Monday, January 23, 1995

The law of parsimony

> Dr. Schwartz:
>
> This is getting a bit tangled, but let me try anyhow.
>
> You started by presenting three "separate" theories of stuttering and
> went on to state that your model nicely accounts for all of them (the
> ONLY model that does so, you further added in your reply).
>
> I stated that the three "theories" seem quite compatible to me and that
> they already formed what could be viewed as a reasonable "model"(let's
> call it Model-1 for future reference) . I asked therefore what your
> model added to this "simpler" (i.e. more parsimonious) model.
>
> You stated in your response that your model is "extremely parsimonious",
> further more, if there is any complexity I don't understand you'd be
> happy to explain it to me.
>
> OK. now I can clarify my point:
>
> "Parsimony" means to explain all the facts with the least amount
> of assumptions. You make some clear assumptions about the role
> of vocal cords (thank you for your misspelling correction - caught me
> red faced on that one). What additional explanation do these
> assumptions provide, which Model-1 could not explain as well?
>
> There are two good reasons for adding complexity to models: explaining
> more facts and providing for the possibility of testing (which still
> is a form of "more facts"). I still don't see which facts your model
> explains which are nor explained by model-1. With regard to testing,
> I praised your model, in that it opens up the possibility of discussing,
> indeed testing, the role of vocal cords in stuttering. But here again,
> you seem very quick in dismissing evidence that might challenge your
> assumptions. You claim that repetitions in sign language do not obey
> "rules" of stuttering and considering them is "misleading and confusing".
> What rules are you referring to? It would in fact be very interesting
> to see how different this type of stuttering is and whether any
> differences are a rather obvious result of the differences in communication
> channels or hide something deeper. Also, could you provide a couple
> of examples of how, in your thinking, the laryngectomy papers you have
> had the time to survey tend to support your model?
>
> By the way, I do not equate "complex" with "unclear". As a Ph.D. in
> Biophysics and NASA researcher for 15 years in areas from
> closed ecologial life support to artificial neural networks, complex
> models and scientific methodology are my daily bread.
>
> Let's keep trying.

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