Sutton's law


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Related to Sutton's law: Occam's Razor, Willie Sutton Rule

Sutton's law

Decision-making A guideline evoked to temper the enthusiasm of externs–US medical students in their 3rd and 4th yrs of school–and other novices in clinical medicine, who want to 'work up' a condition–eg, an acute abdomen for porphyria, metastatic medulloblastoma or other esoterica, while ignoring a particular symptom's more common causes; the 'law' is attributed to the noted bank robber, Willie Sutton who, when asked why he robbed banks, reportedly replied, '..that's where the money is'; to apply Sutton's law then, is to search for the most likely cause of a symptom–ie, to go where the 'money' is. See Hoofbeats. Cf Red herring, 'Zebras. '.

Sutton's law

(sŭt′ŏnz)
[William "Willie" Sutton, U.S. career criminal and bankrobber, 1901–1980]
A method of diagnostic reasoning that states one should look for diseases where they are most likely to be (such as malaria in tropical areas that harbor Anopheles mosquitoes; atherosclerosis in patients who are smokers, hypertensives, or diabetics). The law is attributed to Willie Sutton, who, when asked why he robbed banks, said, “Because that's where the money is.”
References in periodicals archive ?
Call them Sutton's Laws. They make sense, bewilder Congress, yet give you rock-solid defenses in the courtroom and your own heart.