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Occam's razor and other scientific/thought principles - EXPANDING INTO YOUR MIND


Ishmael
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On a different forum a guy mentioned Occam's razor in CHAT a few nights back in response to me...

 

The principle is often summarized as "simpler explanations are, other things being equal, generally better than more complex ones." In practice, the principle is usually focused on shifting the burden of proof in discussions. That is, the razor is a principle that suggests we should tend towards simpler theories until we can trade some simplicity for increased explanatory power. Contrary to the popular summary, the simplest available theory is sometimes a less accurate explanation. Philosophers also add that the exact meaning of simplest can be nuanced.

 

Bertrand Russell offered what he called "a form of Occam's Razor": "Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor

 

I think I've used it to framework my thinking at least twice since I was introduced to it, so I (just) thought why not make a thread and ask you guys if there are any other interesting or worthwhile scientific/thought principles that I should be aware of...

 

(Wikipedia links are encouraged)

 

 

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Related, though a little more broad than specific principles on deductive reasoning/critical thinking, is "Pragmatic Thinking & Learning" by Andy Hunt.  Particularly interesting if you want to learn some of the how's and why's behind how we think and acquire skills.  The material isn't as dry as it sounds and it's presented well, but obviously technical depth has been sacrificed for accessibility.  Still, a good start into the subject matter and lots of good references to follow it with. 

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Would disagree in regard to your comment of 'these labels don't really help anybody or do anything useful', especially if you consider Maslow's hierarchy. 

 

One simple usage of the hierarchy is to inform  trainee teachers as to how to structure a successful learning environment.  It gives them a tool which they can use to analyse student progress, giving them a framework that would allow them to diagnose why students may/may not be making progress.

 

You need to consider the applications of these theories?

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I really like your comments about 'worthless psychology', I think I share similar thoughts, but you should consider using a different descriptor to 'worthless'.

 

You will like this...  Did you know that a diagnosis of autism/autistic spectrum disorder in the UK can vary dependent upon the local authority.  It is diagnosed on a 0-100% scale and each authority will set their own thresholds.  You may be diagnosed as being at, say for simplicity, 18%, which would allow you the provision that comes with the label in county A, whereas in country b the upper boundary is placed at 20% so you wouldn't gain the label and consequently no treatment.

 

Hashed last sentence there, fuck it.

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Well, that's sort of my point.  I don't think they need "theories" attached; I could point you in the direction of any number of wonderful teachers and managers who don't have a clue about Maslow but can do it anyway because they're people themselves, and they know how other people work as a result.

 

But the theories allow those that aren't enlightened to think in those specific ways...  That's the point of them.

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Then they haven't synthesized their new knowledge and aren't applying it correctly, consequently they need to be pointed towards bloom's taxonomy :lol:

 

...which is exactly the same f***ing thing as Maslow, on a different subject :lol:

 

I think it isn't the theories/frameworks that are broken/pointless, as you suggest, but the people you have observed attempting to utilize them failing slightly.  So, what you should be doing is giving those struggling managers a helping hand to use them.  That's why I suggested bloom's, because it would help them to think about how to apply new theories/concepts.  Obviously, synthesis of new information is very rarely an instantaneous process so they may need more time? 

 

I'd consider myself a good example in that sense.  I was introduced to many different ways of thinking a couple of years back and it took me a year or so of practice to begin applying them correctly and with regularity.

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I really like your comments about 'worthless psychology', I think I share similar thoughts, but you should consider using a different descriptor to 'worthless'.

 

You will like this...  Did you know that a diagnosis of autism/autistic spectrum disorder in the UK can vary dependent upon the local authority.  It is diagnosed on a 0-100% scale and each authority will set their own thresholds.  You may be diagnosed as being at, say for simplicity, 18%, which would allow you the provision that comes with the label in county A, whereas in country b the upper boundary is placed at 20% so you wouldn't gain the label and consequently no treatment.

 

Hashed last sentence there, f*** it.

poor example as that is for other reasons than it should be. i'll bet those areas that 'find' fewer cases find ma hell of a lot more if bequeathed millions to spend specifically on that condition.

 

i got told this from a friend who studied psychology and now works in advertising. "advertisng shouldn't work, we buy what we need and no ammount of telling us this is better than that, you need a new this or that will work because we know what advertising is about.........don't we ?"

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Here's one that I've use heavily and I'd expect a lot of people here will use or have at least had some experience with:

 

The de Bono Hats system (also known as "Six Hats" or "Thinking hats") is a thinking tool for group discussion and individual thinking. Combined with the idea of parallel thinking which is associated with it, it provides a means for groups to think together more effectively, and a means to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way.

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_Hats

 

I know that I'm an extremely negative thinker, always looking for limitations of things and trying to find ways to reject new ideas that I come across.  I would use any limitations I can think of to reject whatever new idea I've been introduced to. The problem in what I do (teaching) is that there is never really a definitive right or wrong way to go about certain things; almost every single approach will have its benefits and drawbacks. So, I'm always fighting with myself to see how new methods can be of some benefit and learn to work with them to help improve my practice. So, I've found this extremely useful from a simple angle of making conscious decisions to 'put my yellow hat on' for a few seconds

 

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poor example as that is for other reasons than it should be. i'll bet those areas that 'find' fewer cases find ma hell of a lot more if bequeathed millions to spend specifically on that condition.

 

I know, I didn't intend it to be an example.  Just a quirk that I thought would be interesting :thup:

 

The linkage was that ASD is (as in the name itself) ranked across a spectrum...

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In response to Open C, I can't see how any psychology can be ultimately worthless.

 

Fair enough; I just don't see the value in making subjective judgements and attempting to use those judgements to objectify individuals (if you see what I mean). I'm not writing it all off; just the bits that everybody already knows, and the bits that are so fuzzy that even psychologists don't agree with themselves :)

that goes for most disciplines though doesn't it, medicine, economics, philosophy ?
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like the example i gave earlier, the use of psychology in advertising and mareketing. i'd guess it can also be used in areas of mental health but like the idea that you don't go to the docs when you have a cold (that is what i guess you are see as the 'self evident' part of it) but there will be more to it than that.

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:lol:

 

OK then, I'll rephrase

 

My opinion (and that's all it is) is that a lot of pure psychology is based on giving names to, and formalising, observations which virtually every adult is capable of making for themselves.

 

:pow:

fwiw i think there are facets to psychology where you're synopsis is spot on, far too much to it to paont the whole discipline like that.
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