Matt Gemmell

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More on metaphysics

personal 2 min read

<a href="">Nat Irons</a> commented on my earlier 
<a href="">metaphysics post</a>. 
Here are some thoughts in response.
Nat said:
Why does the explanation for something we cannot currently understand have to be in terms of principles with which we're already familiar? This is the grand folly of science throughout the ages.
That's not grand folly, that's Occam's Razor.
Occam's Razor states (more or less) that, given multiple explanations for a single phenomenon, the <em>simplest</em> one is the best.

Thus, isn't Nat rather presupposing that the explanation based on existing mainstream-scientific principles is indeed <em>simpler</em>, 
in some sense, than another explanation? Nat seems to tacitly assume that this must be the case; I'm not convinced.

Of course, even now we're presupposing that Occam's Razor itself is "right", in that it in some 
way reflects the underlying order of things in the universe. Nat certainly bandies it about as a great rod of science. The missing point 
is that Occam's Razor is but an accepted tenet of modern scientific principle and technique - it is an accepted guideline and tool with which to proceed. 
It does not, in itself, warrant its own correctness.

Indeed, it is concerned with eliminating from <em>current</em> consideration that which cannot 
be observed in established ways, for the sake of simplicity - it does not in any way <em>discount</em> or <em>disprove</em> the existence of 
any such eliminated facets of the phenomenon. It asserts merely that 
an explanation thus stripped of "unobservables" is <em>more likely</em> to be correct. This is hugely different from a (foolish, and astoundingly arrogant) 
assertion that such an explanation <em>is</em> correct. It is also strictly a value judgement!

As with all things, at the end of the day, once you're posited your theory and ensured that it tallies reasonably (or at least plausibly) with your 
experimental data, the rest is simply a matter of <strong>belief</strong>. Nat chooses to believe in Occam's Razor; nothing more or less.

Things we can't currently understand nearly always turn out to be explicable through principles with which we're already familiar.
I'm always impressed by the elegant madness of that widely-held, self-perpetuating "fact". Has anyone stopped to consider 
<em>why</em> that may be the case?

The number of times the person glimpsed had actually died, divided by the number of times a member of the family took steps to check, would not turn out better than chance.
Genuinely, and without any sarcasm, I greatly admire Nat's strength of conviction in his beliefs. On evidence which is slender at best, mainstream science 
would have us believe all manner of things to be "facts". I'm not for a moment saying that established scientific principles are wrong; 
I'm in fact saying that it's foolish to be so <em>sure</em> they're <em>right</em>. For the self same reason it would be foolish for me 
to discount them!

To be direct: the grand folly of mainstream science is to speak of beliefs, however "founded", as <em>facts</em>. In doing so, it masterfully 
misses the boat entirely. In fact, the boat completely escapes perception.


Science lusts after, and reveres, that explanation which most completely and accurately explains and predicts the 
greatest part of experienced phenomena and observations. Why then does it continue to ignore the simplest, most complete, most accurate "theory" of them all? 

As I <a href="">said before</a>, it can be fully expressed in English 
using just two words.