RIP Philo

Simplicity is BS

I like this:

"The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanation of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be ``Seek simplicity and distrust it.'' - Alfred North Whitehead
Permalink son of parnas 
March 9th, 2007 11:18pm
Seems too simple.  sometimes things are simple and sometimes they aren't?
Permalink seems like a simple idea 
March 9th, 2007 11:19pm
Except nobody can tell you what is, nobody can agree on it when they see it, and when asked to produce it everyone makes something different.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 9th, 2007 11:20pm
Permalink seems like a simple idea 
March 9th, 2007 11:21pm
Seek simplicity and distrust it, and make sure all the facts fit, because if the dont support the conclusion, it will only add to the confusion, religion will rise in it's place, and tell you right in your face, that God did it all, and he did it as recent as last fall, and not at all, some billion years ago, that idea will just simply have to go.
Permalink Send private email Mikael Bergkvist 
March 10th, 2007 1:27am
We should always seek the most complex explanation that can not be disproven.
Permalink Scientist 
March 10th, 2007 2:17am
pointless generalisms are BS.
Permalink $-- 
March 10th, 2007 5:36am
> pointless generalisms are BS.

True and nicely self-referential.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 10th, 2007 9:49am
"that among the primary elements of nature as apprehended in our immediate experience, there is no element whatever which possesses this character of simple location. … [Instead,] I hold that by a process of constructive abstraction we can arrive at abstractions which are the simply located bits of material, and at other abstractions which are the minds included in the scientific scheme."

Whitehead, p. 72. Science and the Modern World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926
Permalink Send private email strawberry snowflake 
March 10th, 2007 10:18am
> character of simple location

There's a physical universe you are in it. That's location. Your human system for indicating that position is not important.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 10th, 2007 10:28am
heh. that's true, sop.
Permalink $-- 
March 10th, 2007 2:41pm
I too like what Whitehead says here. He is a mathematician who seems, from what he's said, to be pretty practical as well.

A couple more of his quotes:

"Knowledge does not keep any better than fish."

"The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them. When the idea is new, its custodians have fervor, live for it, and, if need be, die for it."
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
March 10th, 2007 2:46pm
like the one about the fish
March 10th, 2007 8:23pm
Yea. The one about the fish is good. Someone else said something similar recently. I don't remember the name.

It goes something like 'Knowledge is not like gold. It's more like milk. It comes with an expiry date'
Permalink Send private email Senthilnathan N.S. 
March 10th, 2007 10:00pm

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