Rant: I'm tired of hearing about Occam's razor

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techstepgenr8tion
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15 Mar 2019, 7:07 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Saying "god did it" is not an explanation. It is the absence of an explanation.

I'm sure you can find someone around here who takes that proposition seriously. I'm not the right guy to defend it though.


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15 Mar 2019, 10:30 pm

Consider perhaps that saying "god did it" is a syntactically terse but ontologically complete explanation that does not edify a listener with any details of a matter whatsoever. But to go after those details either leaves an explanation approximate or goes into infinite detail about how every single thing in the universe interacts with all the others out to infinity and down to infinitesimality. You can't explain how any finite region of reality operates at any level of conceptual abstraction without also explaining how the boundary of that region also changes according to what is outside of it, and you have to do so across every level of conceptual abstraction for a truly complete answer. Anything else is an approximation that would leave a perfectly skeptical listener unhappy in its ontological incompleteness.

If one wants to predict and/or control absolutely everything in perfect detail then the involved (conceptual) tools become infinitely complex. God gets invoked at the edge of a person's caring about a matter. Everyone has limits to how much they care about details, so everyone is lazy according to a perfect skeptic.

And now I'm at the limit of my caring.



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16 Mar 2019, 5:54 am

^

That's a bit how my impression works as well.

We're stuck in an environment, through the course of our lives, that causes us a lot of misery so gaining command over that environment is a big priority for us. It's part of why we generally don't like reverting back to explanations of things that give us less leverage. There aren't many people who'd want to scrap biological taxonomy for example and call everything an 'animal', or at least to the extent that said people may exist they're largely irrelevant to the discussion.

The pseudo-intellectual way of using Occam's Razor is something like saying 'that's a new idea or new finding - I don't like it, it doesn't match my established worldview'. Expectations that new insights will necessarily be less complex than previous ones after the people involved in uncovering them do all of their due diligence (ie. use Occam's Razor to rule out all simpler explanations) fall under a comprehensibility/intelligibility error in that there's no guarantee of such, it casts a style of anthropomorphism on the universe that we haven't found true to date, and technically there's no guarantee that everything about the nature of the universe or even most things that can be known about it could be comprehended by human minds.


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16 Mar 2019, 7:47 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
naturalplastic wrote:
Saying "god did it" is not an explanation. It is the absence of an explanation.

I'm sure you can find someone around here who takes that proposition seriously. I'm not the right guy to defend it though.




Instead of "not defending it" why don't you actually try to refute it? :lol:



Last edited by naturalplastic on 16 Mar 2019, 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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16 Mar 2019, 7:54 am

Occams Razor gets used well, and it gets misused.

Where I see it being used most often is when two folks basically agree to disagree about some mystery that neither side can prove their respective theories (ie no one knows what caused it). So one party says I am sticking with the simpler (and usually more mundane) explanation. If both sides admit that they don't know:then its acceptable for one side to conclude that they will stick to the simpler explanation that explains all of the facts.



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16 Mar 2019, 6:20 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Instead of "not defending it" why don't you actually try to refute it? :lol:

I gave it as an example of extending the logical fallacy to the point of making it obvious. Why me?


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17 Mar 2019, 1:38 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
naturalplastic wrote:
Instead of "not defending it" why don't you actually try to refute it? :lol:

I gave it as an example of extending the logical fallacy to the point of making it obvious. Why me?


Exactly. You are admitting that you cant refute what I said: that "saying "God did it' is not an explanation, but is the absence of an explanation'". Ergo that you agree with that statement.



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17 Mar 2019, 9:08 am

naturalplastic wrote:
Exactly. You are admitting that you cant refute what I said: that "saying "God did it' is not an explanation, but is the absence of an explanation'". Ergo that you agree with that statement.

What you said missed my point which is part of why I didn't find it interesting.

'God did it' is the crowning example of a bad heuristic, ie. even if it were true it would tell us absolutely nothing useful, just like taxonomizing every living creature as an 'animal' would be useless. Scientific progress has been about tightening heuristics and using detailed tests to do so, ie. removing the slop. Occam's Razor is something people have tried to use in order to put some kind of rule of thumb on things but I think the actual science supersedes it - ie. if the science shows things to be more complex in many cases Occam's Razor is irrelevant.

The primary reason Occam's Razor is more prone to misuse than to good use is it's a comprehensibility argument in most cases and comprehensibility arguments, especially when it comes to scientific findings, are as obsolete as religious arguments.


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17 Mar 2019, 9:59 am

Also to call a bad explanation the absence of an explanation is literally wrong. A bad or false explanation is a bad or false explanation.


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17 Mar 2019, 10:44 am

Fnord wrote:
The definitions I try to follow are: (1) of two competing theories, the simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred; and (2) entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.

Taken together, it means to me that once you have determined the natural causes of an event, there is no need to seek out supernatural causes.

Lunar Phases? Orbital geometry.

Diversity of Species? Evolutionary processes.

Crop Circles? Human planning, preparation and effort.

Here's another one for you:

"Any apparently supernatural event is indistinguishable from a sufficiently well-rigged hoax."
I should have added that natural causes should be assumed first. When people take a flying leap from a natural event (Aurora Borealis) to alleging a supernatural cause (i.e., extra-terrestrials, ghosts, magic, et cetera), then they are not thinking, but only assuming. Such people should take another flying leap ... off a tall cliff.



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17 Mar 2019, 11:19 am

^ Definitely. At the same time, I think people seeking paranormal explanations are struggling to cope with something in reality, like some betrayal in society they're trying to get a handle on while having more conventional explanations denied. It's like, a person arrives at "pod people" when they live among really passive-aggressive people that deny it constantly. Distributed gaslighting, something like that.

To that end, calling people just "crazy" seems a bit of an oversimplification.



Last edited by la_fenkis on 17 Mar 2019, 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

techstepgenr8tion
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17 Mar 2019, 11:26 am

The 'paranormal' or 'supernatural' is another one of those places where people jam a bunch of unrelated things together in hopes of gaining blanket acceptance or dismissal of all contained content.

Naivety/ignorance on one hand and cynicism/politics on the other are the two best reasons to force bad heuristics.


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18 Mar 2019, 4:12 am

la_fenkis wrote:
Everyone has limits to how much they care about details, so everyone is lazy according to a perfect skeptic.

And now I'm at the limit of my caring.


One of the identifying characteristics of being on the spectrum is the tendency to commit to the detail of the subject matter of interest...
Not stereotyping here, btw...

Unfortunately, I have a fairly low threshold when it comes to sorting out details on complex subject matter which is new to me and not on my focus list, because of the investigatory process...
My journey into each "rabbit hole" is usually extensive and exhaustive (in terms of being exhausting...;))
I don't take on the responsibility of a new pet project lightly...

Errm... :scratch:
So yeah...
I agree with you here... 8)

P.S.
Go psychology(ism)!
Go evolutionism!
Go Dawkins-ism!
Go reductionism!
Go Truthism!
Hoowah! :mrgreen:


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18 Mar 2019, 5:48 am

Occam's razor is essentially a form of heuristics...
A starting point...

Reductionism is the considered distillation of complexity...
Reducing, filtering and refining chaotic essential and non-essential elements to ascertain underlining fundamental conceptual order...
Not the same thing...as Occam's whatsit or a heuristic starting point...
So there... :P 8)

Quote:
In science, Occam's razor is used as an abductive heuristic in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models.[1][2] In the scientific method, Occam's razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor


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18 Mar 2019, 6:37 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
naturalplastic wrote:
Exactly. You are admitting that you cant refute what I said: that "saying "God did it' is not an explanation, but is the absence of an explanation'". Ergo that you agree with that statement.

What you said missed my point which is part of why I didn't find it interesting.

'God did it' is the crowning example of a bad heuristic, ie. even if it were true it would tell us absolutely nothing useful, just like taxonomizing every living creature as an 'animal' would be useless. Scientific progress has been about tightening heuristics and using detailed tests to do so, ie. removing the slop. Occam's Razor is something people have tried to use in order to put some kind of rule of thumb on things but I think the actual science supersedes it - ie. if the science shows things to be more complex in many cases Occam's Razor is irrelevant.

The primary reason Occam's Razor is more prone to misuse than to good use is it's a comprehensibility argument in most cases and comprehensibility arguments, especially when it comes to scientific findings, are as obsolete as religious arguments.


Saying "god did it" is the same thing as saying "we don't know what caused it". Ergo its the absence of an explanation.

Saying "God did it because...[some motive for God to do it because of something humans did that displeased him]" would cross the line into being an actual explanation. It would be a weird anachronistically medeaval type of explanation in this day and age, but at least it would be an explanation based on something that you might find evidence for (or against).

The recent flood in Iowa, and Nebraska, might have been caused by God, because the folks in those two states have recently taken to drinkin' and to card playin' on Sundays, or sumpin like that. It displeased god, and did his wrath thing.

So if you disagreed with my theory about the cause of this flood of the Missouri River then you could go and look for evidence that shows that there was no statistical increase in the amount of...drinkin and card playin' in those states just prior to the flood.

But just saying that "god did it, and did it for his own mysterious reasons that we cant know" is just a dressed up way of saying "we don't know why it happened...there is no explanation".