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Nick_Tarleton comments on Occam's Razor - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 27 September 2007 12:16:02AM 6 points [-]

In science you do not get two theories

You're right - there are an infinite number of theories consistent with any set of observations. Any set. All observed facts are technically consistent with the prediction that gravity will reverse in one hour, but nobody believes that because of... Occam's Razor!

Comment author: Zaq 15 April 2014 06:22:37PM *  0 points [-]

I don't think this is what's actually going on in the brains of most humans.

Suppose there were ten random people who each told you that gravity would be suddenly reversing soon, but each one predicted a different month. For simplicity, person 1 predicts the gravity reversal will come in 1 month, person 2 predicts it will come in 2 months, etc.

Now you wait a month, and there's no gravity reversal, so clearly person 1 is wrong. You wait another month, and clearly person 2 is wrong. Then person 3 is proved wrong, as is person 4 and then 5 and then 6 and 7 and 8 and 9. And so when you approach the 10-month mark, you probably aren't going to be expecting a gravity-reversal.

Now, do you not suspect the gravity-reversal at month ten simply because it's not as simple as saying "there will never a be a gravity reversal," or is your dismissal substantially motivated by the fact that the claim type-matches nine other claims that have already been disproven? I think that in practice most people end up adopting the latter approach.