“Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”
-William of Occcam
A process or line of thinking commonly used in the scientific method which eliminates unnecessary elements so that a person can conclude with the most simplistic reasoning.
In other words, when trying to figure something out and you have more than one possible outcome err towards the least complex one.
It is also commonly quoted as, “Among competing hypotheses the one with the fewest assumptions and equal explanatory power should be chosen.”
Over the years the law of parsimony and Occam’s razor are used interchangeable; however, the above more clearly defines the law of parsimony and Occam’s Razor is more clearly defined as the act of removing such unnecessary elements.
William of Occam (1285 – 1349) was a Franciscan monk during the medieval age. During this time the only bastions of knowledge in Europe was predominately held by the Church. Ancient Greek and Roman works survived exclusively due to the various Catholic libraries which monks had access to. Most scientists, mathmaticians, and scholars at this time were monks and William was no exception.
William was voracious consumer of all things Aristole which influenced his thinking including his ideas of political theory, theory of abstraction, and of course what we now call “Occam’s Razor.”
Aristotle’s calls for simplicity plus William’s Franciscan minimalist lifestyle in addition to his adamant calls towards poverty all of which was taking place in the simplistic medieval times of the early 14th century makes the reasoning as to why he made such conclusions quite simple.
How to use it
Don’t Make It Bigger Than What It Is
“Simple statements are to be prized more highly than less simple ones because they tell us more; because their empirical content is greater; and because they are better testable.”
First this is not, nor was it ever, intended (at least by William of Occam) to be an absolute truth. It is used for deductive reasoning. To solve problems and reach conclusions faster.
When attempting to make a discovery it is easier to test hypotheses which have less variables. If these results are inconclusive we can begin to add more (essential) variables to uncover greater conslusions and reasoning.
Opponents state that simplicity is not absolute and not one ever said it was. Do not use occam’s razor as a substituted for sound logic or conclusive evidence. Tests must be had and if you’re serious they must be rigorous and a free market would dictate that testing with less variables is far easier and cheaper than testing with more (especially if unnecessary).
Make It Bigger Than What It Is
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler
-Albert Einstein (probably)
Occam’s razor has influenced a resurgence into essentialism which has lead to increased productivity and positive emotions and energy.
Over 20% of your body’s energy is burned by your brain which must consume large amount of glucose in order to maintain optimial cognitive function. Your body has a finite amount of glucose so the cognitively conscious of us must attempt to limit the unnessesities of life such as unnessesary complexities to create optimally.
During the creative process we to can utilize the merits of occam’s razor by adding only that which is needed for greater impact.
Take inventory of your life’s processes, obstacles, and all problems your are currently tyring to solve.
Determine what steps, variables, or other elements that you are currently utilizing and reduce them to their most simplistic versions.
Test them out, record your results and see if it works for you