Marco's Blog

Here you can find my thoughts

Hanlon’s Razor

One of my favorite mental models, that changed my personal view of the world is this one.

In this world, full of complex interactions and varying perspectives, it’s easy to misinterpret situations and intentions. Hanlon’s Razor, a principle that promotes a more rational approach to human behavior, offers a valuable tool for navigating misunderstandings and overcoming paranoia.

A bit of history

The exact origin of Hanlon’s Razor is uncertain, but it is widely attributed to Robert J. Hanlon, who submitted the adage to Murphy’s Law Book Two in 1980. The razor states:

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

Robert J. Hanlon

This simple yet profound statement highlights the tendency to jump to conclusions and attribute negative intentions to actions that can be better explained by simple mistakes or misunderstandings.

The significance

Hanlon’s Razor serves as a reminder that not every negative outcome or frustrating experience stems from intentional malice or ill will.

In many cases, human error, miscommunication, or a lack of knowledge can lead to unintended consequences.

By adopting this model as a guiding principle, we can approach situations with a more open mind, seeking clarifications and explanations before assigning blame or assuming malicious intent.

Obviously, this model could be applied in different situations such as

  • Personal relationships
  • In-person interaction (work, gym, on the road!!)
  • Online interaction

Limitations of Hanlon’s Razor

Watch out

While Hanlon’s Razor provides a valuable framework for approaching situations, it’s important to acknowledge its limitations.

There are instances where malicious intent or deliberate wrongdoing is the cause of negative outcomes.

It’s crucial to exercise judgment and consider the context of each situation carefully.



I find that this model really fits the vast majority of our world. People do things lacking in judgment or just with laziness more than with bad intentions.

As mentioned before, be always aware that this model will not cover all the situations in our lives and we must always use our critical thinking.


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