Occam’s razor: The weaknesses of simple-looking explanations

By Gordon Rugg

So what is Occam’s razor anyway, and why should anyone care?

The core concept is brief: Other things being equal, we should choose the simplest valid explanation whenever possible.

Amateurs often view this concept as a clean blade of truth, cutting straight to the heart of the matter. It’s widespread in politics, often phrased as “common sense” analysis.

That’s a nice idea, but reality is more complex, and Occam’s razor often causes more problems than it solves. Like the damaged, time-worn razor in the picture below, it’s far from being a flawless blade.

straight razor 4

This article is about why simple-looking explanations often turn out to be complicated in reality, and why apparently complicated explanations often turn out to be simple.

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