What makes an explanation a good explanation? Isn’t the simplest explanation always the best? Why do people often swallow crazy explanations? Those are just some of the questions we’re asking in this week’s episode about the nature of explanation.
What is it
In both everyday life and science, we often feel the pull of simpler, more elegant, or more beautiful explanations. For example, you notice the street is wet and infer the best explanation is that it rained earlier. But are we justified in assuming these tidy explanations are most likely to be true? What makes an explanation “simple” or “elegant” in the first place? And can the “loveliness” of an explanation ever be a good guide to its “likeliness”? Josh and Ken try to explain things with Princeton University psychologist Tania Lombrozo, co-editor of Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy.