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OT: William of Ockham (was eh, something I dare not utter)

On Saturday 11 October 2003 10:15, Paul Johnson wrote:
> On Sat, Oct 11, 2003 at 01:04:53AM +0100, Colin Watson wrote:
> > its appearance. I'd suggest applying Occam's razor: the simplest
> For those who don't know Occam's Razor, it's sometimes also called
> Bob's Motto (Bob being the name of all Tech Support reps).  "Never
> attribute to malice what can be readily explained by stupidity."

Actually, that's Hanlon's Razor. 

Occam, or rather William of Ockham, was one of more forward-looking 
people of the Middle Ages. He emphasized the rational thought of man, 
held that no church or the pope himself had infallible authority, and 
was generally a very interesting thinker. I'd recommend googling for 
him! :-) (Another interesting thinker in the Middle Ages, is Nicole 
Oresme, BTW, I would recommend googling for him too)

The principle that he is known for, can be formulated in many ways, but 
what it means, in it's purest form, is that you should begin with 
formulating a hypothesis that explains your available data, and only 
that. If you observe a fly at two different positions, and you want to 
say where it have flown, your simplest hypothesis is that it has flown 
directly from A to B. It could be wrong, of course, it could have 
orbited Jupiter a couple of times on the way, but unless you have some 
evidence that the fly had been at a point C on the way, your hypothesis 
should be that it followed the direct line. Perhaps not the best 
example, but it was what I could come up with right now.


Kjetil Kjernsmo
Astrophysicist/IT Consultant/Skeptic/Ski-orienteer/Orienteer/Mountaineer
kjetil@kjernsmo.net  webmaster@skepsis.no  editor@learn-orienteering.org
Homepage: http://www.kjetil.kjernsmo.net/        OpenPGP KeyID: 6A6A0BBC

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