Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A World Without Ockham






Man #1: What do you see here?
Man #2: Why it's fairly obvious, if I am to believe the evidence of my senses, that is a magical unicorn with the uncanny ability to perfectly imitate the likeness of a tree.
Man #1: What?! How did you possibly reach that conclusion?
Man #2: Well, look at it, it doesn't look like a duck does it?
Man #1: Of course not!
Man #2: Then we agree that it is not a magical unicorn imitating a duck... Instead it looks like a tree right?
Man #1: Yes.
Man #2: So I conclude it's a magical unicorn imitating a tree... what is the problem?
Man #1: Well, why not simply conclude that it is, in fact, a tree?
Man #2: Hmm... I hadn't thought of that... I suppose it's a matter of personal preference. In this case the evidence is no better for either assertion. That is, whether it were, in fact, a tree or a magical unicorn in the form of a tree, the evidence would be exactly the same, right?
Man #1: Well... I suppose if you imbue an imaginary thing with magical properties it would hypothetically be able to do anything, including imitating a tree, but...
Man #2: There you have it, then the choice comes down to what kind of world you prefer to live in, one in which there are unicorns and magic or one in which everything is simply and solely what it appears to be. As for me, I prefer the former.

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