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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

Evil is Easy


This post is the forty-sixth part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series can be found on the series landing page.

This post is about destruction.

“As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”

Mr. Spock says this to Dr. McCoy in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He’s right. It’s much easier to tear down than to build up. Why? Part of the reason is entropy. The playing field is on a hillside, after all. One problem with destruction is it’s not sustainable. One reason destruction is not sustainable is it’s difficult to contain. Remember this chart from other posts?

Destruction – or evil – can get away from you fast. Before you know it, you’ve done more than you intended… or wanted. You’ve hurt people you never intended to hurt. And while justifications like “collateral damage” may temporarily placate, they end up sounding hollow. Sometimes for years.

Evil is Lazy

It takes very little imagination to react to a wrong, to say “I told you so” to a team member or subordinate, or to feel smug when your competition fails. It’s natural, in fact. As a result, evil is lazy.


Destruction holds back business, community, and progress – usually way more than anyone intends. In the next post, we’ll look at the hard work of creation.


Published Wednesday, August 10, 2011 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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K. Brian Kelley said:

I'm going to disagree with you on evil is lazy if that's your criteria. What is lazier is simply saying, "Whatever," and not caring because that would mean expending some energy is lazy, and lazier than evil. Evil also tends to not be very lazy. Especially when one looks to be destructive. Then evil is usually filled with machinations upon machinations to smear the other person or discredit the project, etc., without blame coming back.

August 10, 2011 9:04 AM

Phil said:

Schadenfreude is not natural, it's selfish. Nature is an organizing principle and works against entropy, but selfishness denies that I am a part of anything larger than myself, and says my good is above any common good I share with anyone else (such as the good of the employer, or the good of the market, or the good of the industry, etc). When others fail, it doesn't add anything to me, except to help reinforce my self as the center of everything.

But don't worry, good can also "get away from you" - the good is diffusive - that's why when you're really happy you can't help but communicate it to others. Or when you see a beautifully written or designed script, it makes you want to go out and create something ... massive, in the words of Clark Griswold.

I better stop here.

August 10, 2011 9:07 AM

Ralph Wilson said:

I think that what Andy meant by "Evil is lazy." is not that Evil doesn't work at being evil but, rather, because it seems to be a natural attitude to take the "I told you so." position or to take pleasure in someone "getting their come-uppence", it takes no effort on the part of an individual to do this.  On the other hand, it _does_ take effort to suppress these urges/feelings nad even _more_ effort to take a _positive_ position or to manifest a _positive_ attitude (e.g. to anticipate the potential failure and to actually step in to assist in preventing it).

August 10, 2011 9:52 AM

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