Critical Thinking in the Conspiracy Age: The Power and Neglect of Philosophical Razors
On Philosophical Razors, Big Tech, Policy and the Consequences of System 1 Thinking
I’ve been thinking a lot about philosophical razors — rules of thumb that allow people to eliminate unlikely explanations, or avoid unnecessary actions (as Wikipedia loosely defines). Razors are extremely useful devices when applied — they allow us to cut through hype and conspiratorial thinking, and to better understand the likely decision making processes that go into systems.
You’re probably familiar with a few, even if you’re not familiar with their names:
Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
Alder’s Razor: If something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, then it is not worthy of debate.
Einstein’s Razor: Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Hitchens's Razor: That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
Occam’s Razor: As between two ideas that explain a phenomena, the simpler answer is probably the …