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dudeicus comments on Occam's Razor - Less Wrong

37 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 September 2007 06:36AM

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Comment author: dudeicus 23 March 2011 02:50:04PM 2 points [-]

Science is just a method of filtering hypothesis. Which is exactly what Occam's razor is. Occam's razor is not a philosophy, it is a statistical prediction. To claim that Occam's razor is not a science would be to claim that statistics is not a science.

Example: You leave a bowl with milk in it over night, you wake up in the morning and its gone. Two possibly theories, are one, your cat drank it, or two, someone broke into your house, and drank it, then left.

Well, we know that cats like milk, and you have a cat, so you know the probability of there being a cat is 1:1, and you also know your cat likes to steal food when your sleeping, so based on past experience you might say the probability of the cat stealing the milk is 1:2, so you know theres two high probabilities. But when we consider the burglar hypothesis, we know that its extremely rare for someone to break into our house, thus the probability for that situation, while being physically possible, is very low say 1 in 10,000. We know that burglars tend to break into houses to steal expensive things, not milk from a bowl, thus the probability of that happening is say 1 in a million.

This is Occams razor at work, its 1/1 * 1/2 vs 1/10,000 * 1/1,000,000. Its statistics, and its science. Nothing I described here would be inaccessible to experimentation and control groups.