Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hitchens' Razor

I get tired of having to assert in many words something that Christopher Hitchens has already stated quite well.

Hitchens' Razor: what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

This phrase is found in a Christopher Hitchens Slate article on Mother Teresa. To me it is a beautiful phrase that can be used to save a lot of time, as chasing down why someones non-supported statements are wrong is wasteful. It puts the onus back onto the asserter to give evidence to support their baseless assertion. Much less tiresome than the refuter having to argue, yet again, why it is that when there is no evidence for an assertion it is not the refuters job to find it for them.

So, when someone tries to tell you that faeries live at the bottom of the garden, just because! Just apply Hitchens' Razor.

Important Edit: The correct use should be Hitchens's Razor.  Please see my entry for the correction.

7 comments:

PedalPaleAleFan said...

An excellent proposal. And perhaps also a Corollary to the Razor: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

PedalPaleAleFan said...

An excellent proposal. And perhaps also a Corollary to the Razor: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Justicar said...

I like it.

1.) Occam's Razor
2.) Einstein's Razor
3.) Hitchens' Razor

Pedalpale: the extraordinary claims bit is from Laplace: the weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportionate to its strangeness.

Aidan Karley FGS, BSc said...

Sounds very good to me.
Oh, go on : I'll see if I cna get you Slashdotted!

Aidan Karley FGS, BSc said...

Submitted to Slashdot, though on consideration without the direct link to this blog, just the link through WEIT.
There are a lot of god-squad trolls on Slashdot, and if it gets onto the front page, you're likely to get a lot of attention, not necessarily welcome.

Rixaeton said...

Thanks to all for posting comments in support of a new razor. Let's hope it catches on, at least so that arguments without evidence are acceptably dismissed for the poor statements that they are. Hmm.. I don't know if that is coherent, as I have a migraine headache at the moment, but I think you get the idea.

Rixaeton said...

@ Aidan Karley: Thank you for submitting to /. as you did. You are right, fending off god-botherers is, well, bothersome, and Jerry's website is more credit worthy than my humble, poorly updated blog. Cheers :)