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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Bezmenov's Razor



According to one source, “In philosophy, a razor is a principle or rule of thumb that allows one to eliminate (“shave off”) unlikely explanations for a phenomenon, or avoid unnecessary actions.” This form of critical thinking allows one the ability to properly focus on relevant information related to a question or proposal.


As an example, and named after author Robert J. Hanlon, Hanlon’s razor proposes, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Here, “malice” may be defined as desire or intent to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.


Likewise, “stupidity” can be described as ideas or behavior which shows a lack of proper sense or judgment. Therefore, Hanlon’s razor suggests that one shouldn’t blame the ill-advised intentions of other’s wrongdoing when a lack of rational judgment may be the cause of their action.


I appreciate this perspective when focused through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), because it aligns with the practice of unconditional acceptance. I use this technique in both my personal and professional life.


As an example, instead of irrationally believing that others intend on causing me distress, I can instead acknowledge their human fallibility and accept their undesirable behavior. After all, they may never have intended to cause harm when a likely explanation for their behavior is poor judgment.


Recently, I heard of a relatively new razor attributed to former KGB informant Yuri Bezmenov. Adding a twist to Hanlon’s razor, Bezmenov’s razor asserts, “Always attribute to malice that which has continued too long to be explained by stupidity.”


Perhaps much to the reader’s dismay, I’m taking this post in a sociopolitical direction, as I think of Bezmenov’s razor when considering the upcoming 2024 United States (U.S.) presidential election. The struggle with one’s unconditional acceptance regarding the actions of others may prove challenging in this regard.


In not so distant history, Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump. Thereafter, Clinton apparently spent an exorbitant amount of time claiming that the election was stolen from her.


In fact, a number of mockingbird media outlets echoed Clinton’s and other Democrats’ sentiment. This was ostensibly an acceptable practice, as critical thinking about the 2016 U.S. presidential election continued throughout Trump’s presidency.


However, after Trump lost the 2020 election and questioned the results, a number of mockingbird media sources chastised Trump’s claims. Unlike Clinton’s behavior, Trump’s actions were deemed so unacceptable that the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursued him and in a legal motion stated in part:


The purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the federal government function by which those results are collected, counted, and certified.


Now, as the U.S. inches closer to the 2024 presidential election in which Trump is running, I evoke Bezmenov’s razor. Per my interpretation of behavior cited herein, it’s seemingly acceptable for one side of the political aisle to question elections and unacceptable when the other side also does so.


As well, and after an arduous investigation that essentially resulted in no criminal charges for Trump, somehow there are currently multiple legal cases against him—all while Trump dominates other presidential candidates in the polls. He very well could be the next president of the U.S.


Of this, one source speculates, “The Democrats are using lawfare against Trump because they can’t beat him fairly.” I don’t think this observation is beyond the scope of rationality—the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic.


Moreover, Jack Smith, and individual tasked with overseeing criminal investigations into Trump, has allegedly “requested ‘lists of Twitter users who have favorited or retweeted tweets posted’ by Trump, ‘as well as all tweets that include the username associated with the account (i.e. ‘mentions’ or ‘replies’).”


Not only is Trump under investigation, it would appear as though anyone who supported him is now under crosshairs of the DOJ. The inability to question an election, a weaponized legal system, and list-compiling of one’s sociological opponents appears to have “continued too long to be explained by stupidity,” per Bezmenov’s razor.


I suspect a skeptical reader may suggest, “C’mon, Deric, you’re venturing into the realm of conspiracy theory and disinformation. Things can’t be nearly as significant as you’re implying.”


To that, I offer one Colorado source that on December 11, 2023 stated, “To protect our democracy, Donald Trump must be barred from the Colorado ballot.” The Orwellian term “our democracy” isn’t synonymous with “democracy”—a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.


Case in point, on December 19, 2023, one source reported:


Colorado’s top court ruled on Tuesday that former President Donald J. Trump is disqualified from holding office again because he engaged in insurrection with his actions leading up to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, an explosive ruling that is likely to put the basic contours of the 2024 election in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.


Setting aside the fact that the Jan. 6 event didn’t rise to the level of an insurrection, hindering the ability of people to vote for a U.S. presidential election is the antithesis of democracy. Per Bezmenov’s razor, I attribute such behavior to malice and not stupidity.


While it may be tempting to use an ad hominem attack against me by declaring that I’m little more than a MAGAt propagandist, I affirm that I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 and won’t vote for him in 2024, because I don’t vote at all. As such, I’m unbothered by petty sociopolitical labels.


The reason I think the current topic is worth considering is because I maintain that it’s important to consider reality as it is (descriptive), not as one believes it ought to be (prescriptive). Even when one’s belief about truth is something by which an individual is discomforted, I maintain that it’s worth examining.


Attributing to malice that which has continued too long than to be explained by stupidity is a razor I recognize as worth taking into account. Moreover, as an REBT practitioner who’s unaffiliated with any political party, I can help people with their self-disturbing beliefs about reality.


Therefore, if you are struggling to practice the technique of unconditional acceptance, I may be able to assist you so that you won’t needlessly upset yourself. After all, I suspect that Colorado’s recent decision is merely the beginning of an onslaught of political shenanigans to come, and your mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being may be more important than succumbing to chaos.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW





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