Occam's Razor

The simplest explanation is that which is most simply expressed in our language. But language is arbitrary.


Thinker said...

To my understanding, Occam's razor would rule that the world was real.
You have two theories here, which both account for all evidence.
Which is simpler: There exists a physical world that your five senses give you information about, or that you are, without knowing it, generating completely consistant sense data from some sort of "outside" point, merely to keep you from becoming bored, because you are the only real thing?
The first only accounts for observable data, while the other makes an unprovable conjecture, meaning the first theory is the simplest, and more favorable.
Also, I think a world I created would be much more awesome, but that's irrelevant.
Finally, in your punchline, the man on the left being a cheater probably is the simplest explination of all the data.

denis bider said...


Occam's Razor seems ripe for abuse to me, and frequently abused this way as well, because it's too easy to confuse "simplest explanation" with "explanation diverging the least from what I assume to be true".

In order to properly compare two theories with Occam's Razor, you have to express those theories in absolute terms, without making any invisible assumptions that favor one or the other theory.

This is incredibly difficult to do, because we all have assumptions. Whether we have this set of assumptions, or another set of assumptions, has tremendous influence on whether one theory, or another theory, seems more simple, or more complex.

Furthermore, in your comment, you are attempting to compare two theories of the world which cannot even be compared, because they do not have equal explanatory power. The theory I present (single mind universe) explains both the universe (it's me) and my awareness in it (it's me again). Your theory explains that there's a universe, but does not explain my awareness.

You need to complete your theory in order to be able to compare, and you haven't done so.

In my experience with games, the other person cheating has very rarely been the cause of me losing. In the vast majority of games I've played, when I lost, it was due to the opponent being better.

I can't really say that my data set supports "cheater" as the most likely explanation for a string of losses.