Thursday, October 29, 2009

Occam's Razor For Politics and Science

Occam's Razor

one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything

Occam's razor is a logical principle attributed to the mediaeval philosopher William of Occam (or Ockham). The principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. This principle is often called the principle of parsimony. It underlies all scientific modelling and theory building. It admonishes us to choose from a set of otherwise equivalent models of a given phenomenon the simplest one. In any given model, Occam's razor helps us to "shave off" those concepts, variables or constructs that are not really needed to explain the phenomenon. By doing that, developing the model will become much easier, and there is less chance of introducing inconsistencies, ambiguities and redundancies.
Though the principle may seem rather trivial, it is essential for model building because of what is known as the "underdetermination of theories by data". For a given set of observations or data, there is always an infinite number of possible models explaining those same data. This is because a model normally represents an infinite number of possible cases, of which the observed cases are only a finite subset. The non-observed cases are inferred by postulating general rules covering both actual and potential observations.
For example, through two data points in a diagram you can always draw a straight line, and induce that all further observations will lie on that line. However, you could also draw an infinite variety of the most complicated curves passing through those same two points, and these curves would fit the empirical data just as well. Only Occam's razor would in this case guide you in choosing the "straight" (i.e. linear) relation as best candidate model. A similar reasoning can be made for n data points lying in any kind of distribution.
Occam's razor is especially important for universal models such as the ones developed in General Systems Theory, mathematics or philosophy, because there the subject domain is of an unlimited complexity. If one starts with too complicated foundations for a theory that potentially encompasses the universe, the chances of getting any manageable model are very slim indeed. Moreover, the principle is sometimes the only remaining guideline when entering domains of such a high level of abstraction that no concrete tests or observations can decide between rival models. In mathematical modelling of systems, the principle can be made more concrete in the form of the principle of uncertainty maximization: from your data, induce that model which minimizes the number of additional assumptions.
This principle is part of epistemology, and can be motivated by the requirement of maximal simplicity of cognitive models. However, its significance might be extended to metaphysics if it is interpreted as saying that simpler models are more likely to be correct than complex ones, in other words, that "nature" prefers simplicity.


  1. I know how you feel about abortion Chris and I agree with you 100%
    That is why I wanted to pass along this story to you.
    It makes you wonder if the Nazis are still alive and kicking

  2. Chris,

    I just wanted to re-introduce myself, and thank you for passing on the location of Brian Pannebecker's blog, as well as yours and Johns, to my friends at the rally.

    My friends said they had a great time talking with you. We're looking forward to having you speak at one of our meetings. I believe you are in contact with Phil.

    I'm looking forward to reading your comments on this blog.

  3. Michael great to have you on our blog. I was wondering where you where.Your friends have great insight into the liberal Democrat racist machine,as they called it. Doug I am going right now to watch the video. Thank you for all your work on making this blog great Doug,Michael and everyone.

  4. A pro-life organization is blasting a Switzerland-based cosmetics manufacturer whose website openly admits some of its products were developed from the tissues of an aborted baby.

    Children of God for Life is a non-profit organization focused on the bioethics of embryonic tissue use in medicine and manufacturing. One of its current campaigns includes petitioning pharmaceutical companies to produce safe, effective alternatives to vaccines derived or cultivated from aborted fetal tissue.

    But the organization's attention has now turned Neocutis, a company with offices in San Francisco which has developed a line of anti-aging products that include an ingredient the company has trademarked as Processed Skin Cell Protein, or PSP, developed from skin cells harvested from an abortion.

    "It is absolutely deplorable that Neocutis would resort to exploiting the remains of a deliberately slaughtered baby for nothing other than pure vanity and financial gain," said Debi Vinnedge, executive director of Children of God for Life, in a statement. "There is simply no moral justification for this."

    The website for Neocutis, which is privately held with estimated annual sales of in excess of $2 million, explains that its research began years ago, when scientists discovered fetal skin's unusual ability to heal without scarring. Scientists at the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland, then created a process to extract proteins from fetal cells in the attempt to obtain an optimal, naturally balanced mixture of nutrients.

    The scientists then infused those nutrients into a line of cosmeceutical anti-aging products: Neocutis skin cream, Journée day cream, Lumière eye cream and Bio-Gel bio-restorative hydrogel – products Vinnedge is advising women to throw in the garbage before contacting Neocutis to voice their concerns.

    "There is absolutely no reason to use aborted babies for such selfish motives," Vinnedge said. "It is anti-life, anti-woman and counter-productive, as Neocutis is about to find out!"

  5. Children of God for Life boasts that it has been a watchdog on pharmaceutical companies using aborted fetal cell lines in medical products and has received thousands of inquiries from the public on the use of aborted fetal material in cosmetics. But this is the first time, the organization says, that any company was bold enough to put the information right on its own website and in product literature.

    In fact, the Neocutis website openly explains the history of its PSP ingredient:

    "A small biopsy of fetal skin was donated following a one-time medical termination," the website states, "and a dedicated cell bank was established for developing new skin treatments. Originally established for wound healing and burn treatments, today this same cell bank also provides a lasting supply of cells for producing Neocutis' proprietary skin care ingredient Processed Skin Cell Proteins."

    The company adds, "No additional fetal biopsies will ever be required."

    But Children of God for Life finds little consolation in the company's statement.

    "You note in your literature that 'no further fetal biopsies will be needed,' as though the life of the one child you have exploited has no value," wrote the organization in a letter to Neocutis' CEO. "It is deplorable that you would attempt to mollify the public and whitewash your badly tarnished image so thoughtlessly."

    Vinnedge also told WND that companies aren't required to disclose their research history to the public, so there may be facts conveniently omitted from the Neocutis story.

    "What we don't know is how many other fetuses were involved before they perfected that one cell line," she surmised. "There's a possibility there were more."

    WND contacted Neocutis repeatedly for comment, but phone messages were not returned. A Businessweek web report says the company was founded in 2003 and its directors were identified as Frederic-Edouard Koehn, Patrick Hohlfeld, Diego Braguglia and Jennifer Pearson.

    Children of God for Life, however, is actively calling for a boycott of all Neocutis products, beginning a campaign to contact the company's investors and even offering free publicity to companies that will certify in writing their products are free from ingredients derived from aborted babies.

    "We know there are companies using moral sources for collagen and skin proteins," Vinnedge said. "We intend to publicly promote these other cosmetic companies competing with Neocutis that are willing to step forward and contact us."

    What a sick world we live in where people put dead babies on their face to look good. This is Old Testament stuff. Doug thank you for pointing out this story. What do you "progressives" think of putting dead babies on their faces? We are now becoming a consumer of dead babies.

  6. The left wing wakos cry over a rabbit being tested on but babies being ground up for a face cream it no problem. Liberal is a sickness.

  7. Michael don't forget to take a look at Christophers blog. He has a really great blog. Johns blog is great also so make sure you look that one up too.

  8. Good job with that story Chris, I am sure there are those that will try to defend this evil,those animals make me ill.

  9. Hey Michael,
    Welcome back,glad to hear from you again!

    Great post on Occam's Razor,just to bad government will not heed it's message. It goes along way in explaining the utter destruction of public education as well.

  10. Thanks Doug for bringing it to our attention.We need to tell everyone what the liberals are trying to do in this country and the world. God help us if they get their way. Very perceptive of you Christopher.

  11. Perhaps I lost something along the way, so what does this have to do with Politics, Liberalism or Conservatism? I think this cuts many ways and is a neutral principle.

  12. Really? the only ones that have a disdain for life and are trying to dehumanize everything is the left in this country who are full supporters for abortion on demand for any reason at anytime. They are the ones who make this kind of horror possible not any God fearing conservative.
    How can slaughtering the unborn and then using the remains for commercial products be a neutral thing?
    Sorry but I think your brain was stuck in neutral when you wrote that.

  13. Ken I was going off of another guys post from an earlier blog. When a conspiracy theory takes too many turns and is too difficult to accomplish then most likely it didn't happen. Thus Occam's Razor.


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