Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

That wonderful quote is from Robert J. Hanlan but I found similar quotes from philosophers dating back to Goethe in 1774. Google is really helpful with these things!


I know I’m not the only person that believes the world is out to get me. It’s completely irrational and quite frankly, it takes away from something I cherish most. 


Give me a little bit of time away from a person and I slowly see my positive perception of that person turn dark. By no means is this an “absolute” statement, but in general it’s something I’m very aware of and working on. 

What I dislike most is the fact that I’m assuming intent. I’m assuming someone is trying to do something hurtful whether to me or someone else. It’s just not the case.

Hanlan is by no means saying the world is free from malicious people or intent, but the vast majority of the time people do not possess the awareness or knowledge to understand the impact of their actions. 

I spent the better half of last week in Park City with my buddy Chris. When I watch him go about life and his relationships, I see him follow “Hanlon’s Razor” religiously. Most importantly, he is doing it naturally. 

When something goes wrong, his mind doesn’t go to malicious intent. Instead, he normally shrugs it off and moves on. Over time, that prevents negativity from building up. 

So, you see, that’s the ticket. It’s the origin of thought. 

If I’m processing things with malicious intent then preceding thoughts would follow. The re-wiring (I’m working on) starts from the beginning, not the middle or the end.  

It’s almost like making decisions by discounting negative emotions. 

I love discounts so maybe instead of just looking for a deal on my next polo, I’ll look for a discount on my negative emotions. 

I’ll leave it at that. I’ll leave you with a poem. 

Discounts for you, discounts for me. 

Discounts until we’re seeing incompetence adequately. 

Until next time,