QR1.6.1 Occam’s Razor

Occam’s razor is not to multiply causes unnecessarily and to prefer the simpler theory. A century ago, Bertrand Russell denied the idea that life is a dream by appealing to common sense and Occam’s razor:

There is no logical impossibility in the supposition that the whole of life is a dream, in which we ourselves create all the objects that come before us. But although this is not logically impossible, there is no reason whatever to suppose that it is true; and it is, in fact, a less simple hypothesis, viewed as a means of accounting for the facts of our own life, than the common-sense hypothesis that there really are objects independent of us, whose action on us causes our sensations.” (Russell, 1912)

Does the same logic apply to virtualism? It is still common-sense that something out there causes things apart from us but the “objects” of current physics that cause things are virtual particles like gluons that pop out of empty space then disappear in the effect. A physics where space curves, entities teleport and time dilates is no longer a “common-sense hypothesis”. It isn’t common-sense that a universe of matter exploded from a point of no dimensions or that light waves vibrate nothing. Today, common-sense might agree that our universe booted up and that light waves move on the screen of space.

In Russell’s time, a few elementary particles with a few properties like mass, charge and spin were enough but modern physics needs forty-eight fundamental particles, twenty-four fitted properties, five invisible fields and fourteen virtual particles to explain just the basics. To explain more, such as inflation, neutrinos and dark matter, needs more complexity in the form of new fields, particles and parameters. String theory, its best attempt at a universal theory, needs at least eleven dimensions to work. It’s hard to imagine anything more complex than physics today so it isn’t preferred due to its simplicity! As the following chapters show, quantum realism can explain the same facts using one fundamental process, four dimensions and one field.

Physics based on physical realism was once the simpler theory but that isn’t true today. Fast forward a hundred years and Occam’s razor cuts the other way, as virtualism is now a simpler theory.