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Ockham’s Razor

“It is vain to do with more, what can be done with fewer.”

“Entities must not be multiplied beyond what is necessary.”

These are a couple of ways Ockham stated his idea.
These are as correct today as they were in the 14th century when William of Ockham first declared this concept.

The “razor” as Ockham might expressed it today is,
A problem should be formulated in basic and unpretentious terms.

For science the “razor” means,
The simplest theory that corresponds to the experimental data should be used.

And in street jargon the “razor” is called,
The KISS principle for Keep It Simple Stupid.

For the amateur the “razor” means,
Do not think it is complicated, because it is really simple.

For the professional the “razor” means,
Your machines are more complex than the answer.

For both the amateur and the professional it means,
Look for the simple solution first.

I personally like to express the “razor” as,
If you really want to impress someone, don’t try to snow them.

And as my Father, who was a wise farmer, told me before I went off to the university to study physics, “You don’t really understand your science until you can explain it so I can understand it.”

What does all this mean?

We all have heard singers who make changes to a tune or even a few words of a song. It boils down to the singer trying to appear that they are independent and want to impress people. In reality they are doing just the opposite. People just think they are showing off.

When you were young and your mother sent you to the store to buy something, how did you act? Yes, you put the money in your pocket or wallet and tried to make the cashier thinks you are on your own and the money was yours. Why? Because we all like to feel important.

Professionals like to use special words that they think are important, Ockham means if you really want to impress people,

   1. Use words that people outside your field will understand.
   2. If you need a special word define that special words and variables so those who are not specialist in your field can understand what they mean and thus understand your work.
   3. The more people that understand your work the more you will insure that your work will be used.

Amateurs like to invent big words that they think are important, Ockham says

   1. Don’t.
   2. Be clear and as simple as possible in your explanations so others can understand your ideas.
   3. The more people that understand your ideas the more you will insure that your work will be usable.

Nonprofessionals like to invent complicated theories, Ockham says

   1. Don’t
   2. When you develop and expound those complicated theories’ you tell everyone that you’re a rooky, greenhorn, neophyte, novice, or beginner, just showing off.

If you have an idea, that is great.
     Now, find a way to test it, and use it.
           That way you can prove that you are right.
                People can always argue about your ideas.