simplest explanation is usually the best one.”
This theorem was first put forth by William Occam (aka
William of Occam, sometimes also spelled as Ockham), a 14th century English Franciscan friar.
The principle says that if there are several possible reasons
for something happening, the reason that makes the fewest assumptions is likely
to be the right one. This philosophy is of great significance to the paranormal
investigators of the paranormal we often encounter very strange and unusual
events during the investigation or while reviewing the evidence. Being in the
paranormal field we are of course looking for evidence to support claims of
paranormal activity. But sometimes in our desire to find a good piece of
evidence we (as a community) reach pretty far and wide to “put the pieces
together”. Too often very obvious or common explanations are overlooked or even
excused in place of much more elaborate justifications for deeming something to
be paranormal in nature.
By applying the Occam’s Razor theorem it can more clearly be seen
that if you dismiss A as being the explanation while presuming B and C and D in
order to conclude the evidence is paranormal then most likely A is the true
answer. It’s not a hard&fast rule. But most often it is so.
- A photograph full of orbs take outdoors on a hot and humid August
night could be legitimately paranormal. But more likely it’s just moisture.
recorded sound of a floor board creaking in an old house during the winter is
probably more likely the wood expanding/contracting due to the temperature than
being the foot steps of a ghost.
- An EMF reading of 97mg in the living room of a
home is more probably the result of electric devices or poor wiring in the house
than an entity manifesting itself.
- A person claiming demonic activity in their
home but nothing is found on numerous investigations could indicate the entity
is hiding but is also likely the person is misinterpreting certain events.
This is not to say the statements from home owners/residence, friends, witnesses
etc. are always to be suspect or discounted. Not at all. But as responsible
paranormal investigators it is prudent to document the statements however not let
the claims influence your thinking about the source of activity. If activity can
be recreated by known artificial means the Occam’s Razor has to conclude the
recreation is probably more accurate than the claim and statements of paranormal
activity are more likely misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
The key significance of Occam’s Razor for the paranormal investigator is to
teach us to stop, think, and be realistic as to what is possible verses what is
likely. In the paranormal field we know that pretty much anything is possible.
But just how likely is it? If you have to connect too many dots, make too many
assumptions, call upon too many if’s to get to the conclusion of something being
paranormal than more likely it is not paranormal.
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