[svlug] This mess is surely a conspiracy, my brain hurts and I don't like complexity or live long and prosper

Karen Shaeffer shaeffer at neuralscape.com
Sun Jan 18 08:50:53 PST 2015

On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 08:21:39AM -0800, Michael Eager wrote:
> On 01/17/15 21:52, Karen Shaeffer wrote:
> >On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 09:33:43PM -0800, Michael Eager wrote:
> >>On 01/17/15 20:53, Karen Shaeffer wrote:
> >>>On Sat, Jan 17, 2015 at 04:27:48PM -0800, Michael Eager wrote:
> >>>>On 01/01/15 17:31, Karen Shaeffer wrote:
> >>>>>Indeed, but Albert Einstein said keep it simple. Paraphrasing, Einstein
> >>>>>said: Never construct a theory that is more complex than it needs to be.
> >>>>>If you have two theories, and one is more complex than the other, while
> >>>>>both fully account for all observed data, then always pick the simplest
> >>>>>of the two.
> >>>>
> >>>>William of Ockham?
> >>>
> >>>Hi Michael,
> >>>Certainly an interesting guy. But I am personally a big fan of AE. He had a
> >>>lot of character flaws -- so he was human... If only AE had lived during our
> >>>time, he would have had a lot of fun with his very own linux cluster. AE is
> >>>an amazing human being in my opinion. He didn't have any computers. All he
> >>>had was paper, pencil, and his imagination.
> >>
> >>Einstein was interesting and 1905 was an excellent year.  But he didn't
> >>say what you attribute to him.
> >>
> >>Occam's Razor predates Einstein by some 500 years.
> >>
> >
> >Hi Michael,
> >Fair enough. I'm not suggesting AE was the first to make the observation.
> >It's actually an intuitive notion that generalizes to all of life. And
> >so, I doubt William of Ockham was the first to contemplate the notion
> >either. But he does get credit for it in Wikipedia. (chuckles ;)
> >
> >Albert Einstein made the comment exactly as I stated it, in the context
> >of developing theories and hypotheses. I don't think he cited Ockham
> >either... I am certain he didn't consider his statement to be novel. He
> >simply was stating the obvious.
> Where did he make this statement, which was exactly as you stated?
> Do you have a citation for this?
> I'm pretty sure that Eistein was acquainted with Occam's Razor, even
> if you aren't.  It appears that education was more comprehensive a
> century ago.

Hi Michael,
I don't need a citation. Albert Einstein was famously known for advocating
the concept of "Keep it Simple". If you aren't aware of this, then I suggest
you go study physics.

I've been aware of Occam's razor since high school. Since you seem to want to
make a big deal about it, lets put William Ockham and his razor in its proper

The notion of Occam's razor is obvious common knowledge to anyone who has
a rudimentary understanding of rational numbers, or real numbers, or complex
numbers, because it is an explicit property of those sets over the binary
operation of addition. And so, no one need cite Occam's razor in relation
to the notion -- it is common knowledge embedded within the vernacular of
basic algebra.

Here's a citation from the book, "Fundamental Concepts of Abstract Algebra",
“Based on Hindu and Greek sources, Mohammed ibn Mûsâ al-Khowârizmî of Baghdad,
in 825 A.D., wrote a textbook called Al-jebr, which, following its translation
during the twelfth century, was to have considerable influence on the subsequent
development of algebra in Europe.”

Here's another citation from http://science.jrank.org/pages/5743/Rational-Number.html
"More than 4,000 years ago the Babylonians coped with the need for numbers that would
measure fractional or continuously variable quantities. They did this by extending
their system for representing natural numbers, which was already in place."

And so it should be obvious that the concept of Occam's razor was well known and
firmly established in the number systems used during the time of William Ockham's
life. Occam's razor was of no mathematical or scientific significance at the time
William Ockham published it. What he did was generalize the well known mathematical
property into layman's terms, enabling common folks to appreciate it. And this
was rightfully perceived as a direct threat to the dogmatic structure of the religious
views of the day. And so it became controversial in that context. Nothing more and
nothing less.

Get over it, otherwise you will continue to make a fool of yourself.

Karen Shaeffer                 Be aware: If you see an obstacle in your path,
Neuralscape Services           that obstacle is your path.        Zen proverb

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