Hanlon's Razor


Hanlon's Razor
(HAN.lunz ray.zur)
idiom.
A principle, used most often in computing circles, that says "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
Example Citation:
But faulty forecasts, here in Ireland anyway, are never, ever due to Murphy's Law or human error. Neither does Hanlon's Razor hold the key.
— Brendan McWilliams, "What to blame when things go wrong," The Irish Times, October 4, 2001
Earliest Citation:
Competence. I am reminded of an extension to Murphy's Law, cryptically named Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
— Glenn Harris, "All I want from top management is . . . systems support," Infosystems, December 1984
Notes:
The razor part of Hanlon's Razor is derived from the famous Occam's Razor, which is the principle of reducing assumptions to their absolute minimum (as Albert Einstein once said: "Things should be a simple as possible, but no simpler"). The Hanlon part is more problematic, and no one is sure who this person is. The best guess I've seen is that it's a corruption (through either malice or stupidity, one supposes) of Heinlein, since the noted science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein used the phrase "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity" in his 1941 story Logic of Empire.
Related Words: Category:

New words. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hanlon's razor — is an eponymous adage that reads: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. This particular form is attributed to a Robert J. Hanlon. However, earlier utterances that convey basically the same idea are known.… …   Wikipedia

  • Hanlon's Razor — Hanlon’s Razor (Übersetzung aus dem Englischen: Hanlons Rasiermesser) ist ein satirischer Ausspruch, der eine Aussage über den wahrscheinlichsten Grund von menschlichem Fehlverhalten trifft. Man könnte Hanlon’s Razor auch als geflügeltes Wort… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Hanlon — is a surname, and may refer to* Alfred Hanlon, British born acrobat (see Hanlon Lees) * Alfred Charles Hanlon, New Zealand lawyer * Darren Hanlon, Australian folk musician * George Hanlon, British born acrobat (see Hanlon Lees) * Glen Hanlon,… …   Wikipedia

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  • Occam's razor — For the aerial theatre company, see Ockham s Razor Theatre Company. It is possible to describe the other planets in the solar system as revolving around the Earth, but that explanation is unnecessarily complex compared to the modern consensus… …   Wikipedia

  • Principio de Hanlon — El principio de Hanlon es un adagio que dice: «Nunca le atribuyas a la maldad lo que puede ser explicado por la estupidez». También se conoce como «navaja de Hanlon». No hay referencias de la existencia de Hanlon. Un epigrama similar ha sido… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Richie Hanlon — is a fictional character on the TV show Oz portrayed by Jordan Lage. Character overview Prisoner #98H426. Convicted June 3, 1998 Possession and distribution of a substance. Sentence: Eight years, up for parole in five. Convicted in 1998 of two… …   Wikipedia

  • Hanlons Rasiermesser — Hanlon’s Razor (Übersetzung aus dem Englischen: Hanlons Rasiermesser) ist ein satirischer Ausspruch, der eine Aussage über den wahrscheinlichsten Grund von menschlichem Fehlverhalten trifft. Man könnte Hanlon’s Razor auch als geflügeltes Wort… …   Deutsch Wikipedia