Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 14th Oct 2007 15:12 UTC
Legal This week's 'big' news on OSNews was about software patents. You know, those things that say you cannot stack four pixels on top of one another unless you pay money to the guy who invented four-pixel-stacks (or the guy who bought the guy who invented four-pixel-stacks). A company called IP Innovation, LLC, has sued Novell and Red Hat for infringement of the company's IP portfolio. Software patents are of course generally completely ridiculous, so I will not focus on that here. I want to focus on something else.
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Ockham's Obsession?
by h3rman on Sun 14th Oct 2007 16:13 UTC
h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

Thom, you seem to like Ockham's Razor a lot, and there is basically little wrong with that. However, you can't just attribute anything to that razor you like. The 'razor' does not really deal with detective research, but with science. The former needs actual evidence, whereas the application of Ockham's Razor is in itself used as evidence. This is a very real distinction.

Thus, Ockham's Razor works fine for linguistics, maths, physics, geology and chemistry, but it doesn't work that reliably in politics, business and other typically human concerns. It may, but that means very little as soon as the first complicating factor is introduced.

If married couples would apply Ockham's Razor to each other's suspicions consistently, there would be no married couples left. ;)

Then there is the complication that everyone is likely to interpret O.R. in the way that fits him/her best. Abusing Ockham's Razor to obscure circumstantial evidence in order to 'simplify' unsimplifiable events is, sadly, a very commonly observed phenomenon.

I could go on forever about this, but I'm such a kind person as to not do that. ;)

Reply Score: 11

RE: Ockham's Obsession?
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 14th Oct 2007 16:38 in reply to "Ockham's Obsession?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I could go on forever about this, but I'm such a kind person as to not do that.


Which is a good thing, since in all your eloquence, you're setting up a strawman argument. You pick on one certain bit in the final paragraph, something not at all important to the article itself, and take the article apart on that specific bit - completely disregarding my actual arguments.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Ockham's Obsession?
by miles on Sun 14th Oct 2007 16:53 in reply to "RE: Ockham's Obsession?"
miles Member since:
2006-06-15

Tom, I didn't have the feeling he was taking the article apart at all - he was just pointing your use of the OR, which is kind of him to do.

I also see OR being abused everywhere. I mean, Herbert has enough behind himself to be able to use it once in all his works, but why does everybody and their mom think using it makes their prose beautiful or relevant?

Usually, the first second you see OR in a book nowadays, you just know you have to drop it because the author's just gonna waste your time (I'm not talking about your article, Tom - fortunately, the OR cliché appeared only after I had the benefit to read your article and see that it wasn't half bad ;) )

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Ockham's Obsession?
by SReilly on Sun 14th Oct 2007 16:54 in reply to "RE: Ockham's Obsession?"
SReilly Member since:
2006-12-28

You pick on one certain bit in the final paragraph, something not at all important to the article itself, and take the article apart on that specific bit - completely disregarding my actual arguments.

Considering that the whole article pretty much hinges on your usage of Ockham's Razor, I'm afraid that h3rman hit the nail on the head.

Patronizing the hell out of h3rman's post does nothing to change that, it just smells of an arrogant inability to take valid criticism.

I say major fail!

Reply Parent Score: 17

RE[2]: Ockham's Obsession?
by h3rman on Sun 14th Oct 2007 16:55 in reply to "RE: Ockham's Obsession?"
h3rman Member since:
2006-08-09

take the article apart


Frankly, I was not trying or even aspiring to take apart the article as a whole, I was merely reacting to your fondness of O.R. and the way you seem to apply that here and elsewhere in your writings.

Any impression of me taking something out of context was unintentional, and I don't think I did that.

Maybe I did have to go on a bit. ;)

By the way, there is no such thing as a software patent. Code is never patented, only ideas are. There are only dumb patents (the great majority) and reasonable ones. If I'd ever had a (software) firm, I'd sure establish it outside of Patentistan.

Reply Parent Score: 11

RE[2]: Ockham's Obsession?
by marafaka on Mon 15th Oct 2007 09:02 in reply to "RE: Ockham's Obsession?"
marafaka Member since:
2006-01-03

Me, my mother, my uncle Josip, couple of my coworkers here at McDonnalds and five of my girlfriends would like to score you down, but it doesn't work. Why not? Will this feature be available in the next version of OSNEWS?

Thanks, it is very funny to read your posts!

Reply Parent Score: 3