Bryan Caplan  

Ponnuru's Corollary to Hanlon's Razor

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Means-Testing Social Security:... An Educational Challenge...
"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity" is technically known as Hanlon's Razor.  Ramesh Ponnuru's proposes a novel corollary:
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. This sound aphorism may have a less pithy political corollary: Never attribute to strategy what can be explained by emotion.
I suspect economists and evolutionary psychologists will demur, but this rings true.  Our modern environment is so unlike our adaptive environment that acting on impulse is usually folly.


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COMMENTS (2 to date)

Be suspicious of any attribution (to malice, stupidity, emotion, impulse, or folly) that which can be explained as an attempt by a living thing to feed itself from a resource pattern. This follows from the Resource Patterns Model of Life.

It gets blame-ey and name-call-ey. We should expect this. After all, we living things (or any recognizable group of us) present a resource pattern to other living things (or an organization of us).

Steve Bacharach writes:

I love that there is a name for this sort of misattribution. I've noticed for several years how often my colleagues will think their superiors have acted out of malice rather than ignorance, but that's clearly not confined to my little world.

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