William of Ockham put forth a somewhat infectious theory some six hundred
and fifty years ago -- ``the mind should not multiply entities beyond
necessity. What can be done with fewer ... is done in vain with more.''
This is the very cornerstone of scientific theory -- of competing theories
which all adequately explain the phenomena, choose the simplest. There
are, I was surprised to learn, Ether theories that can explain all the
various phenomena that Einstein's relativity explains. Those theories are,
however, a little more complicated, and the prevailing minimalist aesthetic
which Ockham put in place declares them therefore to be incorrect (or at
least less correct).
I find this insistence that the universe tends towards simplicity both
arbitrary and somewhat boring. I mean, if I was
Goddess, you can
bet that I'd get all the mileage out of omnipotence that I could. Given
a choice between two fundamental particles and twelve, I say ``Damn the
theoretical physicists -- they can name the last two `Beavis' and
`Butthead' for all I care!'' A lot of scientists think that the current
theories of subatomic physics must be flawed because there are too many
fundamental particles. ``Surely,'' they insist, ``the universe couldn't
possibly have this much going on at such a basic level.'' Well, why not?
No damned good reason, that's why not. So, to combat the deeply-entrenched
minimalist predisposition, we propose Ockham's Knapsack, the
Principle of Alimony, in which
you multiply entities until your head hurts and, when at all possible,
come up with bar-none the most ridiculous explanation of even the
simplest phenomena. Why name such a principle after Ockham, who espoused
just its opposite? Well, y'see, it all begins with the fact that
muskrat mating season used to be three weeks long and fell right in the
middle of December (before the aliens modified them)...