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Occam's razor

Posted by ESC on January 27, 2001

In Reply to: Occam's razor posted by ESC on January 27, 2001

: : I am not sure whether this is the correct spelling or indeed exactly what it means. Can anyone help?

(Just cleaning up a typo. Make that "simplest.")

: Occam's Razor - The way I've heard it explained is that the simplest or mostly likely explanation is probably correct. If you find leaves in your front yard, they were probably dropped from the trees rather than being carried there by persons unknown. Or something like that. The Jody Foster character used the term "Occam's Razor" in the movie "Contact."

: "Occam's razor, the philosophic principle of economy or parsimony, holds that universal essences should not be unnecessarily multiplied, which means simply that a scientific explanation should contain only those elements absolutely necessary. The axiom is named for William of Occam (ca. 1280-1349), an English philosopher and Franciscan who was a pupil of Duns Scotus and who dissected every question as with a razor." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). That entry goes on. Let me know if you want to hear more.