From: "Keith Woodard" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 08:38:06 -0700 Fwd Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 12:37:04 -0400 Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs > Date: Mon, 08 Jun 1998 22:19:54 +0200 > To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <email@example.com> > From: Jean van Gemert <firstname.lastname@example.org> > Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs > >Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 00:06:27 -0400 > >From: Mendoza <email@example.com> [Peter Brookesmith] > >Subject: Occam's Razor and UFOs > >To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <firstname.lastname@example.org> > <snip> > >*preferring* the solution that depends upon fewer "givens" > >in the theorem. (I assume you did read your Euclid in the > >upper third/first form/sixth grade at school.) There is no > >question - you only have to count - that concluding UFO > >reports are reports of ET visitors requires many more > >"givens" than concluding they do not. > Stop for one moment here, Peter, one important aspect just flew > over your head. It's not enough that a hypothesis be "simple", It > must also explain *all* the evidence to which it is directed. > E.g., you argue earthlights are preferred to the ETH but in many > of the cases that would require deliberately *filtering* out > aspects of the observations the earthlight theory wouldn't be > able to cope with. > In other words, you'd be omitting part of the problem domain, and > if the more "simple" explanation can account for only *part* of > the evidence then it's not a sound application of Occam's Razor. > The razor is just a logical tool which favors simplicity of > complexity, but *not* in the face of contradictory evidence. That > is, if the evidence suggests phenomena are more complex than one > would like you can't call on the Razor to dismiss the > contradictory evidence. <snip> I'm not sure it's quite that simple. Occam's Razor is actually the principle underlying the dictum Carl Sagan paraphrased from Marcello Truzzi: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Better evidence would be needed for someone's claim of traveling to Chicago by teleportation than by plane. In the absence of remarkable support for the novel "entity" of teleportation, explanations involving confusion, lying, false memory, altered states or even mental illness would have a strong appeal. Eyewitness claims are evidence, but it is sometimes unreasonable to accept them at face value. Whether they justify a radical revision of our worldview depends on their quantity and, more importantly, their quality. As one who has recently moved from soft skepticism to soft "belief," my sense is that, in the case of UFO's, this remains a judgment call. I'm still skeptical about crashes, contacts, and abductions. However, I don't think an occasional swoop through our atmosphere -- limited perhaps by some sort of "prime directive" -- would be nearly as extraordinary as, say, Al Bielek being teleported to Montauk. Astronomers expect myriad solar systems in our part of the galaxy, some capable of supporting life. Theoretical physicists like Professor Michio Kaku give wormhole-mediated faster-than-light travel a decent chance of viability, and, if it is possible, it should be accessible to Type II civilizations. My impression is that many astronomers take the "Fermi Paradox" ("Where the hell are they?") quite seriously. So to conclude that we are at least probably being visited by ET's should not require evidence as extraordinary as most skeptics insist. Certainly physical evidence seems unreasonable to demand of infrequent fly-by's. (This is especially true if Kent Jeffrey is in the ballpark regarding saucer reliability. And my information is that the Grey's are held to exacting safety standards by the Reptilian Astronautics Administration.) Fermi's Paradox is also the reason Occam's Razor favors the ETH over the extradimensional theory. The only other dimensions physicists think likely to exist are believed curled up to something like Planck length. There is no reason to think any contain solar systems, much less life.
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