There is a whole lot of wisdom in a brief paper by Massimo Pigliucci over at Rationally Speaking:
. . . Philosophers often refer to this as the principle of economy, while scientists tend to call it parsimony. Skeptics invoke it every time they wish to dismiss out of hand claims of unusual phenomena (after all, to invoke the “unusual” is by definition unparsimonious, so there).
. . . The obvious question to ask about Ockham’s razor is: why? On what basis are we justified to think that, as a matter of general practice, the simplest hypothesis is the most likely one to be true? Setting aside the surprisingly difficult task of operationally defining “simpler” in the context of scientific hypotheses (it can be done, but only in certain domains, and it ain’t straightforward), there doesn’t seem to be any particular logical or metaphysical reason to believe that the universe is a simple as it could be.
What proof is there that the philosopher Franciscan friar William of Ockham (1288-1348) was right? How much science has been decided by taking leap of faith in Ockham?
Both sides in the Shroud of Turin debate invoke Ockam as a weapon of choice, it seems, in every debate.
A MUST READ: Razoring Ockham’s razor
Love this. I’ve been taking Occam apart for years. Funny enough it suited me once to use it recently but that was a rare exception.
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