Elegance is a deceiver

Simplicity has an unfair advantage. When we think we are applying Occam's razor and assume that what is simple is more likely to be true, we may need to start thinking the reverse.

When something is simpler, it has higher processing fluency which leads to an illusory truth effect that makes it feel more true despite any actual evidence. It is also easier to recall and easier to repeat leading to an availability cascade where an easy falsehood can spread like wildfire but the awkward truth is left unwanted.

If you are brave enough to confront complexity, then you will likely feel a physical and mental pain. Such pain is widely reported anecdotally but lacks a scientific account. Perhaps it is a drop in brain glucose or tension headaches due to from fatigue, dry eyes and stress. Whatever the cause, it is profound form of aversion therapy to discourage us from being so unconventional again.

What impact might this have? Well a recent book Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray suggests that pursuing beauty and simplicity has hamstrung modern science.

If you care about truth, perhaps simplicity should be seen as a slick salesman that should put you on guard rather than make you more trusting of its truth.