June 9th, 2005


Occam's Razor for breakfast, quantum mechanics for supper

There's a public lecture on 'The Mad World of Schrodinger's Cat' by Prof Tom Barnes (Auckland) on Wed 15 June, 7:00pm at Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building, Kelburn Parade, VUW. You have to email "einstein (at) rsnz.org.nz" with your postal address; they send you a free ticket. You can't get in without a ticket.

Been reading about William of Ockham. He was the Franciscan friar in the 14th century who came up with Occam's Razor, bane of conspiracy theorists everywhere. He was also a founder of nominalism, and argued that only individuals exist, rather than supra-individual universals, essences, or forms, and that universals are the products of abstraction from individuals by the human mind and have no extra-mental existence. Now, in my perhaps over-simplified view, that means that according to his philosophy, god was a figment of his imagination. Interesting viewpoint for a catholic. Also interesting is that his Razor has been used much more effectively to argue against Creation than it has for it. But then again, evolution could be used as an argument against Occam's Razor too. I imagine he's spinning in his grave, if he wasn't already. Mind you, he did get excommunicated for accusing the pope of heresy. So perhaps he was just a stirrer.

Apparently he also believed in shaving away at his life, in fact he got into the whole 'poverty is noble' thing well before King James was a twinkle in his daddy's eye. However, since he could read and write and got his masters degree in Paris (yes, masters degrees in the 14th century - his family is probably still paying his student loan), one can assume that he was brought up in a fairly privileged manner. I wonder if he would have been so into poverty if it wasn't a personal choice?

The thing that all this has left me wondering is, how do people of logic retain their faith? It seems, well, un-razorlike..
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Yeah, me again

Just reporting that I have the best teeth in the world with shiny enamel and sturdy construction and no fillings or any other expensive-ings required. My gums are what is substandard. So I have to go back this afternoon and they are going to do Mysterious Things which will scare the crap out of them and make them jolly well buck their ideas up. It may involve some discomfort, they said. I don't care ! NO FILLINGS! Not one! *feels sickeningly smug*

And, I just got an email from grist, who has a bag full of computer bits. Can we say excited?

Open heart surgery on pcs (ok I'll probably only be watching and passing the philips) is not really a substitute for coffee and good company. Nor is it a cure for migraines. But it sure as hell beats hanging around in that damn doorway for ten minutes a day..