Sunday, January 15, 2006

Occam's Razor

After an early morning run to Target (early for me which means noon-ish) the afternoon has been spent watching the first three episodes of House. I'm beginning to see, with serial viewing, a template for episodes in which patients get worse before they get better and House prefers to treat illness diagnoses (oy, what is the plural of diagnosis?) in order to prove the diagnosis by its response to treatment. Thus, nearly killing the patient by causing the aforementioned 'getting worse' and finally, House is given some tiny inconsequential bit of information which allows his brain to connect all the dots and cure the patient. I'm basing this opinion of the template on viewing around ten episodes, so the show may not always stick with that model. Even knowing the template, however, I adore the show. That said, episode three was titled "Occam's Razor". Mentally curious as I am, in all the potential meanings, I looked up the definition or background of Occam's Razor and I'll generously share what I learned with my single, unknown reader out there. ;o)
Occam's Razor

one should not increase, beyond what is necessary,
the number of entities required to explain anything

Occam's Razor is a principle of logic. Well, that explains why I'd never heard of it. Logic and I do not have a relationship. I'm a go with the flow, intuitive leaping kind of thinker...when I think. It is the basis for scientific modeling and theory building. It is associated with a guy from medieval times named, you guessed it, William of Occam. I'm taking a leap here, as I am wont to do, and guessing the razor references the cutting away of extraneous junk which muddies the waters when attempting to compose an explanation for something. Hmm, there you go, now the day is not wasted because we've learned something. Someday this bit of trivia may win someone money on Jeopardy! or...or...a radio call in program. You just never know. Wonder what that principle is called? Uh I'm going to have to do another internet search.

Update: In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that one cannot assign with full precision values for certain pairs of observable variables, including the position and momentum, of a single particle at the same time even in theory. I looked it up, I shared it with you, I'm stopping now. This isn't Numbers after all.

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