What is Occam’s Beard?

The Symposium of Occam’s Beard is a celebration of creativity in science, though not necessarily in the way you would expect…

At this symposium, scientists from varying backgrounds present theories that are solidly scientific, except for one thing: they are nowhere near the ‘simplest explanation’ for the observations and data that they have.

Occam’s Beard at Discovery Festival 2015!
The 10th Anniversary edition of the Discovery Festival will host a symposium of Occam’s Beard, with another fabulous line-up of speakers. The festival will be held at NEMO Amsterdam (Netherlands) on Friday September 25th, from 9pm-4am. Get your tickets here!

Previous and future events
Two symposia have been held to date: one at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, near Lisbon (Portugal), and one as part of the Discovery Festival 2014 in Amsterdam (Netherlands).

We are always on the lookout for new event possibilities, so if you are interested in having an Occam’s Beard symposium as part of your (science) event, do get in touch!

Why are we doing this?
Two reasons, mainly:

Firstly, bad science is everywhere these days — and that, quite frankly, is frustrating. We hope this event reminds us of the power of hypotheses, independent of whether they are good or bad. It seems there is always data, even to back up the craziest hypothesis. We want to combat this trend by seeing how far we can push it.

Secondly, we were inspired by the Festival of Bad Ad hoc Hypotheses (BAHfest), the brainchild of Zach Weinersmith and Christina Xu. The results of this event were hilarious and thought-provoking: it appeared very easy for scientists to show how crying babies provided an evolutionary advantage to their fighting parents, and how their sad, sad lives provided an evolutionary pressure on fish to remain dumb. Indeed, the worst hypotheses could be defended; not by bad data, but by bad interpretations.

In short…
Occam’s Beard is the setup for terribly nerdy science humor, but it mostly aims to show what happens if you leave your critical thinking skills at home. And how much truth there is in the well-known adage: “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics”.