The Principle of Parsimony (Occam’s Razor)

General Thinking Tools
Named after the friar William of Ockham, Occam’s Razor is a heuristic by which we select among competing explanations. Ockham stated that we should prefer the simplest explanation with the least moving parts: it is easier to falsify (see: Falsification), easier to understand, and more likely, on average, to be correct. This principle is not an iron law but a tendency and a mindset: If all else is equal, it’s more likely that the simple solution suffices. Of course, we also keep in mind Einstein’s famous idea (even if apocryphal) that “an idea should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” - Shane Parrish “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” (related: conjunction fallacy, overfitting, “when you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras.”) - Gabriel Weinberg "Don’t concoct a complicated, extravagant theory if you’ve got a simpler one (containing fewer ingredients, fewer entities) that handles the phenomenon just as well. If exposure to extremely cold air can account for all the symptoms of frostbite, don’t postulate unobserved “snow germs” or “arctic microbes.” Kepler’s laws explain the orbits of the planets; we have no need to hypothesize pilots guiding the planets from control panels hidden under the surface." - Daniel Dennett
Resource Datasbase
Shane Parrish's Farnam Street Mental Model Guide via --- Gabriel Weinberg's Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful via --- Philosopher Daniel Dennett's Book Intuition Pumps