The broom of Ockham

Although it is increasingly difficult to gauge what people can be expected to know, it is probably safe to assume that most readers are familiar with Ockham’s razor – roughly, the principle whereby gratuitous suppositions are shaved from the interpretation of facts – enunciated by a Franciscan monk, William of Ockham, in the fourteenth century. Ockham’s broom is a somewhat more recent conceit, attributable to Sydney Brenner, and embodies the principle whereby inconvenient facts are swept under the carpet in the interests of a clear interpretation of a messy reality. (Or, some – possibly including Sydney Brenner – might say, in order to generate a publishable paper.)

In due course, the edge of the carpet must be lifted and the untidy reality confronted, and in this issue of Journal of Biology we are launching an occasional series of Opinions in which contributors inspect the sweepings and discuss their implications.


Thus begins an editorial of Miranda Robertson in the Journal of Biology
. A nice concept that is worthy of emulation by other journals too!

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