When something is unknown, does Occam's Razor always take over?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by garbonzo, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    You would be correct IF we had evidence of getting "reasonable above average probabilities all the time" (which we don't), and IF all other mundane explanations had been ruled out (such as the evidence being faked, being biased, being flawed in any way), and IF the calculations of probability were correctly established in the first instance.
    But since that has not been achieved... :shrug:
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  3. Layman Totally Internally Reflected Valued Senior Member

    I meant to say indirect evidence. The amount of indirect evidence would be overwhelming. I think the time of having to only rely on direct evidence in science is over.

    It is too easy to blame things on psychological issues. For instance a scientist my never have had a hallucination, but then when confronted by someone that has seen something supernatural they will blame it on this even though they have not seen any direct evidence of this actually occurring. I think the fact that they have not had any direct evidence that hallucinations can happen in normal people in normal everyday situations that it would be wrong to throw away the indirect evidence of people's claims as being as such when they have no direct evidence to support their claims via themselves having troubles with hallucinations.

    If you really think about it, it is kind of crazy to blame something on just a lot of people being crazy.
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  5. Layman Totally Internally Reflected Valued Senior Member

    Then what would Occam's Razor say about the validity of a theory developed by a layman or philosopher, if anything at all?
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Occam's Razor doesn't deal with the source of the hypothesis. (And by the way, PLEASE stop using the word "theory" incorrectly. It is not a theory until it has been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. Until then, it is a hypothesis. And ignore the poor communication skills of scientists, which results in them calling something "String Theory," even though it has as much validity as your hunch about who's going to win tonight's big game.)

    Occam's Razor only deals with the simplicity or complexity of the hypothesis. If it's easy to test, then Occam tells us to test it first, because if it turns out to be wrong, it hasn't cost us very much. The reason that hypotheses created by laymen are not usually tested first is that they are only simple in language. Lots of complexities are simply ignored, often because they don't even know they're there. Laymen don't understand science with any depth, so they unconsciously make assumptions that are mutually exclusive, or simply impossible. That makes their hypotheses very difficult to test, and sometimes downright impossible because they don't make any sense.

    You have to be at least scientifically literate and understand more than just the basic high-school principles of physics (or chemistry or whichever science you're working with) before you can hope to be able to formulate a hypothesis that will withstand the most cursory review by a real scientist.

    I spent three years at Caltech, so I probably know more about science than most Americans. Yet I wouldn't dream of making an appointment with one of that university's professors in order to review one of my own crackpot hypotheses. It would embarrass me and waste his time.

    I always let you folks review it first.

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  8. Layman Totally Internally Reflected Valued Senior Member

    "Theory is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking, or the results of such thinking. Depending on the context, the results might for example include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek, but in modern use it has taken on several different related meanings. A theory is not the same as a hypothesis, as a theory is a 'proven' hypothesis, that, in other words, has never been disproved through experiment, and has a basis in fact.
    One modern group of meanings emphasizes the speculative and generalizing nature of theory. For example in the arts and philosophy, the term "theoretical" may be used to describe ideas and empirical phenomena which are not easily measurable. And by extension of the philosophical meaning, "theoria" is also a word still used in theological contexts. As already in Aristotle's definitions, theory is very often contrasted to "practice" (from Greek praxis, πρᾶξις) a Greek term for "doing", which is opposed to theory because pure theory involves no doing apart from itself."

    If the idea comes from philosophy or pure speculation it could be considered a theory. It depends on its use and context. Since I am not a real scientist doing real scientific work on internet forums, I would think that would validate the use of the word theory. A philosophical principal would always be considered a theory.

    So then they will never call The Big Bang Theory, The Big Bang Law even though they have proven that the universe is expanding. As it is suggested that is all The Big Bang Theory "is", even though the name itself comes from the idea of an initial explosion. Then not being able to determine the cause of the initial explosion, it will remain a theory.

    Then the "String Hypothesis" is still just String Theory, as it is only mathematical abstractions. I agree with you that you shouldn't judge a "theory" by its cover, as most of the names of "theories" that have the word "theory" in them does not necessarily mean that it can only be considered as being a true "theory" by scientific standards. Saying that something is only a theory is fail in most religious debates as science doesn't really care to change the name of theories that have the word theory in them. We don't call it the "Law of Relativity", although I wonder if we would if we never discovered dark matter.
    That's seems like it would be a very reasonable "theory". To me this type of thinking is a form of Occam's Razor in itself. Then from the link from wiki above, " For example in the arts and philosophy, the term "theoretical" may be used to describe ideas and empirical phenomena which are not easily measurable."
    I recently posted on Susskind's blog since he gave the address in one of his online videos for people to ask him questions. I posted my question about why we should care if energy is conserved by using a principal in physics that has not been shown to conserve energy (particle pairs). Even though he said he would answer everyone's questions on the blog I don't think he will bother, because of a lot of the dumb questions already on there. Then looking at the blog, I noticed that he hasn't really bothered to answer anyone's questions in a long time.

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    I think it is a good thing to show reluctance in doing this kind of thing, as it would just keep them from something more meaningful.

    In a lot of science they develop theories to find a relation to something by showing how it conserved energy, but then everything they used in them was shown to conserve energy. It just seems strange that you could show conservation from two things that are completely unrelated and both do not obey conservation. It seems like it would imply that they are related and energy is conserved by those principals being linked together. It just doesn't seem like the right approach since particle pairs are not created from black holes and they don't obey conservation. Maybe he will come across it one day and relay it to Stephen Hawking.

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    Stephen Hawking doesn't even accept public ideas because of his disabilities. Only time can tell.

  9. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    At Sarkus,

    Still following me from thread to thread I see, still muffed because I laughed at your notion Random people were needed to calculate random chance.

    You have no idea what probabilities have been achieved in the PSI field, and say you are full of "it". So ...

    The only way to calculate probabilities is over time by the way. So I guess they do.

    I'll accept this as you saying I am correct.

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Indeed. And if the context is a website devoted to science (this is, after all, SCIforums), we should use the scientific definition. Even in History and Arts & Culture. These are supposed to be scientifically-oriented discussions of history and arts & culture. Anybody who wants a different perspective can Google a hundred websites of that nature in a few seconds.

    You many not be a real scientist, but you are on a science website. You're expected to comport yourself like a scientist. That's one of the things we expect our members to learn here, as a bare minimum.

    Not on a science website. And I think you meant "principle," not a voting partner in a consulting firm.

    A law is simpler than that. It can often be expressed as a single equation, such as Avogadro's Law: pV=nRT. Laws are developed to explain an entire family of phenomena. The Big Bang was a singularity, so we don't need a law to explain it.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics goes a long way toward explaining the Big Bang. It says only that entropy tends to increase over time. It clearly allows spatially and temporally local reversals of entropy. Since the Big Bang resulted in a balance of matter and anti-matter, etc., nothing was created. All that happened was an increase in organization, i.e., a spatially and temporally local reversal of entropy.

    The explosion was simply the predictable result of all that matter and antimatter coming into existence in one point of space and time. The cause of the explosion was a local reversal of entropy. We observe local reversals of entropy every day. Every living creature is a local reversal of entropy: extracting the organization from its surroundings (for example, killing other living things) in order to increase its own organization (digesting the tissue of the other living things to become larger, faster, etc.) Since the increase in the predator organism's organization is of smaller magnitude than the decrease in the prey organism's organization (the prey dies; the predator merely survives), one does not have to expand the horizon of the observation very far to find that the entropy of the universe as a whole has increased.

    Science deals with reality, so in science, a theory is a hypothesis that has been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. Mathematics deals exclusively with abstractions, so in mathematics a theory is a hypotheses that has been proven absolutely true, such as 1+1=2.

    Nonetheless, string "theory" is not meant to be abstract mathematics. It is meant to explain how reality works. This puts it outside the realm of mathematics, so it only needs to be proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. To date, that proof has not taken place, so it is still only a hypothesis.

    Indeed. Nonetheless we should clean up our act. The spawn of the Religious Redneck Retard Revival insist that since evolution is "only a theory," uneducated laymen who believe in the supernatural phenomena described in the Bible have a perfect right to challenge it.

    The world will never be a safe place for scholarship so long as the Stone Age phenomenon of religion remains with us.

    Scientists use "theory" when they mean "hypothesis," so when the hypothesis is finally proven true beyond a reasonable doubt, they still have nothing else to call it but a "theory." As I have complained often, scientists are absolutely shitty communicators.

    As for the impact of the discovery of dark matter (and dark energy), you'll have to take that question to the Math & Physics subforum, where there are some genuine scientists yearning for the chance to answer it. And of course since these are our guys, they are splendid communicators.

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  11. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Answer: It would say nothing at all, it is not about authorship.

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  12. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    People should be blamed for what they do, not for what they think or believe. If someone spreads homophobic propaganda then the blame for spreading it is on that person, if he doesn't then he has no blame for it, but could rather serve as a inspiration for others in his religion to not be homophobic. Put the blame on the religion itself, and try to change it, or influence the people following a religion to try to change it. I don't think it's right to look at everyone as a mass of people with no distinction, people are individuals also in religous affairs. You could potentially create what you don't like by showing them disrespect, furthering their negativity towards supporters of homosexuals and whatever else they are against (in general), as that is the person you are showing them, it is the attitute that they judge you by, instead if you meet them with respect for their opinions you could actually get somewhere if you want to make a change. Why not show them their errors in a respectful manner (unless they show disrespect towards you of course)?
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Disagree. If you plan to murder someone, then plot how to do it, then lie in wait and strangle them, that is worse than getting drunk, running into a pedestrian and killing them. In both cases the action is the same - you have killed someone. In the first case, however, what you THOUGHT (i.e. the premeditation) matters quite a bit. Thus the difference between first degree murder and manslaughter.

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