Wednesday, May 28, 2008
What's Occam's Razor & can you shave with it?
Occam's Razor is not a shaving device owned by someone named Occam. No! It is a logical instrument whereby one can distinguish between hypothesis in order to arrive at a more reasonable solution.
Occam's Razor states that all things being equal, we should choose the hypothesis that does not "multiply variables" beyond necessity. For example, if you wanted to guess at who stole your lunch out of the refrigerator, you wouldn't guess that it was a Labrador Retriever who unlocked the front door, opened the refrigerator door, grabbed your grub and disappeared without leaving a trace. You would assume it was your hungry roommate. But Why?
If you would guess it was a dog, you would be "multiplying variables" beyond what was necessary. Why would it be a Labrador Retriever? Both your roommate and this mysterious dog are hungry. But your roommate knows how to unlock doors, dogs usually don't.
Likewise, if you want to talk about the origin of matter, don't multiply variables, just look for a natural explanation.