TIL About Occam’s Razor

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Photo by Manki Kim

The term “Occam’s Razor” comes from a misspelling of the name William of Ockham. Ockham was a brilliant theologian, philosopher, and logician in the medieval period. Occam’s razor is a principle of theory construction or evaluation according to which, other things equal, explanations that posit fewer entities, or fewer kinds of entities, are to be preferred to explanations that posit more. In other words, the simplest explanation is likely the best one.

The idea is frequently attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham(c.  1287–1347), a scholastic philosopher and theologian, although he never used these words. This philosophical razor advocates that when presented with competing hypotheses about the same prediction, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions, and that this is not meant to be a way of choosing between hypotheses that make different predictions.

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