"Ockham's Razor" is a phrase. It describes a world-view that was around long before a particular William of undistinguished parenthood was born in the town of Ockham. The phrase itself is useful today only as an identifying hallmark of the poorly educated bourgeois.
But first, a bit of background.
"William of Ockham" was of such low birth that he had no surname; he was known in later life only by the town in in which he was born. It's quite likely he was a bastard.
Further evidence of his low birth can be found in the theological (and somewhat political) tenet that he championed throughout his life: the moral superiority of absolute poverty. This misguided notion, together with his stubborn nature, led to his excommunication, together with a couple of his troublesome Franciscan bretheren.
In his futile railings against Vatican authority (often in the person of John XXII), William frequently invoked a principle held dear to many a mediæval peasant: the principle of "parsimony."
This tenet is still alive today, and it is still favored mainly by the uneducated and the poorly educated. The ignorant classes, the proletariat mass of burger-flippers, tech-supporters, and "systems administrators," generally refer to this shallow philosophical outlook with an appropriately vulgar phrase: "keep it simple, stupid." The resultant acronym is often used as shorthand by the lazy.
The truly elite, of course, are often amused by the invocation of William, because it is so often deployed by the bourgeois in defense of an idea that the man from Ockham worked hard to discredit, to wit: the idea that "science" has any existence outside of the human imagination. In point of fact, William's most significant contibution to philosophy was the idea of of "notionalism," a direct antecedent of modern epistemology. It is quite droll, you see?
This sort of learned irony, of course, is entirely opaque to the bourgeousie. They, the poorly educated, have learned that the phrase "keep it simple, stupid" is laughable in a world that is obviously complicated, but they cling to the notion nonetheless, as they do not have the education necessary to address complexity. What their pseudo-education does provide, however, is fancy phrase for their childish philosophical outlook. The bourgeois can not be bothered to remember a word like "parsimony," and indeed why should they, when there is a phrase that contains the added bonus of an implicit appeal to authority: to wit, "Occam's Razor?"
The elite will appreciate the further irony in the the fact that that the phrase was likely coined by William's detractors, as a "razor," at the time, was a tool only of highwaymen, barbers, and cutpurses, and the implement was known far more for drawing blood than drawing fine distinctions.
In sum, the phrase "Occam's Razor" is hallmark of the poorly educated. If you see it being deployed in earnest, without knowing allusions to its historical predecessor, "parsimony," or its most vulgar modern variant, "KISS," or to its bloody mediæval connotations, then you can be sure that you are witnessing the efforts of the poorly educated bourgeois, attempting to preserve cherished simplicity through an implicit appeal to authority.
I offer the forgoing only as a cautionary essay; I suspect that even if I knew what they were, I would have no interest in these "Five Slashdot Moderation Points" that you offer as compensation for adequate explanation. Perhaps they can be donated to some sort of charity, if it comes to that.
© 2002, RobotSlave. You may not reproduce this material, in whole or in part, without written permission of the owner.