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Occam's Razor

  1. Dec 6, 2003 #1
    Occam's razor n[William of Occam](ca.1837):a scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities

    Merram-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, 2000

    If we don't look for explanations of unexplained phenomena in terms of known quantities first then a kind of speculative free for all will ensue: flying saucers are from another planet, flying saucers are from another dimension, flying saucers are from the hollow interior of the earth, flying saucers are time travelers from the future.
     
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  3. Dec 6, 2003 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    I think you've got William of Occam misdated. He was medieval, not 19th century.
     
  4. Dec 6, 2003 #3
    The date appears to refer to William, but is in fact an approximate date for the first known usage of the term as defined here. Many of the words in the Merriam-Webster's are dated thus. Sorry for the confusion.

    Edit: The tenth edition says (ca.1837)

    The eleventh edition (most recent) gives medieval dates:

    Merriam-Webster OnLine
    Address:http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Occam's+razor

    I suppose the tenth edition actually contained an error.

    Try going here and looking up Occam's razor, you might get the version that says (ca.1837):
    Merriam-Webster OnLine
    Address:http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2003
  5. Dec 6, 2003 #4
    A lot of folks prefer speculative free-for-all. It is democratic. Nothing is worse than some know-it-all kill-joy wrecking the fun.
     
  6. Dec 6, 2003 #5
    Well, sometimes it's democratic. Sometimes, though, the ones who believe flying discs are from another planet feel the need to gather in the desert at night and invoke the mothership to vaporize all those who believe the discs are from the hollow earth.
     
  7. Dec 6, 2003 #6
    I don't think they have had a very great success rate at that, Zoob.
     
  8. Dec 6, 2003 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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  9. Dec 6, 2003 #8
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  10. Dec 6, 2003 #9
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  11. Dec 6, 2003 #10

    selfAdjoint

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    All I could manage to read in that blurry image was that pilots reported a bright object, radar confirmed it, and the pilots had visual aftereffects from the brightness.

    Is there some reason you know that it couldn't have been a meteor? Perhaps a single body breaking in two to give the illusion (to those who sayw it only in flashes) of supernatural acceleration?
     
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  12. Dec 6, 2003 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    If you read the entire document, including the intial summary and the routing list, you will see that this is an intelligence report that went to nearly all of the highest levels of goverment. Mulitiple eyewitnesses and pilots confirm RADAR data. I suggest that you study the report before commenting further.
     
  13. Dec 6, 2003 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    I didn't make a claim. I asked you to explain it.
     
  14. Dec 6, 2003 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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  15. Dec 6, 2003 #14
    It seems that Ivan's link may have been intended as some sort of challenge to Occam's razor.

    I don't, and no one should be, claiming anything to the effect that it can be used to explain anything away, or to explain everything in terms of known quantities.

    It is a guidline about how to go about investigating unknown phenomena: start in terms of known quantities.

    It also won't help you if you can't collect enough evidence to come to a solid conclusion.

    That's where the simpler theory being preferable to the complex theory comes in.
     
  16. Dec 7, 2003 #15

    selfAdjoint

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    Nah, I don't think that who saw the report contributes anything to its veracity. None of those high ranking muckymucks were trained analysts. I am always puzzled about this line of argument by the believers; Jack Sarfatti is always going, "Gee the Communist high command! "Gee The CIA!" back some claim or other as if we hadn't all seen how foolish and self serving all those agencies can be.

    And multiple pilots and confirmed RADAR were implicit in my original question. I still don't think you have ruled out a breaking up meteoroid in what you have posted here on the subject.
     
  17. Dec 7, 2003 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    No, it was to put into proper context the UFO comments made.
     
  18. Dec 7, 2003 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Well, if that's your best attempt at objectivity so be it.
     
  19. Dec 7, 2003 #18

    selfAdjoint

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    Sarcasm about my "objectivity"? You posted the thing and said "explain it". I posted an explanation and you said I didn't read all the routings that it went through. I said (I believe correctly) that routings are not evidence and my explanation for the primary event has not been refuted. So I have failed some test in objectivity? Sorry to accuse another mentor of spouting bunk, but that's what it is.
     
  20. Dec 7, 2003 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    It seems to me that you haven't even read the paper. If the paper reflects a real event, then the meteor explanation is ridiculous. Sorry, but that's what it is.
     
  21. Dec 8, 2003 #20
    What "proper" context did it put them in?
     
  22. Dec 8, 2003 #21

    Ivan Seeking

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    It provides a nice snapshot of the phenomenon. It also provides insight into the kinds of questions that need to be answered. [Sorry Zooby, there is just too much to start posting as jpgs]. Since it comes as an intelligence report that went to the white house, the joint chiefs of staff, the NSA, and many other high level offices, the credibility of the report is already established through defense intelligence. What we read about is something very strange indeed.

    Of course, I guess it is possible that every cheesy UFO report goes to the president.
     
  23. Dec 8, 2003 #22

    selfAdjoint

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    Ivan,

    I finally was able to read the original report in full. Both it and your later link to the joint chiefs of staff report locked up my computer. Thisa time I wa sjust about to cancel the pdf task when the thing finally came up. So having read it I agree it can't have been a meteor. What it can have been though is a made up story by those Iranian pilots, to explain some dereliction or other or just to spoof the brass. Did their planes have cameras? I don't see any reference to them. I might have missed it and I am not going into that twenty minute torture again to check on it.
     
  24. Dec 9, 2003 #23

    russ_watters

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    You forgot 'inventions of overactive imaginations.'
    That's burden-of-proof shifting. By posting the link you imply a claim and then leave it up to us to disprove it, alleviating yourself of the need to prove it.

    But wait....
    Is that a claim?

    Incidentally, my interpretation (its been a while since I've seen that and I also had trouble opening it) was that it was probably a helicopter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2003
  25. Dec 9, 2003 #24

    Ivan Seeking

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    Well, I can appreciate your problems. These government sites can be problematic.

    I agree that this is not proof of anything, however it can hardly be casually dismissed. Also, I am not aware of any film footage.

    For credibility arguments we must consider the source and the distribution. How often do you think the white house gets UFO reports? How sure would you have to be as a high ranking intelligence officer before forwarding the report to the President? I think that with this report and hundreds like it, we must consider the real possibility that something very unusual took place. Reports like this are the core of the evidence to answer; not claims of ET. I am convinced that if this kind of event can be explained, the rest of Ufology rests in the balance. If these events are real but can't be explained, then I guess I'm stuck with Art Bell and the Great Mother Ship.
     
  26. Dec 9, 2003 #25

    Ivan Seeking

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    As for William, I think he believed in UFOs; he called them angels.
     
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