QOTD: Is This Quote Still True?

 

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. — Hanlon’s razor.

In saner times, Hanlon’s razor would be a reliable guide to understanding current events. But today, I’m not so sure. I’m not a conspiracy theorist — yet — but I’m thinking of taking it up.

Look at the accomplishments of the Biden administration, particularly the Afghanistan exit. Stupidity can’t do all that by itself. The stupidity is there, but it’s a malicious stupidity driven by a visceral animosity toward a large portion of the American people. Bungling stupidity would accidentally get something right once in a while. (See Carter, Jimmy.) Malicious stupidity works with a chilling consistency. Every aspect of the Afghanistan withdrawal was handled badly. And that’s not the only thing they’ve screwed up. If the Biden administration intended to damage the country, what would it do differently?

White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki is another counterexample to Hanlon’s razor. She has a difficult job, which is to defend the indefensible by saying the unbelievable. How do you explain Psaki? She isn’t stupid, and an honest person would have quit long ago. Dishonesty is malice.

Another example of malice over stupidity is the Russia collusion hoax. This was a genuine conspiracy. The people involved weren’t stupid, and they intended to do harm. Yes, they may have deluded themselves into thinking it was for a good cause, but a lot of evil is justified the same way. We still don’t know if the perpetrators will pay a price.

There was nothing stupid about the “fortification” of the 2020 general election. The people involved knew exactly what they were doing. They made unconstitutional rule changes in front of everybody, betting correctly on the dishonesty of the press and the cowardice of the courts. The other things they did are well known. Chalk up another one for malice.

Add to this malignant mix all the soft-on-crime public prosecutors, the defund-the-police movement, and the mayors willing to let their cities burn down. We’re still just scratching the surface.

If you took the character of all of the examples listed above and distilled it down to a concentrated toxic substance, you would have the Loudon County School Board. Now, that’s malice.

Let’s pray for the eventual restoration of Hanlon’s razor.

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  1. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Of course it’s still true.  It’s just that these things are not accounted for by stupidity.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    We don’t call them “Conspiracy Theories” anymore. These days, they are referred to as “Spoiler Alerts.”

    • #2
  3. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Arahant (View Comment):

    We don’t call them “Conspiracy Theories” anymore. These days, they are referred to as “Spoiler Alerts.”

    LOL!

    • #3
  4. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    There is a point after which continued incompetence must be viewed as malice.

    • #4
  5. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I’ve always hated Hanson’s Razor because if it is true, it stands in opposition to the meritocracy we claim to have. If only stupid people get raised to the highest offices and positions of the land, then there is no meritocracy. Otherwise, malice explains 90% of it.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Stina (View Comment):

    I’ve always hated Hanson’s Razor because if it is true, it stands in opposition to the meritocracy we claim to have. If only stupid people get raised to the highest offices and positions of the land, then there is no meritocracy. Otherwise, malice explains 90% of it.

    According to the Peter Principle, everyone is promoted to their level of incompetence, so the trick is to catch them before they’ve arrived.

    • #6
  7. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Arahant (View Comment):

    We don’t call them “Conspiracy Theories” anymore. These days, they are referred to as “Spoiler Alerts.”

    I admire your (insufficient) cynicism 😎

    • #7
  8. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    I think most of the Democrat Agenda is malice enabled by stupidity. 

    Malice on the part of the leadership, stupidity on the part of the voters. 

    • #8
  9. KCVolunteer Lincoln
    KCVolunteer
    @KCVolunteer

    BastiatJunior 

    @BastiatJunior 

    The was nothing stupid about the “fortification” of the 2020 General Election.  The people involved knew exactly what they were doing.  They made unconstitutional rule changes in front of everybody, betting correctly on the dishonesty of the press and the cowardice complicity of the courts.  The other things they did are well known.  Chalk up another one for malice.

    FIFY

    • #9
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Flicker (View Comment):

    There is a point after which continued incompetence must be viewed as malice.

    Like you said, evil announces it’s intentions and malice is a part of it. It’s a very dangerous time.

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Joe Biden is the perfect fusion of malice and stupid. He is a malignant buffoon in whom the distinction between dumb and evil is blurred beyond recognition.

    • #11
  12. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Joe Biden is the perfect fusion of malice and stupid. He is a malignant buffoon in whom the distinction between dumb and evil is blurred beyond recognition.

    And he’s just a pass-through anyway.  His inanimate shell holds the door open while the demons roar through.

    • #12
  13. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    Hanlons Razor is basically what distinguishes old Republicans (including Never Trumpers) from the new. The old Republicans believe that Democrats are naive, and they believe they can be reasoned with and even converted. This is why they hate Trump so much: Trump doesn’t try to debate with Democrats. He just attacks them. And he does so in a way that panics old Republicans: his personality is a resurrection of the Archie Bunker stereotype. 

    New Republicans understand that almost everything Dems are doing is an intentional attack intended to demoralize those who stand between them and total power, namely, the white middle class which is the swing vote that determines all major elections. 

    • #13
  14. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    W Bob (View Comment):

    Hanlons Razor is basically what distinguishes old Republicans (including Never Trumpers) from the new. The old Republicans believe that Democrats are naive, and they believe they can be reasoned with and even converted. This is why they hate Trump so much: Trump doesn’t try to debate with Democrats. He just attacks them. And he does so in a way that panics old Republicans: his personality is a resurrection of the Archie Bunker stereotype.

    New Republicans understand that almost everything Dems are doing is an intentional attack intended to demoralize those who stand between them and total power, namely, the white middle class which is the swing vote that determines all major elections.

    Good point.  I’ll add that we all still rely upon Hanlon as required — we just differ as to what the evidence is (clearly!) telling us.

    • #14
  15. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Yes it is malicious when restaurants and grocery stores cannot get meat and fish supplies, costs are up 22% and then you notice on the Build Back Better WEF forum, the food section – pushing plant based, eliminating meat, and Gates investing in plant based meat farms. There’s always a link. Food shortages? They are conditioning us to eat less, buy less, work less, own less…….you get the picture.  Except when it’s time to pay the piper, i.e. tax hikes, you won’t have anything left to pay taxes that they think they are going to get. 

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I can’t figure out if their efforts are malicious, stupid and disastrous, how they think they will continue to get away with it. They must think that they can propagandize us into believing what they say and not our own eyes (like the Afghanistan withdrawal was excellent), or they think we are more stupid than they are. I think they have big surprises coming . . . 

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t figure out if their efforts are malicious, stupid and disastrous, how they think they will continue to get away with it. They must think that they can propagandize us into believing what they say and not our own eyes (like the Afghanistan withdrawal was excellent), or they think we are more stupid than they are. I think they have big surprises coming . . .

    They own the voter rolls.

    • #17
  18. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Percival (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    I’ve always hated Hanson’s Razor because if it is true, it stands in opposition to the meritocracy we claim to have. If only stupid people get raised to the highest offices and positions of the land, then there is no meritocracy. Otherwise, malice explains 90% of it.

    According to the Peter Principle, everyone is promoted to their level of incompetence, so the trick is to catch them before they’ve arrived.

    Yes! Because in a government (especially at the top levels) bureaucracy, they are there for life.

    • #18
  19. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t figure out if their efforts are malicious, stupid and disastrous, how they think they will continue to get away with it. They must think that they can propagandize us into believing what they say and not our own eyes (like the Afghanistan withdrawal was excellent), or they think we are more stupid than they are. I think they have big surprises coming . . .

    For the most part, I think it is motivated by a driving lust for power.

    • #19
  20. Michael Brehm Coolidge
    Michael Brehm
    @MichaelBrehm

    Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    Proviso to Hanlon’s Razor: …but don’t completely rule out malice, either.

    • #20
  21. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Hanlon’s Razor was true for an earlier time when malice was rare. That is no longer the case.

    • #21
  22. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I can’t figure out if their efforts are malicious, stupid and disastrous, how they think they will continue to get away with it. They must think that they can propagandize us into believing what they say and not our own eyes (like the Afghanistan withdrawal was excellent), or they think we are more stupid than they are. I think they have big surprises coming . . .

    They own the voter rolls.

    Fictitious voters are the hardest to persuade.

    • #22
  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Good post.  I suspect that the question in the post title is rhetorical.

    I think that Hanlon’s Razor was never true.  It’s helpful it you take it seriously, but not literally.  For the sake of peace, we can adopt a rebuttable presumption of stupidity, rather than malice, when someone does something that we really don’t like.  It’s a pretty good rule, when a society is functioning decently.

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and
    @Misthiocracy

    I prefer this phrasing of Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    When a pattern of malice presents itself, decisions can no longer be adequately explained by stupidity.

    • #24
  25. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    It seems folks are missing the importance of the adverb “adequately.” The Razor isn’t saying nothing happens due to malice, only that well-meaning incompetence is the more likely explanation when one can’t tell. A lot of the examples given to refute the Razor are of situations so buggered up that incompetence isn’t an adequate explanation. After all, even incompetents will get things right, even if on accident. Broken clocks and all that. 

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and
    @Misthiocracy

    Another point, which may or may not be relevant to the examples provided in the OP, but still:

    1. Governments are well aware of Hanlon’s Razor, and are not above using it to try and get away with malicious acts.
    2. Reporters and opposition parties know that governments are aware of Hanlon’s Razor, therefore it is not in their best interest to abide by Hanlon’s Razor.

    For example, up here in the Great White North there was a story today about how an Access To Information staffer blacked out sections of a decades-old speech that was already in the public domain.  This was probably an innocent mistake by some low-level government employee and reporting on the error could be considered a mean-spirited attack on that employee.  However, if the reporter didn’t report on the error it would send a signal to the government that disguising malice as incompetence could be a potential tactic for covering up future malicious acts, so the reporter pretty much has to report the error.

    Note: The reporter did not name the low-level employee that made the error.

    For the record, here’s the story in question, however it’s behind a paywall: https://www.blacklocks.ca/feds-censor-1959-dief-speech/

    • #26
  27. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    Never underestimate the malicious nature of the stupid.  

    • #27
  28. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    dukenaltum (View Comment):

    Never underestimate the malicious nature of the stupid.

    Good point.  Sometimes, it’s necessary to embrace the power of “and.”

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    • #28
  29. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    BastiatJunior: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. — Hanlon’s razor.

    Hanlon’s Razor is referring to circumstances where the attribution of either malice or stupidity is unclear. It is not applicable when malice is either overtly declared or reasonably implied by actions.

    Thus the malice toward American citizens is on full display when the administration enforces COVID mandates on them, yet does not enforce them on, say, illegal immigrants. 

    Where the political prisoners of the “insurrection” languish in solitary while the looters/destroyers of $Bs from the summer of St Floyd aren’t even charged.

    Americans get left behind in Afghanistan while unvetted Afghanis get a free trip to the USA.

    Citizens are given mask mandates, which our ruling class subsequently ignore. 

    American are going see their bank accounts being spied on, while the connected and the indigent are ignored.

    Note Psaki telling us that the 3T spending plan to build back better will add nothing to the national debt.

    The list goes on and on.

    Nothing but malice.

    • #29
  30. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Percival (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    I’ve always hated Hanson’s Razor because if it is true, it stands in opposition to the meritocracy we claim to have. If only stupid people get raised to the highest offices and positions of the land, then there is no meritocracy. Otherwise, malice explains 90% of it.

    According to the Peter Principle, everyone is promoted to their level of incompetence, so the trick is to catch them before they’ve arrived.

    Has Mayor Pete peaked yet? 

    • #30