It was a super early and gloomy autumn morning, and Mother was packing me for the school trip to a day of forest camping. I was still only half awake and had slow reactions, so I naturally dropped a toast with jam on the floor (it slipped from my hand), and guess what happened? It dropped jam-side down. I was 6. The toast looked super tasty, but I did not manage to have even the first bite – feel the pain. So, this is how I learned to always eat with a plate, even toast, and about Murphy’s Law.
Murphy’s Law is an adage that states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” It is often used to express the idea that if something has the potential to go wrong, it eventually will. All my later life and professional experiences only proved the point, and I even extended the initial meaning to if something can go wrong, it will go wrong at the worst moment in time and the worst possible scenario. So, I’m always looking for the worst-case scenarios and ways to mitigate risk when planning work or architectures – it works like a charm if additionally applied on top: Hofstadter’s Law, Law of Complexity and KISS.
Over time, various other humorous “laws” have been attributed to Murphy or inspired by the original Murphy’s Law, and here I collected a list of somehow related adages:
- Sod’s Law: Also known as Finagle’s Law, this is a variation of Murphy’s Law that states, “If anything can go wrong, it will happen at the worst possible time.”
- Law of Ruin: “If you drop a piece of toast, it will land butter-side down.”
- Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
- Hofstadter’s Law: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”
- Law of Complexity: “Complex systems tend to develop problems that can only be fixed by making the system even more complex.”
- Peter Principle: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
- Law of Inverse Proportions: “The probability of something happening is inversely proportional to its desirability.”
- Law of Unintended Consequences: “Actions, particularly those driven by good intentions, often have unintended negative consequences.”
- Law of Selective Gravity: “An object will fall in such a way as to cause the most damage.”
- Muphry’s Law: “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.”
This post aims to remind you to anticipate potential issues and expect the unexpected. Also, it would be interesting to hear your stories on how you first encountered one of these “laws” in real life.