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Occam's Razor - When laziness gives birth to scientific theory

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posted on May, 31 2006 @ 04:58 PM
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Occam's razor dictates that the simplest explanation in a given circumstance is most likely the correct one (or something to that effect). In my opinion, this only serves as a crutch that people use as an excuse to stop searching and allow ignorance to reign. It's just one more of the many so-called theories and ideas that only managed to originate through common knowledge excluding others from patenting it earlier.




posted on May, 31 2006 @ 08:56 PM
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That is an overly simplistic viewpoint.

Occam's Razor is a whole set of principles and philosophies of critical thought. Your observation is only one (misquoted) part of the larger body.



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 12:44 AM
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dave_54:
It may have been overly simplistic and misquoted, hence my inclusion of "or something to that effect". The point is that it encompasses the general idea behind the theory, does it not? In which case the argument stands.



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 02:34 PM
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It may be a little off-topic, but in regards to the way in which some of these theories come to be, I got to thinking about bottled drinking water. Who would have ever thought that anyone would be willing to pay the same price for bottled plain water as soft drink? Seems like the only reason someone was able to make money out of it was because most passed it off as too ridiculous to think that anyone would be willing to buy that which is (or was) so freely abundant.



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 01:36 PM
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reply to post by mytym
 


Very well said, Mytym.
My thoughts exactly.

What I find amazing is that some "scientists" seem so proud of relying on this sorry crutch.


P.S. I am aware that this thread was started a very long time ago.
But that doesn't make the subject any less relevant.





[edit on 4-3-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 01:43 PM
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Originally posted by mytym
Occam's razor dictates that the simplest explanation in a given circumstance is most likely the correct one (or something to that effect). In my opinion, this only serves as a crutch that people use as an excuse to stop searching and allow ignorance to reign.


Could you please give an example of where Occam's Razor has been used an "an excuse" to allow "ignorance to reign?"

I don't think you have a full understand of the principles and reasoning behind Occam's Razor. This is demonstrated when you say, "or something to that effect."



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 02:24 PM
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I just had a discussion the other evening about Descarte's "I think, therefore I am" statement. The other persons involved tended to trivialize the statement as a "duh" kinda' thing. I offered my opinion that without some understanding of the background, culture, curiosity, and reasoning behind that simple statement....a person couldn't truly appreciate it.

Occam's Razor seems to be maligned nearly as much.


The principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. Source


Editing because I clicked the "Post Reply" button out of habit. Nuts.

The principle and reasoning that creates "Occam's Razor" is what is important. Not the culturally popular...."The simplest answer is the best". It doesn't really say that. I'm pretty sure it basically says not to "make up" answers to fit a problem.

[edit on 4-3-2008 by MrPenny]



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 02:34 PM
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the problem is, these days people try to apply Ockham's Razor to EVERYTHING. It's ridiculous! It's not meant to decide whether CTs are true or not. It's not meant to be applied to religion, or emotions, or opinions, or spirituality. It's meant to be applied to SCIENCE (and not the Scientology type of science either).



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 02:48 PM
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Originally posted by scientist
the problem is, these days people try to apply Ockham's Razor to EVERYTHING. It's ridiculous! It's not meant to decide whether CTs are true or not. It's not meant to be applied to religion, or emotions, or opinions, or spirituality. It's meant to be applied to SCIENCE (and not the Scientology type of science either).


One of the biggest misunderstandings people tend to have about the general notion of Occam's Razor is that it has a bias toward the mundane. Actually, it doesn't have any bias and can be used as a means of justifying further research in areas that are absolutely not mundane.

Consider UFO sightings, for instance. Over the past half century in particular, tens of thousands of average people have seen odd things in the sky that they can't explain. Now, because of the sheer number of people and sightings it would be extremely difficult to imagine that every single one of them was mistaken, hoaxing, or nuts. Applying Occam's Razor to the problem, we find that it would be so much more highly improbable that everyone is nuts or mistaken than it would be for at least a few of the sightings to be legitimate, accurate and honestly bafflingly weird. So, in this case, the simplest explanation is that something really weird is happening.

Also, as mentioned above, it's just a general rule of thumb and not meant to conclusively determine the answer to any particular question. Sometimes the real, true explanation is the weird and the odd one. But finding that out, particularly in a case where there are many other more obvious explanations, will take a lot more effort.



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 02:56 PM
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I have found the razor to be quite handy, "All things being equal, the simplest solution is the best."

As for it being a crutch, I would have to say I have never used it as such.



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 02:58 PM
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From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:


Simplicity



William of Ockham





I don't believe you're giving the concept the credit it deserves. It can be misused or misapplied, but it works well otherwise. If not the most parsimonious explanation, then what sort of explanation would you prefer?


Good ol' Friar Ockham.



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 03:05 PM
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Originally posted by Rren
If not the most parsimonious explanation, then what sort of explanation would you prefer?


Well, obviously, the correct and provable answer, regardless of its probability, would be preferable. If there was overwhelming verifiable, unimpeachable evidence presented that JFK was assassinated by time traveling squid people from Alpha Centauri, then it would be best to go with that explanation, as unlikely as it may be.



posted on Mar, 4 2008 @ 03:13 PM
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Originally posted by Nohup

[...] If there was overwhelming verifiable, unimpeachable evidence presented [...]



Sure. But, the overwhelming traveling squid from Alpha Centauri evidence removes unknowns from the equation making it the simple most parsimonious answer. Hypothetically speaking, of course. No?


"Absence of any compelling evidence in their favor" and all that Ockham jazz.

Besides it definitely has more panache than the magic bullet.



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