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{ Category Archives } Maxims

Simon’s Correlary

Recall Heinlein’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. Now, M Simon proposes a correlary: Never attribute to malice alone that which can be attributed to malice and stupidity.

First Law of Change

People are willing to do almost anything to improve a bad situation — except change.

An extension of Heinlein’s Razor

Heinlein’s (sometimes “Hanlon’s”, see Wikipedia) Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. But note that most conspiracists are also stupid.

The Cat Herding Principle

It’s legendary how difficult it can be to herd cats. I have observed, however, that it can be possible to convince a bunch of cats to chase the same mouse. (Update: “Chase”, dammit. How many times did I read that over and not see the typo until now?)

Not So Stupid

If you see something stupid, always ask “Is this really stupid? What would make this the smartest possible choice under the circumstances? How is this the most rewarding option of all?” Many times you’ll find that stupid people are smarter than you think.

Stine’s Law of Testing

The tests are not completed until the prototype is destroyed. — G. Harry Stine


I have often heard it said that any concept, no matter how complicated, can be explained to an interested and motivated 15 year old — if only you understand it yourself. There is a corollary I think people forget, however: if someone attempts to explain something, and doesn’t succeed, there can only be one of […]

Conway’s Law

“Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” — Jargon File In the computer business, this is often stated as “if an organization with four groups designs a compiler, it will be a four-pass compiler.” Here’s an interesting observation: this is a necessary condition. […]

Third Law of Frisbee

One must never precede any maneuver by a comment more predictive than, “Watch this!” — Murphy’s Laws Archive

Little Differences

Over time, little differences make big differences.