Occam's Needle [Tattoo]

By Carl Zimmer | December 19, 2008 7:25 am

occam-440.jpgJimmy writes, “This is a picture of my recent ink in commemoration of getting my Ph.D in Molecular Pharmacology. Occam’s Razor in its original Latin text —Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate–roughly translated, plurality should never be posited without necessity. I’ve always subscribed to this fundamental tenet behind the scientific method not only in my passion for science, but also in my beliefs in philosophy and religion.

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Comments (7)

  1. This is one of the coolest tattoos I’ve seen in a while! The script is lovely, and I’d be really interested to find out where this version of the sentence originated.

  2. Thanks for adding the [tattoo] tag to your tattoo posts!

    I don’t know if it was done in response to my prior comment, but I sure appreciate it. Now I can skip those in my feed reader (exception this one of course)!


  3. G. Tingey

    I always thought it read:

    Entia non sunt mutiplcanda praeter necessitatem …


  4. A needless needle. And a self-deconstructing tattoo: “nunquam ponendum est tattoo sine necessitate”.

    On variants and formulations of Occam’s razor, see W.M. Thorburn, “The Myth of Occam’s Razor”, Mind (1918).

  5. Adam McConnell

    “Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate” translates to “Never be without the necessity of a plurality.” Not “plurality should never be posited without necessity” which is “pluralitas numquam ponitur sine necessitate.”

    You got your Latin grammar backwards. :-/


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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