"....The truth is out there."
-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
Thursday, February 08, 2007
-- Occam's Razor --
Oftentimes, people invoke "Occam's Razor" (or 'the law of parsimony') in discussing Ivory-bill evidence. Occam's Razor is essentially the idea that, in science, given a choice of multiple explanations one ought to opt for the simplest of the choices. Of course if 'simplicity' had anything to do with it none of us would be here reading or writing on the internet today; we'd all still be unicellular organisms pleasantly floating around in a vast roiling sea. In actuality, as many scientists have noted, the world is brim-full of complexity.
But putting all that aside, which is the 'simpler' explanation for all the reported sightings of Ivory-bills over the years, and recordings that seem to match up acoustically to the only IBWO calls on record:
1. Is it that each-and-every single one of these sightings over time by different people in different places, at different times, under different circumstances, is either a case of mistaken identity or outright fraud or insanity, and that every single auditory encounter is likewise explainable by some other possible surmised sound?
OR, is not the simplest explanation, by far, that,
2. Ivory-bills live...
AGAIN (...and again and again and again and AGAIN), the only reason skeptics find the 2nd explanation NON-simple is because they begin with a presumption of Ivory-bill extinction for which solid evidence does not exist (you can't assume something extinct that hasn't even been looked for adequately; you can assume it rare, scarce, uncommon, unusual, endangered, if you like, BUT NOT extinct). Even Tanner with all his supposed expertise could never find the Ivory-bills which he believed existed in South Carolina and Florida (he only 'found' the ones a guide led him to in La.). Why are his successors presumed to be so much more skilled than he was...
We all learned Euclidean geometry in school. But, as many of you know, in NON-Euclidean geometry they alter just one of Euclid's initial axioms (presumptions), and end up with a hugely different geometry which physicists tell us actually more closely represents the reality of the universe and curved space. Still, kids are taught the Euclidean form because it is common-sensical and a close enough approximation for day-to-day use, even if WRONG overall!
Change the presumptions, and you change the conclusions/ deductions... and Occam really has little to do with it.
By the way, a reader sends in this link to a story of rare vultures and other endangered species suddenly being discovered in Cambodia (gosh, how many times each year does this happen?) --- or maybe Occam would see it as more likely a case of spontaneous regeneration.