Off-Beat - Week 3

As a child, innocuous events like creaking the door in the middle of the night used to send shivers down my spine. The thought of something malicious lurking was enough to ensure that instead of checking the cause of the creaking door, I would curl up tighter while mumbling, “Hanuman Chalisa.”

Let me add to your amusement. Assuming danger is inherent to our psyche. In the wild, our ancestors stayed safe by assuming a wild creature when they heard a rustling sound. Assigning malice to simple stuff kept them safe. 

Although we have evolved technologically at a breakneck pace, our brains functions in a primitive manner. When bad things happen to us, we instinctively assume bad intent/action on the other side of the veil of opacity. 

Hanlon’s Razor’s model states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity.

In a complex world, this model can often help you avoid paranoia. Instead of generating theories about how someone did something to harm you, you start focusing on what you have in front of you.

Hanlon’s Razor also reminds us that as humans, we all make unintentional errors that can lead to detrimental consequences for someone we might not even know (veil of opacity).  It demands that we ask if there is another reasonable explanation for the events that have occurred. The explanation most likely to be right is the one that contains the least amount of intent.

Most often, no one is sitting somewhere hatching plans to get me. I am insignificant enough to deserve that honor. Hanlon’s Razor helps me make peace with bad stuff happening to me instead of hatching a plan to get the perceived bad actor.