Occam’s razor suggests that the more likely explanation for some phenomenon is the explanation which requires the fewest number of assumptions or required assertions. Even though in science the correct answer is sometimes the more complex one, rationally speaking, the fewer amount of assumptions that we have to make in order to get a theory to work, the better.
For example, think of how many assumptions you have to make to consider the September 11th attacks a government conspiracy. So many claims about time, space, engineering, politics, prior knowledge, flight patterns, etc., must be made to even start bridging the gap. On the other hand, the simpler explanation that requires less assumptions (and indeed has more evidence) is that a group of terrorists hijacked some planes and flew them into the buildings.
By association, Occam’s razor regularly dismantles most conspiracy theories without much effort. Of course, any of the conspiracies could be true, but without evidence the numerous assumptions that need to be made push these theories into irrational confines.
The infographic below takes a similar approach. On the side that accepts anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, it takes many more assumptions to make the idea that the majority of the world’s climate scientists are in collusion to make a worldwide hoax from which they see no benefit work than it does to think that oil companies are protecting their bottom line. We know that there are huge oil lobbies, oil companies that have scientists in their pockets, and that large corporations are trying to purposefully undermine the science of climate.
Therefore, which makes more sense?
[Via Brooke Jarvis on Twitter]