January 6, 2011

Charles's Razor

It would be my great joy to leave the world an eponymous adage. I think I have a candidate.

Today another friar and I were discussing how a community could be misinterpreted upon visiting. For example, if a friary seems too cold, one might guess that the brethren there were embracing the celebrated austerity of the first friars of our reform. It's more likely, though, that someone isn't paying attention to the thermostat, or that the boiler has been allowed to run out of oil, etc. For another example, if you find that there isn't much to eat in the house, you might be tempted to guess that the brethren there were fasting. It's more likely, though, that someone has not looked after the grocery shopping.

Therefore, I propose for review and criticism the following rule, which I tentatively call Charles's Razor:

Among religious, do not attribute to piety that which is adequately accounted for by negligence.


Christopher said...


fjm said...

A corollary, perhaps: Do not attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.

Brother Charles said...

That is the rule I know as "Hanlon's Razor."