What is Occam’s razor?

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Occam’s razor refers to a type of principle or reasoning wherein the simplest idea is considered the most likely answer to a particular question or problem. Although there may be lots of possible answers to a certain question, Occam’s razor basically takes the simplest and most obvious answer as the right one. In the case of doctors trying to diagnose the illness of a certain patient, he/she often uses Occam’s razor to pinpoint the most possible illness. This illness is often the most simple or obvious based on the signs and symptoms. The doctor in this case may not need to have the case investigated further through several medical tests but rather take the simplest answer. In Occam’s razor, no absolute proof is necessary to come with an answer to a question. The simplest answer or the answer that has the highest probability is taken as the right one.

The principle behind Occam’s razor is attributed to William Ockham. Based on his initial accounts, a concern may have several hypotheses or possible solutions but the simplest one is to be selected as the correct one. Based on historical data, Occam’s razor or the simple answers and solutions were eventually more verifiable when compared to complicated theories and hypotheses. Occam’s razor may not be absolute and that there are still cases wherein the complicated answer is correct, the general rule in is that many people accept the fact that in many areas in life, the simplest option is indeed the best answer to many questions.

Occam’s razor or the Occam principle can be applied to different problems and questions. The cause of a traffic accident and the reason for a student flanking an exam can best be answered using Occam’s razor. In the case of traffic, driver error may be the most simple answer rather than an elephant causing chaos in the street. For the student, he/she may not have studied enough rather than being disliked by the teacher. In both cases, the simplest explanation is the correct answer based on Occam’s razor.

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