Necessity and plurality are the critical elements inside Ockham’s Razor, and not this business of the simplicity of any particular explanation. How does agency block the introduction of a necessary alternative, and how does the ethical skeptic go about establishing a case for its necessity? Such critical questions revolve around the distinction between valid probative confirmation and the pseudo-inference of linear affirmation bias.
Ockham’s Razor is the mandate that, inside reductionist science: plurality should not be posited without necessity.1 In straightforward terms this means that, in order to conserve parsimony, one should not propose study of a new explanatory alternative, nor add features to an existing alternative or the null, without a well established case of necessity to do so. Both of these flavors of additions in conjecture if you will, constitute conditions of what is called ‘plurality’. Plurality means in this context, ‘more than one’ or ‘more than currently exist’. Ockham’s Razor therefore is asking the researcher, ‘When is it indeed necessary to add another explanation, or to add features which should be tested in order to improve an existing explanation?’
This principle of course has nothing to do with simplicity and everything to do with epistemological risk. A state of being apparently ‘simple’ can be just as risky in epistemology as can a state of being ‘complicated’. Ockham’s Razor therefore, leverages its application upon this fulcrum – this threshold of a Wittgenstein logical object called necessity. Of course, implicit in this apothegm is the principle that, once a solid case for necessity has been established, then both the consideration of a new explanatory alternative, or added features to an existing alternative, become justified inside any pathway of research. The purpose of this blog article is to address that threshold, that fulcrum upon which Ockham’s Razor leverages its wisdom – the Necessity of Plurality. When and how do we achieve such a feat, and what are the symptoms of a condition wherein forces of fake skeptical agency are at work feverishly to prevent such a critical path step of science from ever occurring in the first place? Possessing the skill to discern a condition of plurality is critical to any claim to represent the philosophy of science, skepticism.
Its Abrogation: The Circular Simplicity Sell
God exists. This is the critical thesis of Question 2 inside Saint Thomas Aquinas’ The Summa Theologica.2 That such a critical path assumption is ‘simple’, is the critical thesis of Question 3 inside that same foundational work of Christian apologetica.3 Finally, Saint Thomas Aquinas begins that work with the provision that such a simple presumption is ‘necessary’.4 The theological argument outlined in The Summa Theologica flows along the following critical path of logic:
Question 1: God is necessary as an explanatory basis for all that we see
Question 2: God is self evident
Question 3: God as a principle in and of itself, is simple (return to Question 1)
Aquinas is fatally wrong here. The only thing simple about God as a principle, is the spelling of the word. The actual critical sequence of sleight-of-hand employed in Aquinas’ argument here starts with Question 3, flowing into Question 1 and finally to Question 2. However, he purposely places these out of order in an effort to conceal from his reader the circular nature of the contention, along with the subsequent basis from which he drew necessity. What he is doing is postulating Question 3, and then ‘affirming’ (see below) that assumption through reinterpreted observations in Question 1 and 2. The actual flow of Aquinas’ argument proceeds thusly:
And thus Aquinas’ argument circularly complies with ‘Occam’s Razor’, in that since God is by manifest evidence (this is not the same thing as ‘probative observation’), a simple principle, therefore now it is also a necessary one. You draw attention to and speak of yourself. Everyone knows that drawing attention to or speaking of one’s self is the practice of a narcissist, therefore it is a simple explanatory option, and now the necessary null, that you be regarded as a narcissist. Furthermore, since that accusation is assumed now ‘necessary’ it can be shown to be self evident, through this new attention towards your every action, along with the resulting linear affirmation bias (see The Map of Inference and below) – that you will ultimately be affirmed (infer ‘confirmed’) as a narcissist.5 Under this same logic, there does not exist one thing now that I will encounter in my life, which cannot be framed or re-explained inside the conforming context of my desired conclusion (see Qualifying Theory and Pseudo-Theory). This is how the circular simplicity sell works, it involves a principle of pseudo-inference called linear affirmation bias.
Linear Affirmation Bias
/philosophy : inference : induction : pseudo-inference/ : a primarily inductive methodology of deriving inference in which the researcher starts in advance with a premature question or assumed answer they are looking for. Thereafter, observations are made. Affirmation is a process which involves only positive confirmations of an a priori assumption or goal. Accordingly, under this method of deriving inference, observations are classified into three buckets:
1. Affirming 2. In need of reinterpretation 3. Dismissed because they are not ‘simple’ (conforming to the affirmation underway).
Under this method, the model is complicated by reinterpretations. Failing the test that a model should be elegant, not exclusively simple. By means of this method, necessity under Ockham’s Razor is assumed in advance and all observations thereafter are merely reconfigured to fit the assumed model. At the end of this process, the idea which was posed in the form of a question, or sought at the very start, is affirmed as valid. Most often this idea thereafter is held as an Omega Hypothesis (more important to protect than the integrity of science itself).
Now, set aside of course the premature contentions made inside Questions 2 and 3, that ‘God is self evident’ and ‘God is simple’, and focus instead on the first trick of this pseudo-philosophy. The sleight-of-hand proffered in this form of casuistry, is embodied in a violation of Ockham’s Razor called an invalid ‘necessity of plurality’. Saint Aquinas begins his work in Question 1 by assuming necessity. A nice trick, and one I would love to pull off inside a laboratory setting. Things would always go my way; conclusions would always turn out as planned – as long as I can dictate the necessity of the questions I want asked.
As a note, the ignostic atheist does not object to the idea of God as does the nihilist Atheist. They simply object to logically invalid or manipulative pathways of arriving at such knowledge as a predefined destination. If one is to discover God, the above pathway is not the way of going about such a task. Logic’ing your way into a proof or disproof of God is foolishness; the self-aggrandizing fantasy of the theist and Atheist.
Moreover, as long as you afford me exemption from having to establish a case for necessity, I can invalidly swing the direction of research towards any particular conclusion I desire. Both the religious and the nihilist use this technique in order to squelch thinking they find offensive. Both cults have learned how to employ this technique of linear induction, along with its interpretive confirmations (see below), to control the direction of science. Hence existence of the obtuse form of parsimony, ‘Occam’s Razor’.
Allow me the privilege of in advance establishing the necessity of the questions asked, and I can prove absolutely anything that I want.
This is much akin to the philosophical apothegm ‘Grant me one miracle and I can explain all the rest’. It behooves the ethical skeptic to understand the role of necessity in the development of an alternative – and in particular, understand when an agency has bypassed the burden of necessity (as has been done by Aquinas above), or even more importantly when a case for necessity has indeed been established – and is being artificially blocked by fake skeptics.
It is not proof which they are in reality demanding, contrary to what fake skeptics contend (in science there is really no such thing as proof), rather it is plurality of explanation which they fear most.
As it pertains to fake skepticism, it is this case for necessity of plurality which must be blocked at all costs. They cannot afford to have more than one explanation (their simple one) be researched by science.
A Case for Necessity
It is a set of observations, and nothing else, which ultimately serves to establish a case for necessity. This is why the scientific method must begin with observation and not by means of the ‘asking of a question’. When one asks a question – one assumes necessity a priori; much akin to the trick played by Saint Aquinas above. For example ‘Are you beating your dog?’ is not a scientific question, because it exposes itself to the ad hoc nature of arrivals of affirming evidence (only positive feedback), and does not rely upon the epistemological principle of a model’s predictive, consilient or probative power. This contrast between affirmation versus predictive model development – in essence the contrast between Occam’s Razor and Ockham’s Razor, is exhibited below.
Predictions are derived in advance from inductive modeling, and are placed at risk. Affirmations are ad hoc in nature, and further then are reinterpreted to fit according to an anchoring bias. Necessity (N) therefore under real skepticism, is something one establishes – and can never be something that a researcher assumes in advance.
So, given the abject reality of linear affirmation basis which inhabits The Affirmative Model ‘Occam’s Razor’ above, when indeed does a body of observation, therefore lead to a case for necessity? There are five conditions wherein a case for scientific plurality can be established through observational necessity. It is important to remember however, that in none of these cases is any particular answer proved (in other words, plurality exists or persists). Nor is any claim being made that science has been completed – as a case for necessity constitutes the beginning of the scientific method and not its completion.
The Five Cases for Necessity
I. When a consilience of observation has implied/predicted that the null may indeed possibly be false.
Example: The idea that our current 53 event vaccine schedule is ‘safe’, has been brought into question through a myriad of observations by parents and administering medical professionals. This does not mean that vaccines do not work – but rather straightforwardly, that the unchallenged null hypothesis, that vaccines do not also bear unintended and long term health consequences, has been brought into legitimate scientific question.
II. When one or more null-falsifying/probative observations have been recorded.
Example: Observing the presence of something assumed to be absent. Finding one incident of permanent cerebral injury (encephalitis) immediately after receipt of a vaccine. Such an observation serves to introduce necessity of plurality.
III. When risk incumbent with the null is greater than any particular alternative’s risk in epistemology.
Example: Deploying a pesticide under a presumption of safety, backed up by a couple confirmatory studies conducted by the company which stands to profit from the deployment of that pesticide. Despite immaturity of the study suggesting a lack of safety, such plurality must be assumed under a principle of precaution.
IV. When the null hypothesis, in order to avoid being falsified, has become more complicated than any of its alternatives.
Example: Monarch butterflies are being impacted indirectly by man made global warming and not by the direct impact of glyphosate on their annual migratory breeding grounds.
V. When the credibility or unbiased nature of the science which served to establish the null, has come into question.
Example: When Monsanto internal communications shifted from a theme of promoting scientific studies, to an oppressive policy of ‘no challenge left unanswered’ – countering and squelching opposing viewpoints in the media at all costs.
This therefore serves to introduce the condition wherein agency attempts to manipulate necessity so as to control the reigns of science.
The Four Abuses of Necessity on the Part of Fake Skeptics
Blocking Necessity – the principal tactic of fake skepticism. By asking for ‘proof’, the fake skeptic is in essence attempting to block access to the subject by science. This is a Catch 22 Proof Gaming or non rectum agitur fallacy.
Equating Simplicity with a Lack of Necessity – another key tactic of fake skeptics. An appeal to ignorance is an example of this tactic. Because we see no evidence for something, the simplest explanation is that it does not exist.
Equating Simplicity with Necessity – a tactic of fake skepticism. The existential Occam’s Razor fallacy appeal to authority is an example of this. Because an explanation is simple, therefore it is the truth. No further science is warranted.
Assuming Necessity – a final tactic of fake skepticism. The Confirmative Model (above) is an example of this. Because an idea tickles me emotionally, therefore it is granted immediate necessity – not having to justify itself nor satisfy the rigor of probativeness, consilience nor predictiveness.
All of these conditions are conditions of corruption of the scientific method, for which the ethical skeptic must be ever vigilant.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Necessity – A Case for Plurality”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 19 May 2019; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-9KR
The abuse or misemployment of Ockham’s Razor as an appeal to authority/ignorance is a key indicator as to a person’s lack of scientific literacy. Indeed, the actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method, not complete it in one fell swoop. It is the ethic and nature of science to prosecute incremental risk in conjecture – a simple explanation puts little at risk – this is why it appears to fail less often. This is in part, an illusion.
Science is, the very task of introducing and resolving, incremental plurality. Rational thinking under Ockham’s Razor is the demonstrated ability to handle such plurality with integrity.
It is the simplicity sell of the pretend skeptic. They fail to understand Ockham’s Razor, so in 1972 they crafted this mutated version called Occam’s Razor, affording one permission to wrap up all epistemological loose ends as ‘finished science’ in one fell swoop of fatal logic. Thereby rendering the world simple to explain; facile for tender hearts from then on. Let’s take a more detailed look at both the scientific and virulent-error forms of Ockham’s Razor.
Fake Skepticism’s ‘Occam’s Razor’
We begin first with two clever variations of the infamous, itself simple and simultaneous appeal to both authority and ignorance: ‘Occam’s Razor’:
All things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one.
or its ‘whoops, maybe that was not so scientific after all’ cousin,
Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
What is really being stated with these apothegms:
All things being equal, that which is easy for most to understand, and as well conforms with an a priori stack of easy-to-understands, along with what I believe most scientists think, tends to obviate the need for any actual scientific investigation.
Within these two apothegms, the illusionist is exploiting the cache of obviousness, to imbue credibility into a broad-footprint, non-scientific weapon word called ‘simple’. These apothegms are not, nor do they have anything to do with, scientific skepticism. These statements constitute the most oft-quoted variants of pop-skepticism’s Occam’s Razor. Occam’s Razor is commonly employed as appeal to authority/reverence (the authority/chain of reverence in question is the apothegm itself, the celebrity skeptics who repeat it over and over, Carl Sagan, and William of Ockham himself – although a straw man contention in that final context). Neither constitutes in actuality the scientific principle, Ockham’s Razor.
A Simpleton’s Game
Employing such statements as a final decision heuristic constitutes an Asch Conformity error, which is indeed a form of appeal to reverence/authority (see Argument from Authority/Cognitive Bias). The first one-liner above, popularized by Carl Sagan in the movie Contact, is a sleight of hand expression taught by Social Skeptics and often called ‘Occam’s Razor.’ It is employed errantly as this aforementioned twisted decision heuristic, abused to force a premature disposition on an idea, dismiss observations and data as if they were ‘claims’ and further squelch disdained topics which would otherwise be entertained for research by Ethical Skepticism. The weakness of the statement above resides in the philosophical principle that the simplest answer is typically the one which falls in line with the pre-cooked assumptions, the stack of risky-but-nothing-actually-placed-at-risk provisional knowledge we are bringing to the argument.
Neither does one even have to decide. I hope dear reader, that you caught the sleight-of-hand involved in this. Implicit within this version of Occam’s Razor reside the claims that all relevant knowledge is currently mastered by the one issuing disposition and that data/observations must immediately be ‘explained’ so that a disposition (read that as dismissal) can be issued prematurely. These actions serve to obviate both the data aggregation and intelligence development steps of science; a fallacious gimmick employed to abrogate the scientific method. Among competing hypotheses, all things being equal, perhaps neither/none should be selected, regardless of our assumptions about their soundness-thru-simplicity. Such wisdom by means of suspended judgment would constitute a novel approach known as epoché (suspension and skepticism).
This trick, the false claim to ‘You see it’s simple…,’ is a common huckster tactic, bearing little in common with true rationality and failing the Popper science demarcation. Simple, is in its essence an affirmation of a stack of probable conjecture, ignoring its risk-chain – whereas reduction-falsification is one single conjecture which places its risk in the crucible for all to see. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy expounds on the weakness of simple (stacked probable) thinking in terms of Popperian Philosophy:
“In the view of many social scientists, the more probable a theory is, the better it is, and if we have to choose between two theories which are equally strong in terms of their explanatory power, and differ only in that one is probable and the other is improbable, then we should choose the former. Popper rejects this.”1
“You ever hear the expression ‘Simplest answer’s often the correct one’?” “Actually, I’ve never found that to be true.” – Gone Girl, 20142
A second sleight-of-hand plied by these statements is the conflation of simplicity and obviousness. Hearing hoof-beats behind you and deciding whether or not they are coming from horses or zebras pertains to obviousness, not simplicity. Examples such as this are misleading as analogues to actual scientific hypothesis reduction. If one avoids stepping into traffic, one is not employing Ockham’s Razor. In philosophy, obviousness is not an analogue sufficient to justify an appeal to simplicity. Neither is simple necessarily analogue to straightforward (the actual scientific reduction practice). Beware of those who use the simple to justify the simple (see graphic above).
A simple explanation is not ‘easy to falsify’ as many skeptics claim – that is a misunderstanding of science method and inference. It is the ethic and nature of science to prosecute incremental risk in conjecture – a simple explanation puts little (nothing in reality) at risk and places all its ‘increment’ into one comprehensive multiple faceted assertion, and then hides its underpinning assumptions. Nothing in reality is placed at risk at all.
A simple explanation is more difficult to reduce, probe for soundness and evaluate – often promoting the facile misconception that it is therefore ‘robust under examination’.
This is the same technique which a magician uses – exploiting an audience’s proclivity to seek the simplest or fewest-assumptions explanation.
Ethical Skeptic’s Axiom
Accurate, is simple. But that does not serve to make simple, therefore accurate.
One litmus of a cult resides in that it produces an ever-evolving fan fiction. A cult message is simple, but reveals itself to be highly complicated over time. A scientific understanding is complex, but grows to become straightforward over time.
Imagine if a magician started his show with ‘All things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one’. He would quod erat demonstrandum, then be God by the end of the show. This is why a simple explanation only appears to fail less often. It is much more difficult to challenge, because it hides its epistemology. This is in part, an illusion. A very costly and uninformative illusion. Science is, the very task of employing the leverage power of reducing or falsifying the increment, and not affirming the ‘simple’ per se. For example, in terms of what is called inferential bootstrap strength in medical studies, one must establish a shitload of linear affirmations of standing wisdom, in order to counter for one violation of it (falsification). Because a single straightforward instance of violation (white crow) of our wisdom is vastly more scientifically informative (probative) than is any particular entire body of evidence linearly affirming it (thousands of black crows).
An Important Example: Pseudo-Deduction
A key example of both the misapplication of ‘simplicity’, and the abuse of Occam’s Razor to effect (and enforce) a conclusion, rather than qualify for plurality can be found below in a November 2019 article by Natalie Wolchover in Quanta Magazine. In this circumstance a team at the Universities of Rome, Manchester and Oxford employed an observation concerning the Cosmic Background Radiation to infer for sponsorship (not final proof, and this is key) that the universe may indeed be concave in its first four dimensions, back in upon itself (closed) – and not be flat, as is the current understanding.3
The data in question — the Planck space telescope’s observations of ancient light called the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — “clearly points towards a closed model,” said Alessandro Melchiorri of Sapienza University of Rome. He co-authored the new paper with Eleonora di Valentino of the University of Manchester and Joseph Silk, principally of the University of Oxford. In their view, the discordance between the CMB data, which suggests the universe is closed, and other data pointing to flatness represents a “cosmological crisis” that calls for “drastic rethinking.”
In response, cosmologist Antony Lewis abuses a bad teaching of ‘Occam’s Razor’ in order to misdefine simplicity as ‘that which is easy for most to understand, and as well conforms with an a priori stack of easy-to-understands, along with what I believe most scientists think’. As you can see, PhD’s can get this wrong too. The net result and probably most egregious error which Dr. Lewis plies here, involves as well the use of ‘Occam’s Razor’ as a conclusion heuristic – deriving a final answer in the here and now, with only the information we currently hold. This is not Ockham’s Razor’s purpose at all, and as an errant praxis is guaranteed to eventually produce a wrong answer, requiring Kuhn-Planck Paradigm Shift at some point in the future.
However, the team of scientists behind the Planck telescope reached different conclusions in their 2018 analysis. Antony Lewis, a cosmologist at the University of Sussex and a member of the Planck team who worked on that analysis, said the simplest explanation for the specific feature in the CMB data that di Valentino, Melchiorri and Silk interpreted as evidence for a closed universe “is that it is just a statistical fluke.” Lewis and other experts say they’ve already closely scrutinized the issue, along with related puzzles in the data.
The simplest explanation is that they are just wrong. I love that one. Corruption of the logical methods of science and inference. Don’t let your integrity slip to the point where you catch yourself using these practices to deceive others, or employing ‘Occam’s Razor’ as a habitually reflexive martial arts response, deflecting information from entering your rational playing field. What we observe in this important example of the abuse of Occam’s Razor are two informal fallacies and one formal fallacy (soundness) introduced via what is in effect, an errant philosophy of pseudo-deduction:
Transactional Occam’s Razor Fallacy (Appeal to Ignorance)
The false contention that a challenging construct, observation or paradigm must immediately be ‘explained.’ Sidestepping of the data aggregation, question development, intelligence and testing/replication steps of the scientific method and forcing a skip right to its artificially conclusive end (final peer review by ‘Occam’s Razor’).
Existential Occam’s Razor Fallacy (Appeal to Authority)
The false contention that the simplest or most probable explanation tends to be the scientifically correct one. Suffers from the weakness that myriad and complex underpinning assumptions, based upon scant predictive/suggestive study, provisional knowledge or Popper insufficient science, result in the condition of tendering the appearance of ‘simplicity.’
Observational Occam’s Razor Fallacy (Exclusion Bias Fallacy of Soundness)
Through insisting that observations and data be falsely addressed as ‘claims’ needing immediate explanation, and through rejecting such a ‘claim’ (observation) based upon the idea that it introduces plurality (it is not simple), one effectively ensures that no observations will ever be recognized which serve to frame and reduce a competing alternative. One will in effect perpetually prove only what they have assumed as true, regardless of the idea’s inherent risk. No competing idea can ever be formulated because outlier data and observations are continuously discarded immediately, one at a time by means of being deemed ‘extraordinary claims’.
Finally, Occam’s Razor suffers from the fact that it can be employed to conceal pseudoscience, inside three surreptitious mistakes of agency, when allowed to impact requisite skepticism:
When simplicity or parsimony are incorrectly applied as excuse to resist the development of a new scientific explanatory model, data or challenging observation set, when indeed the participant refuses to consider or examine the explanatory utility of any similar new model under consideration.
Appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial. Easily earned, arrived at or won – derived without the requisite rigor or effort. Something easy to understand, which is compatible with a predicate or associated stack of also easy-to-understands.
The condition when the ‘rational or simple explanation’ requires so many risky, stacked or outlandish assumptions in order to make it viable, that is has become even more outlandish than the complex explanation it was originally posed against and was supposed to surpass in likelihood. Similarly, a condition wherein the proposed ‘more likely or simple’ alternative is just as outlandish in reality as is the originally considered one.
Perhaps a more valid expression describing this principle is bound up in the popular equivocal version of Ockham’s Razor:
Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.
With this aphorism, we begin to encroach upon the valid principles which underpin the real Ockham’s Razor (below). However, be careful with this large equivocal footprint version of Ockham’s Razor. Socially this statement leaves open (and has been often abused in this way) the notion that categories should not be added to social groups, or ideas should not be brought to the table for consideration, observation, intelligence or sponsorship in social or scientific discourse – for no other reason than disdain. All under the unskilled apothegm based science that ‘I don’t want to consider this’ coded inside the abuse of a twisted form of philosophy. This is the exclusive-conclusive abuse of ‘Occam’s Razor’ which is popular among those bearing an oppressive social mindset and seeking to appear to have science back their politics, religion and personal hatreds. So while the second variant above is indeed better than its ‘simplest explanation’ cousin, its amphibology potential still affords malicious mindsets an open door to apply it in error. It still can be used to stand tantamount to, and in substitution of, a material argument. This is philosophy being used to supplant science. This is pseudoscience. The actual principle does indeed involve a discretion of ‘entities’; however, the actual role of Ockham’s Razor, the real scientific principle, is to begin the scientific method by means of managing entities, not complete it in one felled swoop of denial (Occam’s Razor).
THE REAL OCKHAM’S/OCCHAM’S RAZOR
“Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” or “Plurality should not be posited without necessity”
Summa Totius Logicae, William of Ockham (frater Occham)
Ockham’s Razor does not in reality urge us to ‘select’ any alternative at all.
What Ockham’s Razor asks us to understand foremost are the valid Wittgenstein states of being ‘straightforward’ versus ‘complex’, and how that objectivity contrasts with the misleading semantics of ‘simple’ versus ‘complicated’. Understanding the difference is absolutely essential to scientific literacy.
The words are those of the medieval English philosopher and Franciscan monk William of Ockham (ca. 1287-1347).4 I use Ockham’s Razor because that is what most philosophers use, and it is the choice of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP: Ockham’s Razor).5 It is not that the use of ‘Occam’ is not acceptable; however, if you do not make it clear which version you are referring to, your recitation as such could stand as a warning flag highlighting a lack of scientific literacy, especially regarding issues of parsimony and explanatory research.
Please note that the pre-anglicized name of the village from which Ockham heralded was named Bocheham,6 and was called Ockham even before William’s life. It was never at any time called ‘Occam’ nor ‘Occamus.’ Although its use is accepted, fewer serious scientific publications use the term ‘Occam’s Razor;’ and when they do, they mean the latter parsimony context presented here, and not the former ‘simplest explanation’ meaning above. Further, when he referred to himself in the Latin, he used the term “frater Occham,” and not ‘Occamus’ as some people claim in order to defend the widespread use in error (See William of Ockham’s sketch “frater Occham iste”, from a manuscript of Ockham’s Summa Logicae, 1341). This was not a case of pen-name selection, rather an attempt at a Latin transcription on the part of William. Therefore, this is not a case of petition for an official name as might be warranted in the instance of an author’s choosing a pen-name. Latin lexicons bore no precedent for an ‘ock’ based expression root, so the pseudo Latin version of Ockham chosen by William was Occham, and not ‘Occam’ nor ‘Occamus.’ Accordingly, William of Ockham employed ‘Occham’ in his translated work (which was the de rigueur of the day) and successive disciples of his employed the name Occhami in their Latin publications – which further was cited in error of transcription as the much later French Renaissance variant ‘de Occam’.7 So, as we step back into the proper context of original usage (case example: Neanderthal d. 1856 as proper over the later French to German Valley name change to ‘Neandertal’ d. 1904)8 – this does not mean that science also therefore must change the spelling of the original entity because the village after which it was named changed theirs at a later time. In similar fashion as regards modern English employment, Ockham is the correct modern transcription of the pseudo-Latin Occham and Occhami (these names did not actually exist in Latin – it would be like me signing my blogs Etticchus Parsimonae as a requirement to get them published – neither name or term actually exists in Latin – rather it would be a technically imprecise expression of pretense on my part). If however, one must insist on the pen-name approach, then one should honor the author’s clear expressed choice, and Occham’s Razor would be the only appropriate variant to employ.
Of key relevance however, this apothegm is a qualifying heuristic (neither exclusive nor inclusive nor conclusive, ie. not a decision heuristic), which simply cites that until we have enough evidence to compel us, science should not invest its resources into immaturely novel, discontinuous, unnecessarily feature laden, risk element stacked or agenda driven theories. This renders Ockham’s Razor more a discipline of economy, and not in the least the decision heuristic it is sold as by social skeptics. Not because the ideas which it may screen are false or terminally irrelevant, rather existentially they are unnecessary in the current incremental discourse of science. They are not yet relevant. Observation, intelligence and sponsorship are the steps in the scientific method which can serve to introduce necessity into the equation of science.
A suspension of relevancy is in no way tantamount to a material argument, nor may it boast an existential call to arms, for the assembling clubs of rationality and critical thought. Cabals which simply serve to entertain and encourage malevolent minds and instruct the credulous inside habits of denial. This is the pseudoscience of the fake skeptic. It is unfaithfulness to science, elucidating the stark scientific illiteracy afoul in the heart of those who practice such dishonesty.
When this is done as a matter of convenience in order to make the pseudo-principle go viral, or push selected answers, this is called being advantageously obtuse.
Advantageously Obtuse (Bridgman Reduction)
/philosophy : pseudo-philosophy/ : a principle which has been translated, reduced or dumbed-down for consumption so as to appear to be a ‘simple’ version of its source principle; however, which has been compromised through such a process. Thereby making it easy to communicate among the vulnerable who fail to grasp its critical elements, and moreover to serve as an apothegm useful in enforcing specific desired conclusions. Statements such as ‘the burden of proof lies on the claimant’ or ‘the simplest explanation tends to be correct’ – stand as twisted, viral forms of their parent principles, which contend ironically, critically or completely different standards of thought.
Bridgman Point – the point at which a principle can no longer be dumbed-down any further, without sacrifice of its coherency, accuracy, salience or context.
However, it is the latter half of this definition of Ockham’s Razor which is rendered advantageously obtuse by those in the social skepticism movement. One critical element of Ockham’s Razor most importantly also establishes that, once there exists a sufficient threshold of evidence to warrant attention, then science should seek to address the veracity of a an outside claim, or multiple explanatory approaches, or more complex versions of standing theory. This condition is called plurality. Plurality is a condition of science which is established by observations, intelligence and sponsorship, not by questions, peer review or claims. To block the aggregation and intelligence of this observational data, or attempt to filter it so that all data are essentially relegated as fiat anecdote, is pseudoscience. It is fraud, and is the chief practice of those in the Social Skepticism movement today. The claim of “Prove it” – or Proof Gaming Formal Fallacy, embodies this fundamental misunderstanding of Ockham’s Razor on the part of those who have not pursued a rigorous philosophical core inside their education.
The abuse or mis-employment of Ockham’s Razor is a key indicator as to a person’s lack of scientific literacy.
This statement, and in particular Ockham’s Razor’s employment of the term ‘plurality,’ is more commonly recognized in research science as the principle of parsimony:
/philosophy : scientific method : construct and theory discipline/ : the resistance to expand explanatory plurality or descriptive complexity beyond what is absolutely necessary, combined with the wisdom to know when to do so. Avoidance of unnecessarily orphan questions, even if apparently incremental in the offing.
To understand the role of Ockham’s Razor parsimony inside the concepts of elegance and design, see The Nature of Elegance. And of course we would be remiss without defining the axiomatic principle inside parsimony, which is the defining essence of Ockham’s Razor:
Plurality (plural of entities)
/philosophy : scientific method : construct and theory discipline/ : adding entities or complexity to an argument. Introducing for active consideration, more than one idea, construct or theory attempting to explain a set of data, information or intelligence. Also, the stacking of features or special pleading to an existing explanation, in order to adapt it to emerging data, information or intelligence – or in an attempt to preserve the explanation from being eliminated through falsification.
A related form of parsimony is a principle called Corber’s Burden. It states that the burden of proof falls, even to one who is claiming falseness. Falseness being a claim just the same as a primary affirmative contention. This applies as well to the condition where a ‘skeptic’ implies falseness by a variety of means. Not only this, but in a broader sense, when one makes multiple claims, or contends that they have identified the core domain of falseness (pseudoscience), then that claimant bears the ultimate burden of proof. This is a form of surreptitious plurality error embodied inside Corber’s Burden.
When one tenders an authoritative claim as to what is incorrect – one must be perfectly correct.
/philosophy : argument : burden of proof/ The mantle of ethics undertaken when one claims the role of representing conclusive scientific truth, ascertained by means other than science, such as ‘rational thinking,’ ‘critical thinking,’ ‘common sense,’ or skeptical doubt. An authoritative claim or implication as to possessing knowledge of a plural set of that which is incorrect. The nature of such a claim to authority on one’s part demands that the skeptic who assumes such a role be 100% correct.
Many subjects reside inside this arena of doubt, wherein a claim to falseness is under the same burden of scrutiny as is the claim to verity. This threshold of plurality and in contrast, the ‘proof’ of an idea, are not the same standard of data, testing and evidence. Muddying the two contexts is a common practice of deception on the part of SSkeptics. Proof is established by science, plurality is established by sponsors. SSkeptics regard Ockham’s Razor as a threat to their religion, and instead quote the former substitute above, which while sounding similar and ‘sciencey’, does not mean the same thing at all. An imposter principle which rather seeks to blur the lines around and prevent competing ideas from attaining this threshold of plurality and attention under the scientific method. Their agenda is to prohibit ideas from attaining this threshold at ANY cost. This effort to prohibit an idea its day in the court of science, constitutes in itself, pseudoscience.
Abuse of ‘Occam’s’ Razor to Effect Knowledge Filtering
One of the principal techniques, if not the primary technique of the practitioners of thought control and Deskeption, is the unethical use of Knowledge Filtering. The core technique involves the mis-use of Ockham’s Razor as an application to DATA and not to competitive thought constructs. This is a practice of pseudoscience and is in its essence dishonesty.
Ockham’s Razor, or the discernment of plurality versus singularity in terms of competing ideas, is a useful tool in determining whether science should be distracted by bunk theories which would potentially waste everyone’s time and resources. Data on the other hand is NOT subject to this threshold.
By insisting that observations be explained immediately, and through rejecting a datum, based on the idea that it introduces plurality, one effectively ensures that no data will ever be found which produces a competing construct. You will in effect, perpetually prove only what you are looking for, or what you have assumed to be correct. No competing idea can ever be formulated because outlier data is continuously discarded immediately, one datum at a time. This process of singularly dismissing each datum in a series of observations, which would otherwise constitute data collection in an ethical context is called “Knowledge Filtering” and stands as a key step in the Cultivation of Ignorance, a practice on the part of Social Skepticism. It is a process of screening data before it can reach the body of non-expert scientists. It is a method of squelching science in its unacknowledged steps of process and before it can gain a footing inside the body of scientific discourse. It is employed in the example graphic to the right, in the center, just before the step of employing the ‘dismissible margin’ in Social Skepticism’s mismanagement of scientific consensus.
Plurality is a principle which is applied to constructs and hypotheses, not data.
I found a curious native petroglyph once while on an archaeological rafting excursion, which was completely out of place, but who’s ocre had been dated to antiquity. I took a photo of it to the state university library and was unable to find the petroglyph in the well documented inventory of Native American Glyphs. I found all the glyphs to the right and all the glyphs to the left of the curious one. However, the glyph in question had been the only one excluded from the state documentation work performed by a local university professor. A senior fellow at the foundation supporting the library, when I inquired replied appropriately “You know, maybe the Glyph just didn’t fit the understanding.” He had hit the nail on the head. By Occam’s Razor, the professor had been given tacit permission to filter the information out from the public database, effectively erasing its presence from history. He did not have to erase the glyph itself, rather simply erase the glyph from the public record, our minds and science – and excuse it all as an act of ‘rational thinking.’ And were I to attempt to insert this glyph into the scientific record myself, I knew that my career would come under attack. So I left the issue at that point.
The Purpose of Ockham’s Razor is to BEGIN the scientific method, not screen data out and finish it.
Data stands on its own. Additionally, when found in abundance or even sometimes when found in scarcity, and not eliminated one at a time by the false anecdotal application of “Occam’s” Razor, can eventually be formulated into a construct which then will vie for plurality under the real Ockham’s Razor. A useful principle of construct refinement, prior to testing, under the scientific method.
As you might see below, plurality resides at the heart of scientific research. But the unsung heroes of plurality are the sponsors of original, creative, persistent and perceptive research who drive the process of plurality (Scientific Method Steps 1 – 5, below). They, even more so than authors and studies undergoing the process of Peer Review, bear the brunt of disdain from faking scientists and SSkeptics who seek to prevent the process of plurality from occurring at all costs.
When rational thinking becomes nothing more than an exercise in simply dismissing observations to suit one’s inherited ontology, then the entire integral will and mind of the individual participating in such activity, has been broken.
Sometimes what is celebrated as simple, is in reality merely obtuse.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Ethical Skepticism – Part 5 – The Real Ockham’s Razor”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 30 Jun 2013; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-1GU