Occam’s Razor attempts to rationalize explanations in science by using the principle that the more assumptions one must make, the less likely the explanation is.
Although the Razor may seem like a commonsense principle, it is not universally popular. Some multiverse proponents are not fans because the Razor prevents them from introducing factors other than evidence to explain why we should accept that there is an infinity of universes. See, for example, Physicists explain quantum theory by discarding Occam’s Razor and What won’t we toss out to defend the multiverse?
Readers may recall Jonathan Bartlett, author of Calculus from the Ground Up and UD author, from his suggested correction to calculus teaching. He’s been reading philosopher Elliot Sober‘s book, Occam’s Razors (2015), and he writes to say,
I’m only 30 pages in, and its already worth the time and price of reading. Even if it were all downhill from here, I highly recommend it! A great discussion on the philosophy of science and the principles of reasoning from Copernicus forward. He does a great job of describing the different positions, which each give you something really interesting to think about.
If we are going to defend basic principles of science from an onslaught of motivated nonsense, it doesn’t hurt to know what they are.
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See also: UD author’s suggested correction to calculus teaching goes viral. The story we ran on the topic at Mind Matters has gone viral via Slashdot, with five thousand views since yesterday afternoon. (A paper about CALCULUS?) Figures, Bartlett must have a point about the problem.