a scientific and philosophical rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities

balou 8 Dec 18

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I think it's a basic statement of the burden of proof and the null hypothesis. Any time you run an experiment, the default result is that you can't prove any connection/causation etc. and you have to have known quantities (evidence) to prove any other hypothesis.


Razors in general are very useful philosophical tools. I do personally prefer Hanlon's razor though: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."


One of my old lecturers used to prepend "all things being equal" to the beginning of the simple definition. I think it makes a positive difference in the way you think about Occam's, and also helps it to apply to fields outside of mathematics and theoretical physics. I still prepend "all things being equal" when lecturing today.


I believe two explanations of any occurrence in life is part of the human condition. In science and Philosophy, believing the simpler one is true is where I have a problem, It’s a presumption that an outcome can be determined by (predetermined) criteria. As we continue to search and question the natural world and nonphysical realms for what we are doing here, why limit our selves to pre determined positions.


Occam was obviously not an evolutionist. Evolution always tends toward complexity. Look around, how many things are becoming more simple. Our cars have become so complicated that most home mechanics can't work on them. Look at the building code books - our electrician showed me his electrical code book and it was the size of a large dictionary, and he said it was 6 years old. And life: humans (at least some of them-you know who I mean) are vastly more complicated than the single cell bacteria that we came from.

I'm not sure Detroit developments equate to Evolution, which is a natural process.

Theories, not designs ("the simplest of competing theories" ). That's the big difference here.

@BenPike cultural evolution is a part of evolution. I use this analogy because it is so evident

@Jnutter819 Can you elaborate?

@JackPedigo The simplest of theories is most likely to be true. Design quality is more subjective, where truth is objective. In other words, theories are approximations of how the world works, and can be objectively more or less accurate. Designs are more like art-complexity generally makes it better.


My definition of Occam's razor; A tool to trim everything from a theory that is un-necessary to account for the facts.

Humorous definition; Facts without theory are trivia, Theory without facts is bullshit.


Einstein said that any idot can take something simple and make it complex but true genious can take something complex and make it simple.


Business related emails are another perfect example. You need to know exactly what you want to say and get to the point as soon as possible, otherwise you lose the attention of the recipients.

BD66 Level 7 Dec 18, 2017

Omega symbol rule something like the beginning begets the end again repeating the beginning. Kind of like a cat chasing it's tail. There is no possible end infinity....


Another way of avoiding unnecessary drama.

Sort of like "K.I.S.S."

(keep it simple stupid)

Or perhaps Keep it simply stupid


It’s a good rule for scientific research.


A solution with the fat trimmed off it will more often than not fly much better.


Like Most tools it works for it's intended purpose


The simplest and most logical answer to a question or problem is more likely than not. It is a good rule to live by.

Betty Level 7 Dec 18, 2017

I think Occam's Razor is a good rule of thumb. It's not a proof, but the pattern established by simpler solutions being likelier than complex solutions gives it an edge. I could say that my trash got knocked over in a battle between ghosts and paranormal investigators who fought valiantly in the middle of the night only to be interrupted by vampires and werewolves who were having a turf war, and in the struggle my trash was knocked over. Or, perhaps it was raccoons. I wasn't there to see it, so I can't be sure. But my lack of direct knowledge doesn't make this a fifty-fifty proposition. One possible solution is much more likely than the other.

Maybe it was the Opossums. ????

@Paul628 or maybe dogs?

@Paul628: I think that's Opossums Razor. 🙂

The old tree fell in the woods, if it was not heard did it make a noise? You can also apply this to time, does it matter if it is not perceived? Great analogy!

@resserts Yer killin' me!

"knocked over in a battle between ghosts and paranormal investigators who fought valiantly in the middle of the night only to be interrupted by vampires and werewolves who were having a turf war" is One possible solution? What then would be impossible?

@BenPike, kind of the point I was making, and I purposely went with an extreme example to show how Occam's Razor works. A more subtle example might not illustrate the concept clearly. And, of course, I was trying to inject some humor into my comment while providing an example.


A handy tool. It is not the be all, end all, but it certainly is valuable. For more discussion in these types of tools, from someone MUCH more knowledgable than me, look for Daniel C Dennett's "Intuition Pumps". An incredible read and a boon to all who seek to think more clearly, cut through the bullshit that seems to be piling higher with each passing day.


The simplest answer is always best?

It's more likely to be than a long complicated theory.


it works. i use it on this god nonsense. it is far more plausible that man made god, and there is no scientific reason to take it serious.

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