Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful
Gabriel Weinberg

Sorry, but I disagree with your interpretation of Ockham’s Razor — “The simplest solution is usually the correct one.” This is a common misunderstanding.

My understanding of Ockham (he was ‘Occam’ when I first met him!) is that we work with (go along with) the simplest solution (we would call it a hypothesis nowadays) that is consistent with the data, until that solution no longer fits the data (i.e. it is falsified). At which point we revise our hypothesis (explanation) to the simplest solution that is consistent with the new data.

I don’t think that O suggested that the simplest solution is usually the correct one: it often is not. But it should be our starting point.

A rough translation of O’s original Latin might be “don’t make things unnecessarily complicated.”

That’s what I teach my 17–18 year old students, anyway!


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