Hanlon’s Razor

One of my favourite quotes is known as Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.

Like many people, I was unaware of its origin. But today I received an email from Joe Biglen:

I did a search for Hanlon’s Razor on the internet and was surprised that no one seems to know the origin. The author was my late friend Robert J. Hanlon of Scranton, Pa.

A number of years ago, the people that wrote the Murphy’s laws book decided to publish a second book and asked the public to contribute their own ‘laws” as part of a contest. My friend sent this in and it was accepted and printed with his name in the credits. The ‘prize’ for winning was 10 copies of the new book, one of which Bob gave me.

Bob was a very literate man with a wry sense of humor and I believe the razor “Never attribute malice to what can adequately be explained by stupidity” is his. If you would change the wording on your site to reflect this, I would appreciate it. Bob was a great man. He had a keen sense of history, but unfortunately, illness and an untimely death prevented him from being further published. I think it would be fitting and appropriate if he got the recognition he deserved for this.

Joseph E. Bigler

Agreed! Web pages appropriately modified to give credit where it’s due. Many thanks, Joe.

See also the more recent entry.

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up to receive Status-Q in your inbox?

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser