Talk:Grey's Law

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Is this seriously proposed as a law? It looks like a take-off of Arthur C Clarke's saying about technology and magic. having said that, It's teh funny though. Totnesmartin 15:17, 14 September 2008 (EDT)

It's not "proposed", it is. As I recall, it's been around a while. It just doesn't receive the same exposure as, say, Godwin's Law. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 15:42, 14 September 2008 (EDT)
According to the wonderful world of wikipedia, it's Clark's Law It haz sauce too. Scarlet A.pngpostate 12:11, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm writing this not to "claim authorship" of what is, as Totnesmartin pointed out 8 years ago, a trivial and (for me, at the time) off-hand recombination of Clarke's third law with Hanlon's razor in a type of rhetorical mash-up of which I'm particularly fond. Rather I'm writing to shed potential light on the source of the widespread attribution to some unknown "Grey" for which it appears no explanation can be found. Whether this is in fact the actual origin I am unable to say, but it is a potential one. Since 1976 I've been an avid writer in pre-internet online forums (not, however, a usenet participant) and since about 1996 in a variety of web forums, some of them members-only and now defunct. The pseudonym I've used most often on the web is Alden and in some contexts AldenG, both of which I've usually clarified if necessary as "Alden Grey" (lame pun) or rarely "Alden Geller." None of these is my actual name, of course. I have a distinct memory that some point in the very late 90's or early 00's was the first time (for me) that I posited the maxim "any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice," with explicit crediting of Clarke and Hanlon. I recall once or possibly a couple of times suggesting completely in jest that this should henceforth be called Grey's Law. Or was it Grey's Corollary, now I'm uncertain. I suggested the attribution only on one or maybe two occasions, and I was poking fun at the idea of taking "credit" for such quips. I certainly had no intent of self-aggrandizement and I never imagined that the name might stick. I assumed that readers would "get the joke" with putting my name on it, particularly as most would understand that it wasn't even my actual name. Nor did I intend to claim that I was really the first to think of it, as that seems improbable on its face. It's too obvious an invention and must have been independently invented many times over. But for me at the time, it was an "original" quip and not a repetition -- or as "original" as such a minor tweak can be. Nor do I know that the name DID stick from those early suggestions of mine; it may well have come from elsewhere, especially as Google can no longer find the posts. Some time after that, maybe around 2005-2008, I became aware of JP Clark's formulation "any sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from malice" originating on usenet. While I'm not as fond of that version and it didn't influence me, it does in retrospect appear to predate (1990's Usenet?) my own coining with "incompetence." By time of a post I made in 2009 (found last week), it was embarrassing to me to cite the "incompetence" version as my own invention and so I cited Clark's "cluelessness" version in a discussion at the time. I should have included his name but as of that writing, I couldn't find it quickly. I only noticed last week that "Grey's Law" is and for several years now has been "a thing." I'd love to find earlier evidence for this or any other origin of the "Grey" attribution but haven't been able to do so. Make of it what you will. (talk) 18:47, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Just to clarify a bit, my essential point is that it's possible that at some point 2000-2008, Google or another search engine may have returned references to the post(s) to which I refer, and someone looking for the origin of the maxim may have made the "Grey" attribution on that basis, after which it all went circular. (talk) 19:20, 4 April 2016 (UTC)


Let's just get rid of this. There's no indication of where this law originates, or who or what the Grey is that gives it its name. The phrase doesn't seem to exist beyond RationalWiki, Urban Dictionary, and the comments section on a Daily Kos blog. The "real world example" is a shitty hypothetical one, not a real incident. And any salient points on this subjects are already better covered in our Hanlon's Razor article. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 03:51, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

Alrighty Tyshenanigans 03:54, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
Delete. Sam Tally-ho! 04:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)