Sutton’s Law

Willie Sutton was a famous bank robber in the 1920’s and 30’s. When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks he replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Now whether you look at that as a simplified version of Occam’s razor, or simply a reminder to not make things more complicated than they are, you might like knowing that Sutton’s law is taught in medical school and elsewhere. It states that one should first consider the obvious and run tests that either confirm or rule it out before proceeding to more complex scenarios. Or, stated another way, “When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.”

In my own life, I learned years ago to never underestimate the ability of my lowest skilled workers to occasionally come up with brilliant ways of simplifying difficult tasks. The key was simply for everyone to be open to inspiration and new ideas… and to not ever make things harder than they needed to be.

One Comment

  1. Sutton’s Law
    This is a good point. This is applicable to a lot of beliefs of Christianity. A lot of circular reasoning is had by people defending their belief in God. If you ask how do you know God is real they might say the Bible says so. If you ask how is the Bible proof God is real they might say because the men who wrote it were inspired by God. This is not proof whatsoever that the concept of God is an objective reality. Never go for a complicated explanation to explain a phenomenon, go for the most obvious first and work your way down in that order.

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