Hamster’s Razor

A razor is a philosophical tool for saving time and thought by “shaving away” unlikely explanations for phenomena. Frequently cited in scientific discussions, Occam’s Razor implores us to assume simplicity over complexity, to defer to a hypothesis based on what we already know and that introduces few new assumptions. Hanlon’s Razor, probably the most useful razor in today’s bureaucratic world, is “never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

With this backdrop, I present Hamster’s Razor:

Never ascribe to rational sense what can be explained by naked self-interest.

A more blunt way of putting it would be “if someone’s actions are consistent with pure selfishness, don’t believe a word of what comes out of their mouth.”

The Roissy-coined rationalization hamster is strong in some, spinning hard and spitting out excuses galore to make the selfish and base motives for one’s actions “make sense” in the modern structured world. Thus the razor helps us detect when the hamster is operating. In case you were wondering, badgers are good at hunting rodents.

Hamster’s Razor is in full effect in Dalrock’s exposition of women entering and then ditching their loveless marriages:

“I think it’s unfair for me to stay married to him when I don’t completely love him because he would make an awesome husband for some lucky gal. ”

“I wanted so badly for him to be that romantic hero of the Harlequin novels who loved and respected his woman so much he would never have sex with her before marriage. I wanted him to stop himself, but of course, he didn’t. So I did the only thing I could think of to clean up my own mess and that was to marry him. Even as I prepared for marriage, I knew I didn’t really love him, but I ignored it and made myself go through with it.”

“They became “friends with benefits”, and she got pregnant.  All of a sudden it struck this woman that wait, I’m a devout Catholic! So of course she had to marry him, even though she didn’t love him.  Then a few years later, she divorced him and took their young son because she didn’t love him any more.

It is also a frequent undercurrent to discussions at Hooking Up Smart regarding sexually-experienced women falsifying their numbers to avoid setting off men’s slut meters. (Susan Walsh specifically cites double digits as a line of demarcation women are loath to admit to men, in the same way that a speeder will fib and tell the officer they were only going a few miles per hour over the limit instead of the true ten or fifteen.)

It can also be seen in unfaithful or poly-curious men arguing to their wives that humans were not designed to be monogamous; this may be biologically true, but it is irrelevant to one’s vows of fidelity whose very purpose is to prevent sexual anarchy.


In The Big Chill, arrogant-geek character actor Jeff Goldblum waxes on the moral impacts of rationalization (be sure to listen all the way to the end):

You ever gone a week without one?


It’s high time we started utilizing Hamster’s Razor and stopped tolerating rationalization. Since “I think that’s the hamster talking” will get you committed unless you’re addressing a mansophere reader, you may want to go with the longer but more clear “you’re just being self-centered and trying to rationalize it” (maybe with a good “come on” or “GMAFB” thrown in there for effect).

Since we only get the world we’re willing to ask for, it’s imperative we stand up for some standards of behavior.


Filed under living a good life, original research

12 responses to “Hamster’s Razor

  1. Rebekah

    I could not agree more, and I will leave it at that!!

  2. Hanlon’s Razor cracked me up. I supervise such people…

  3. Badger, I agree completely. We’re not doing anyone a favor by tolerating, or even buying into, rationalizations. I give you bonus points for making this issue relevant to both genders, even though we really know where the hamster lives.

  4. I don’t know Susan, men do it too.

    “If it wasn’t me she was going to fuck it was going to be someone else. She’s the one that decided to cheat on her husband. If the husband was doing his job at home she would never have a need to cheat on him. The last four months of text messages I sent her had zero influence on the situation.”

  5. jz

    I give you bonus points for making this issue relevant to both genders, even though we really know where the hamster lives.

    Really Susan? You believe women rationalize more than men?
    If you have some special relevant data here, please share. The Man-o-shpere that you read is ripe with male rationalization.

    specific examples:
    –Roissy wrote his “21 vrs. 32” essay. He had sex with two women in a two hour interim. He had difficulty to maintain an erection with second. Did he attribute it to his middle-aged soft erection with slower refractory period? NO. he struggled because………………………she was too old.
    Reality: a 22 year old man would have had no difficulty with two, and then taken on a 3rd, and a 4th partner.

    Athol kay once wrote an essay on male midlife crisis . Is this due to the normal loss of youthful vigor? No , he attributes this to …………………………………..their aging wives.
    (Athol, please link to this)

    Roissy and other authors have forgotten the names of their targets. Is this attributed to middle-aged diminished memory capacity? NO. it happens because…………….she was too plain in appearance.

    to clarify. Rationalization and other defense mechanisms are thought by Freudian psychologists to wonderfully protect ourselves from ego-demolition , in the short-term.

    From Wikipedia:
    In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms are unconscious[1] psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image. Healthy persons normally use different defenses throughout life. An ego defense mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior such that the physical and/or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defense mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.

    So all healthy people use rationalization. Long-term it can become maladaptive.

  6. I think Susan and Athol are both right, but it’s a question of demand for rationalization which is undoubtedly skewed towards women.

    Men who have male role models grow up being taught that competing for one’s self-interest is a healthy part of maleness. Careers, team sports, the “bro code,” all operate with the subtext that winning is the goal. “May the best man win.” Men admire and respect other men who compete, which is why we often see men become friends after resolving heated conflicts with each other. Men will shit-test other men in the locker room, the office, etc to see how much they’ll fight back for themselves.

    Women, meanwhile, are given so many mixed messages, and so many messages that contradict their biological impulses, that rationalization becomes a daily exercise to bridge the gap between what they feel they want and what they are told they should want.

  7. Lavazza

    Men’s self interest is more often assumed, so they have less reason to hide it. A woman not hiding her self interest is handicapping herself for no practical reason.

    But of course there are situations where men have to hide their self interest to have any chance of getting it fulfilled.

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  9. Anon-E-mous

    Rationalizations are lies we tell to the world (bad) and to ourselves (worse). If a rationalization is used as a very short-term (fungible) soon-to-be-discarded bandage to help us overcome a mental wound (such a missed job opportunity or a failed relationship) and helps us step toward realizing the truth of the situation, then maybe that lie isn’t a completely horrible thing. Maybe.
    The problem is many people invest in the lie (rationalization) and shape themselves and their perceptions of reality around it. That’s when rationalizations (lies) become incredibly harmful to the individual, and with those with whom they interact.
    Note: The old saw “perception is reality” is bullsh*t — “Perception is how we interface with reality” is closer to the truth. I believe those who truly ascribe to the first version are trending towards the sociopathic.

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