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Fake News? Take a Razor to It.

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Today’s piece of art is both a philosophical and a scientific principle. Though not actually created by William of Occam (also spelled Ockham) it was made famous by the 14th century philosopher because he used it so much to squash his opponents in discussions. The basic idea, made popular by critical thinkers and argumentative philosophers alike, is that ideas or hypotheses that are unnecessarily complicated are more likely to have flaws and are therefor less likely to be accurate.  In other more stripped down terms, and in the spirit of the concept itself, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

Occam’s Razor helps to remind us that when we hear conspiracy theories that dance and stretch to reach a single answer, they are often false. Occam’s Razor is a good reminder to keep in your head with the tidal wave of false news stories being tossed at us on the internet, television and in print. Does the story take too many unlikely steps to get from A to B? If yes, the story is likely false. This doesn’t mean that all simple tales are true but if there is less you need to strip away to get to a concrete fact, then the more likely it is that the story is accurate.

Keep your mind sharp my friends, there are some unnecessarily tall tales behind us and likely many more ahead.

 

 

 

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