Occam’s razor: Use it everytime you listen to the media!


 Occam’s razor

 Occam’s Razor, also Ockham’s Razor,[1] is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae ("law of parsimony", "law of economy", or "law of succinctness"): entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, roughly translated as "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." An alternative version Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate translates "plurality should not be posited without necessity." [2]

When multiple competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam’s razor is usually understood.

Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as an heuristic maxim (rule of thumb) that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity, often or especially in scientific theories. Here the same caveat applies to confounding topicality with mere simplicity. (A superficially simple phenomenon may have a complex mechanism behind it. A simple explanation would be simplistic if it failed to capture all the essential and relevant parts.) <<Read More>>

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1 Comment

  • Stacey Derbinshire
    April 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

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