Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hanlon's Razor

I've always heard this saying. I've heard it in various forms, and its been attributed to various people. Wikipedia calls it Hanlon's Razor:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
I was thinking about this saying recently, and it's tougher than it looks at first sight.

After all, if you follow the advice, you assume people are good at heart -- they're not trying to screw you.  And that's a good attitude to have,

But at the same time, isn't it kind of insulting to their abilities? After all, assuming malice assumes a basic level of competence.

And isn't assuming your fellow human beings are at least minimally competent also a good attitude to have?

Tough one.

I have days when my attitude isn't good, and I either assume everyone is malicious and stupid, or else I assume that everyone is good-hearted and capable, and the universe just happens to be out to get me.

Neither of those is true, obviously.

So what do you think?
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