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A new razor

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
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Kevin Levites
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A new razor

Post by Kevin Levites » April 25th, 2019, 11:39 am

I was tossing ideas back and forth with some friends of mine during a reunion, and the talk turned to Occam's Razor.

In this process, I came up with a new razor rule, but I've been unsuccessful in finding out if it's been suggested before, and I would like to know if my idea is original, so any input (even negative input) would be appreciated.

So, here is Levites's Razor:

"Never blame an insufficiency of theory on that which can be adequately explained by a sloppy and/or substandard application of said theory."

Is this original? Or wishful thinking on my part?

Thank you in advance for your time in considering my post.

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Iseewhatyouresaying
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Re: A new razor

Post by Iseewhatyouresaying » April 27th, 2019, 4:23 pm

The idea doesn’t really seem that useful to me. It seems like something that people understand already. Everyone knows it’s unfair to mischaracterize a theory by an example of it being misapplied in some way.

Also, trying to come up with cute catchy names for things is pointless. Terms tend to arise naturally in the first place, it’s usually arrogance that drives someone to come up with their own terms hoping to create something original, something that everyone will begin using. It’s just to feed ego. Unless you have a genuine purpose for doing so, an example being Heidegger’s use of Dasein.

Maybe it’s unfair to say that coming up with terms is only arrogance, after thinking a little, a lot philosophers often create their own complex terminologies in order to communicate complex ideas. Not that they weren’t arrogant, most philosophers are, it’s just that their terminology served a real purpose, sometimes (there was also arrogance involved, in my opinion).

In your case, I don’t see the real need to place that idea under a specific title. The idea isn’t really original, as I said, anyone who argues in good faith knows it’s unfair to mischaracterize a theory by an example of it being misapplied.

Unless I misunderstand you’re meaning in some way, in which case, could you rid me of my ignorance and explain to me the true meaning of your idea?

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Kevin Levites
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Re: A new razor

Post by Kevin Levites » April 28th, 2019, 11:48 am

Thank you for answering, and I don't entirely disagree with your points. I have been known to be arrogant on occasion.

The idea came up after a discussion of Occam's Razor, and after that someone else brought up Hanlon's Razor (Never attribute to malice anything that can be explained by stupidity), and once the gears got turning (we indulged in some "herbal medicine", and reached that stage where "everything I think seems so profound"), I came up with this razor rule about the sloppy application of theory.

I was a paramedic for many years, and during my tenure in EMS there was a constant battle between theorists in safe, comfortable classrooms who wanted things done according to certian principles, and working paramedics (such as myself) who see a difference between theory and how things actually work in the streets.

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Kevin Levites
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Re: A new razor

Post by Kevin Levites » April 28th, 2019, 11:55 am

Part of this issue is that I--when teaching EKG interpretation to nurses, paramedics, and med school students--always included Occam's Razor (in one form or another) in my curriculum.

I didn't require perfect scores on my oral and written tests for students to pass my course, but they had to get the problems with Occam's Razor correct.

If they didn't get Occam's Razor correct, they failed and had to do it over again.

When I was invited to teach in different hospitals, I would tweak any part of my course to satisfy the educators....except for Occam's Razor. That was non-negociable, and they could get another instructor if they weren't happy with this.

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Re: A new razor

Post by h_k_s » April 29th, 2019, 10:01 am

Kevin Levites wrote:
April 25th, 2019, 11:39 am
I was tossing ideas back and forth with some friends of mine during a reunion, and the talk turned to Occam's Razor.

In this process, I came up with a new razor rule, but I've been unsuccessful in finding out if it's been suggested before, and I would like to know if my idea is original, so any input (even negative input) would be appreciated.

So, here is Levites's Razor:

"Never blame an insufficiency of theory on that which can be adequately explained by a sloppy and/or substandard application of said theory."

Is this original? Or wishful thinking on my part?

Thank you in advance for your time in considering my post.
Sorry. But that sounds dumb to me.

Occam's razor says that of all possible explanations, the simplest explanation is probably the most likely to be true.

It is not necessarily true. But it is popular.

Argumentum populorum.

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Re: A new razor

Post by Intellectual_Savnot » April 30th, 2019, 5:39 pm

@h_k_s I don't agree that Occam's razor is true whatsoever as you describe it. It seems the most simple explanation would be the most likely to not account for the intricacies of any given situation. Unless we consider of course that a simple answer addresses one thing where a complicated answer addresses many things, usually including that which the simple answer addresses, but runs a higher risk of claiming a fallacy in the large quantities of arguments it would make a claim for... well I have successfully confused myself while typing so never mind and good day.

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Re: A new razor

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 4th, 2019, 9:27 am

Kevin Levites wrote:
April 25th, 2019, 11:39 am
So, here is Levites's Razor:

"Never blame an insufficiency of theory on that which can be adequately explained by a sloppy and/or substandard application of said theory."
in this is 'theory' the theory of theories in science that have been around for a while and survived a great deal of reseach type of theory or the more colloquial use of the word 'theory'? IOW it could be seen as not rapidly drawing negative conclusions about ideas that have been working well due to finding a small amount of counterevidence or potential counterevidence.

If this is the case, I think a better version would be that when finding counterevidence or apparant counterevidence, get in there and see if it is counterevidence or poor application or poor testing protocols or whatever.

I make this potential quibble because this is less conservative. Your version it seems to me can lead one to ignore anomolies. And humans have a habit of that. Yes, some humans base all their conclusions on anomolies, but we don't have to choose between problematic opposites.

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Re: A new razor

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 4th, 2019, 9:29 am

Kevin Levites wrote:
April 28th, 2019, 11:48 am
Thank you for answering, and I don't entirely disagree with your points. I have been known to be arrogant on occasion.

The idea came up after a discussion of Occam's Razor, and after that someone else brought up Hanlon's Razor (Never attribute to malice anything that can be explained by stupidity), and once the gears got turning (we indulged in some "herbal medicine", and reached that stage where "everything I think seems so profound"), I came up with this razor rule about the sloppy application of theory.

I was a paramedic for many years, and during my tenure in EMS there was a constant battle between theorists in safe, comfortable classrooms who wanted things done according to certian principles, and working paramedics (such as myself) who see a difference between theory and how things actually work in the streets.
I'm confused, because this almost seems like the opposite of the OP. Here now it seems like the new OR is trying to counter glass tower theorists who refuse to notice evidence coming in from people actually 'experimenting'.

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Re: A new razor

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 4th, 2019, 9:33 am

h_k_s wrote:
April 29th, 2019, 10:01 am
Occam's razor says that of all possible explanations, the simplest explanation is probably the most likely to be true.
It doesn't say this. That's and ontological claim, whereas the OR is a methological suggestion. If we have two hypotheses that fit the evidence, let's agree on the one that posits less entities. This way we are protected from drawing more conclusions than is necessary (so far).

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Kevin Levites
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Re: A new razor

Post by Kevin Levites » May 5th, 2019, 9:50 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 9:27 am
Kevin Levites wrote:
April 25th, 2019, 11:39 am
So, here is Levites's Razor:

"Never blame an insufficiency of theory on that which can be adequately explained by a sloppy and/or substandard application of said theory."
in this is 'theory' the theory of theories in science that have been around for a while and survived a great deal of reseach type of theory or the more colloquial use of the word 'theory'? IOW it could be seen as not rapidly drawing negative conclusions about ideas that have been working well due to finding a small amount of counterevidence or potential counterevidence.

If this is the case, I think a better version would be that when finding counterevidence or apparant counterevidence, get in there and see if it is counterevidence or poor application or poor testing protocols or whatever.

I make this potential quibble because this is less conservative. Your version it seems to me can lead one to ignore anomolies. And humans have a habit of that. Yes, some humans base all their conclusions on anomolies, but we don't have to choose between problematic opposites.
Thank you.

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Re: A new razor

Post by h_k_s » May 5th, 2019, 10:37 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 9:33 am
h_k_s wrote:
April 29th, 2019, 10:01 am
Occam's razor says that of all possible explanations, the simplest explanation is probably the most likely to be true.
It doesn't say this. That's and ontological claim, whereas the OR is a methological suggestion. If we have two hypotheses that fit the evidence, let's agree on the one that posits less entities. This way we are protected from drawing more conclusions than is necessary (so far).
SAME-EE SAME G/I.

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Re: A new razor

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 5th, 2019, 2:52 pm

h_k_s wrote:
May 5th, 2019, 10:37 am
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 4th, 2019, 9:33 am

It doesn't say this. That's and ontological claim, whereas the OR is a methological suggestion. If we have two hypotheses that fit the evidence, let's agree on the one that posits less entities. This way we are protected from drawing more conclusions than is necessary (so far).
SAME-EE SAME G/I.
I am not sure what you mean. It can't be gastrointestinal at the end.

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Re: A new razor

Post by h_k_s » May 6th, 2019, 10:39 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 5th, 2019, 2:52 pm
h_k_s wrote:
May 5th, 2019, 10:37 am


SAME-EE SAME G/I.
I am not sure what you mean. It can't be gastrointestinal at the end.
Vietnamese pidgin for "same-ee same G/I (soldier)."

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Re: A new razor

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 7th, 2019, 2:16 am

h_k_s wrote:
May 6th, 2019, 10:39 am
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 5th, 2019, 2:52 pm
I am not sure what you mean. It can't be gastrointestinal at the end.
Vietnamese pidgin for "same-ee same G/I (soldier)."
If you mean that what you said and what I said are the same, they are not.
To say that simpler explanations are more likely to be true is a theory about how the universe works and is made up. Like it is more likely it will turn out that consciousness is caused by a simple mechanism than a complicated one, because simpler explanations are more likely.
Whereas the OR is a methodological explanation...
if we have two explanations and one of them has less entities and they both work equally well explainging the pheonomenon, then is is better to choose the simpler one.

Those are very different kinds of ideas, the first is a theory about ontology, the second is a suggestion about how community decides what to consider knowledge.

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Re: A new razor

Post by h_k_s » May 7th, 2019, 3:49 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 7th, 2019, 2:16 am
h_k_s wrote:
May 6th, 2019, 10:39 am


Vietnamese pidgin for "same-ee same G/I (soldier)."
If you mean that what you said and what I said are the same, they are not.
To say that simpler explanations are more likely to be true is a theory about how the universe works and is made up. Like it is more likely it will turn out that consciousness is caused by a simple mechanism than a complicated one, because simpler explanations are more likely.
Whereas the OR is a methodological explanation...
if we have two explanations and one of them has less entities and they both work equally well explainging the pheonomenon, then is is better to choose the simpler one.

Those are very different kinds of ideas, the first is a theory about ontology, the second is a suggestion about how community decides what to consider knowledge.
Simpler explanations are more likely to be true -- you are correct.

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