DOI: 10.1111/nyas.15086 ISSN: 0077-8923

Razor sharp: The role of Occam's razor in science

Johnjoe McFadden
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


Occam's razor—the principle of simplicity—has recently been attacked as a cultural bias without rational foundation. Increasingly, belief in pseudoscience and mysticism is growing. I argue that inclusion of Occam's razor is an essential factor that distinguishes science from superstition and pseudoscience. I also describe how the razor is embedded in Bayesian inference and argue that science is primarily the means to discover the simplest descriptions of our world.

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