Scientific Sense Podcast

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Occam’s razor

In every field, from science to psychology and from education to entertainment, those with simpler ideas and fewer assumptions seem to do better. Theories that can be expressed on simpler terms, educational institutions with fewer constraints and movies, music and dramas, with simpler and enjoyable plots seem to win. Yes, economy and parsimony, terms considered anathematic by those reaching for the stars under city lights, may rule again. A complex theory that fails to explain what is observed certainly is inferior to one that is simple and equally incompetent. If observed complexity in a system can be attributed to a singular origin, such as God or dark matter, then one could argue that it is in a favorable direction to Occam’s razor. In a world basking in statistical noise from pharmaceuticals to astrophysics and from Wall Street to the forgotten alleys, one could anticipate a break from mediocrity but that is not certain. It is dangerous to open one’s mind in the middle of an open field in the midst of a storm and lightning.

Those who anticipate the impending singularity may be better advised to attempt to make sense out of confusion.

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