Grey’s Law and Hanlon’s Razor

Grey’s Law and Hanlon’s Razor July 13, 2014

In a recent comment, this reworking of Clarke’s Third Law was drawn to my attention:

It is known as Grey’s Law, and it is the counterpart to what is known as Hanlon’s Razor:

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  • This is excellent and very true! I used reasoning similar to this in my denunciation of Obama’s (and implicitly, Erdogan’s) apparent support (whether a result of malice or incompetence; probably, the former) for the Islamic State.

  • David Evans

    I refer you to the immortal words of Goldfinger:

    “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

  • Unless you can cite a reference to it as “Grey’s Law” that predates November 1994, when it was used on Usenet (with the slight variation of “cluelessness” for “incompetence”) by NASA engineer J. Porter Clark, I believe your attribution is incorrect.

    • TomS

      Thank you.

      The Wikipedia article on “Hanlon’s razor”:

      …often been called Grey’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice”. The origin of this attribution is unknown.[citation needed]

      I’d recommend that someone improve this entry with the information that you have provided.