Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ockham? Fockham!

Franciscan monk William of Ockham (c.1287-1347) said something scarcely resembling "in explanations, do not multiply assumptions beyond need." According to Jacques Vallee, writing at BoingBoing, Ockham stated it this way:
Nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.
Some of us immediately envision Emily Litella saying, "Oh. Well. That's very different. Never mind!" Scientific explanations simply cannot compete with sacred scripture in authority or simplicity. So unless you're willing to toss out the science with the bathwater... razor away the skin with the beard? ... you may not want to cite Ockham as your authority in simplifying an explanation.

Please go read Vallee's post. It is elegantly laid out, and has nice medieval illustrations including a larger image of the above portrait allegedly of Ockham.

(H/T ellroon, by proximity to another BoingBoing post she linked.)


  1. Darn! I've just recently taught myself all about Ockham's razor so I could have fights on the internets. Now what?

    1. I still don't understand the "razor" part...



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