OCCAM’S RAZOR – One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything. (Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate.)
OCCAM’S TAZER – All unwarranted neural activity will return to zap you.
Much use has been made of the allegorical razor most associated with Occam, though variations on that theme date back to Aristotle. Quite often the need for parsimonious simplicity has been used effectively by attackers and defenders alike of the same premise. With that parsimonious introduction behind us, let us look at the issue from a different perspective. Five hundred years after Occam another English clergyman and philosopher, Thomas Bayes, introduced a twist to the concept of probability by injecting prior sentiment into the interpretation of a probability. And it seems that is exactly how the brain works. The likelihood of defining an exact certainty for any event can easily overwhelm the brain’s capabilities; instead, it reverts to defining a probability for any eventuality, and then acts in accordance with that probabilistic interpretation. Where Bayesian probability enters the picture is in the fact that all that has gone before becomes part of this interpretation of a future probability. It appears that one never truly discards all the previous bad or unnecessary assumptions and presumptions that have brought us to where we are, and which continue to play a role, even if unconsciously so, in the decision making process. Especially, one suspects, in the more contentious matters like religion, or philosophy, or romance. All that unwarranted neural activity that was part of some past definition is hovering back there, idling like some supercharged capacitor just waiting to discharge when shorted out by an uncluttered revelation or fundamental realization, thus giving rise to what we so quaintly refer to as an epiphany.