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Some of you may recognize the pre-title clip that I played there. It’s trending on social media at the moment and I love it. But did you know that what the guy is talking about here has a name in the productivity world? It’s called Hanlon’s Razor and it teaches us not to assume the worst intention in the actions of others.

This is a world of ever-increasing outrage driven on by an ever more untrustworthy media and by scurrilous politicians who attempt and very often I’d argue succeed in manipulating us. That’s not me assuming the worst by the way. I’m 51 years old. That statement comes from pattern recognition! The modern media treats outrage as a profitable commodity. We see examples of this play out in the media multiple times a day and people rush to take offense at anything which contradicts their worldview as victim mentality is bred within us for profit. In short, media outlets are becoming increasingly skilled at generating assumptions of malicious intent. It’s all too easy to fall into this way of thinking and as a result of all this manipulation, these days especially, we all have a tendency to assume that when something goes wrong, the fault lies within some great conspiracy against us. The simple fact though, is that the assumptions which we jump to are rarely true.

Understanding Hanlon’s Razor helps us see the world in a more positive light, to stop negative assumptions, and to improve relationships.

Hanlon’s Razor is a mental model, often quoted as

‘Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.’

And it is derived originally from something Napoleon Bonaparte famously declared in 1774:

'Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Goethe wrote similarly in 1774 that:

“Misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.”

Either way, however, it amounts to the same thing, that to assuming the worst intention in the actions of others is far more often the case than assuming incompetence or stupidity.

Douglas Hubbard expanded upon the idea in Why it’s Broken and How to Fix It. He wrote:

I would add a clumsier but more accurate corollary to this: ‘Never attribute to malice or stupidity that which can be explained by moderately rational individuals following incentives in a complex system of interactions.’ People behaving with no central coordination and acting in their own best interest can still create results that appear to some to be clear proof of conspiracy or a plague of ignorance.

Hanlon’s razor is a valuable little tool to keep in your arsenal. It allows you to better develop relationships, become less judgmental, and improve rationality. It allows you to give people the benefit of the doubt and have more empathy and in this way, the value of Hanlon’s razor is increased in relationships and business matters.

I’d warn though in summing up that Hanlon's razor can be overly simplistic, potentially blinding us to genuine malice. While malicious intent is rarer than commonly assumed, it should still be considered, as actions seemingly due to incompetence can actually be consciously or subconsciously malicious.

The mafia serves as an example of disproving Hanlon's razor. Initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory, its existence became evident only when a member contacted law enforcement, revealing the carefully orchestrated malice involved.

To effectively employ Hanlon's razor, incorporate it into your mental framework alongside logical reasoning, personal experience, and empirical evidence. But always remain vigilant of behaviors genuinely intended to cause harm.

Next week's show will be another minisode on an important productivity topic. Tune in then to find out more!

But let me end with the same words which started all this. Take note folks. This little baby might change your outlook, lower your stress and anxiety levels and increase your chances of success. And that of course is what this show is all about.

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next season on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

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