Thinking as a Hobby

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

3478452 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Occam's Razor
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (8)

I recently watched the first few episodes of the series House M.D., which sounded like it might be interesting. It's passable entertainment, but not all that great, at least what I've seen so far.

But in the third episode, I got to see them butcher the concept of Occam's Razor. They've got a patient with a bunch of different symptoms, and instead of attributing them all to one condition, Dr. House says it's probably the result of two conditions that happened to strike the patient simultaneously.

One of his underlings objects, incorrectly citing Occam's Razor as: "But the simplest explanation is always the best." Then House says something like, "Well, you find a baby. Do you assume it has one parent or two? One is the simpler explanation, but is it the best?"

Sheesh. The first guy gets the basic concept wrong, and then House appears to "refute" it.

What Occam's Razor actually states is that the simplest explanation that still fits all the evidence is always the best. Basically, you shouldn't come up with a theory that is more complicated than it needs to be.

So assuming a human baby only has one parent is not employing Occam's Razor, because it doesn't fit at all with available evidence about how human babies are produced. It's an example producing a theory that is simpler, but does not fit the data. Maybe we could call that algorithm House's Toothbrush.

Read/Post Comments (8)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.