Murphy's laws have several purposes. One is to lampoon pessimists. For Christians in particular, there is no reason ever to be pessimistic. A second is to lampoon impractical optimists. Some people are incapable of seeing problems, so they can never solve them. (The optimist says the glass is half full, and the incredible optimist says: "Wow, this glass is one thirty-second full."] A third is to teach reality to engineers. Alfer all, the first thing any engineer needs to learn is that Murphy's laws are are not jokes but special cases of the second law of thermodynamics. They must plan for what to do when everything does go wrong.
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Murphy's General Laws
- Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
- Anything that cannot go wrong will anyway.
- If only two things can happen and one might lead to catastrophe, it does.
- Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
- After things have gone from bad to worse, the cycle repeats itself.
- Everything is harder than it looks.
- Everything takes longer than you think.
- Everything costs more than the estimates.
- Nothing is according to specs.
- If several things can go wrong, they will.
- After the first thing goes wrong, anything done to improve the situation only makes it worse.
- If everything seems to be going well, you've overlooked something.
- It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are too ingenious.
- When you set out to do something, something else must always be done first.
- Every solution breeds new problems.
- Logic is a systematic method of confidently coming to the wrong conclusion.
- After all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.
Murphy's Laws Quantified
- When several things go wrong, the one that will go wrong first will be the one that will cause the most damage.
- The damage caused is directly proportional to the cost of fixing it.
- If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will.
- If you determine there are n possible ways something can go wrong, and prevent them all, an n + 1st way will go wrong, then cause all other n ways to go wrong iteratively.
- You never exhaust the things that can go wrong.
- Nothing improves with age.
- An expert is one who learns more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
- The degree of failure is in direct proportion to the effort expended and to the need for success.
- Opportunity only knocks at the least opportune moment.
- You get the most of what you need the least.
- Things get worse under pressure.
- Things get worse.
- Sooner or later, the worst possible set of circumstances is bound to occur.
- If a document has n chapters, and you pick one at random, it will prove necessary to understand all other n-1 chapters first.
- If on an actuarial basis there is a 50-50 chance that something will go wrong, it will actually go wrong nine times out of ten.
- Any improbable event which would create maximum confusion if it did occur, will occur.
- The number of people watching you is directly proportional to the stupidity of your action.
- Whenever one word or letter can change the entire meaning of a sentence, the probability of an error being made will be in direct proportion to the embarrassment it will cause.
- Once you're over the hill, you pick up speed.
- Those who have the shortest distance to travel invariably arrive latest.
- The longer ahead you plan a special event, and the more special it is, the more likely it is to go wrong.
- When the plane you are on is late, the one you want to transfer to was on time.
- The legibility of a copy is inversely proportional to its importance.
- When a peanut butter and jelly sandwich falls on the carpet, the probability it will fall face down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
Murphy's Specialized Laws
- Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he'll have to touch to be sure.
- Failures will not appear until an item has passed final inspection.
- The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the solvency of the firm.
- To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.
- If you have to ask, you're not entitled to know.
- If you don't like the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question.
- Memos are written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.
- Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- If at first you don't succeed, you will never succeed.
- Most general statements are false, including this one.
- If you're feeling good, don't worry. You'll get over it.
- Everything is always in the last place you look.
- Clearly stated instructions will consistently produce multiple interpretations.
- The leaks in the roof are never in the same location as the drip.
- Any bus that can be the wrong bus will be the wrong bus. All others are out of service or full.
- Good parking places are always on the other side of the street.
- Pure drivel drives out ordinary drivel.
- All warranty and guarantee clauses are voided by payment of the invoice.
- No child throws up in the bathroom.
- Doctors, dentists, and lawyers are only on time for appointments when you're not.
- The other line moves faster.
Commentaries on Murphy's Laws
- Murphy was an optimist.
- If it doesn't matter, it matters.
- If it seems too good to be true, it is.
- Nice guys(girls) finish last.
- Everything is uphill and against the wind both ways.
- When things are going well, wait five minutes.
- If you explain so clearly that nobody can misunderstand, they will.
- No matter how long or how many times you explain, no one is listening.
- It's always darkest just before the lights go out.
- Any discovery is more likely to be exploited by the wicked than applied by the virtuous.
- Nature sides with hidden flaws.
- Those who don't study the past will repeat its errors. Those who do study it will find other ways to err.
- If you can keep your head when all about you others are losing theirs, you just don't understand the situation.
- The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist knows it.
- An object or bit of information most needed, will be least available.
- Nobody notices when things go right.
- Once you have exhausted all possibilities and fail, there will be one solution, simple and obvious, highly visible to everyone else.
- No matter what goes wrong, it will probably look right.
- When an error has been detected and corrected, it will be found to have been correct in the first place.
- Washing your car to make it rain doesn't work.
Murphy's Laws of Management
- Management assigns jobs to those least able to do them.
- Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
- The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult to fabricate and impossible to service.
- Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some fool discovers something which either obviates the system or expands it beyond recognition.
- The degree of technical competence is inversely proportional to the level of management.
- Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
- The compromise will always be more expensive than either of the suggestions it's compromising.
- Any simple idea will be worded in the most complicated way.
- Organizations always have too many managers.
Murphy's Military Laws
- Never share a foxhole with someone braver.
- Military intelligence is neither.
- No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.
- The problem with taking the easy way out is that the enemy has already mined it.
- If the advance is going well, you are walking into an ambush.
- The quartermaster has two sizes, too large and too small.
- If you need an officer in a hurry, take a nap.
- Any order that can be misunderstood has been misunderstood.
- The more a recruit knows about a given subject, the better chance he has of being assigned to something else.
- Any military project will take twice as long as planned, cost twice as much, and produce only half of what is wanted.
Murphy's Mathematical Laws
- One plus one hardly ever equals two.
- Rabbits can multiply but students can't.
- All statistics are lies.
- Theorems aren't.
- All proofs have logical flaws.
- All pure mathematics can be applied.
- If you prove a theorem to be true, it's probably false.
- If you prove a theorem to be false, it's surely true.
- The probability that someone else proved your thsesis before you is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend on it and the prestige of the journal you plan to publish in.
- Mathematicians can't count.
- Everything is either false or a tautology.
Murphy's Scientific Laws
- Sufficient research will tend to support your theory.
- Even more research will tend to destroy all theories.
- In any collection of data, the figure most obviously correct, beyond all need of checking, is the mistake.
- Every time you come up with a terrific idea, you find that someone else thought of it first.
- Given any problem containing n equations, there will be n+1 unknowns.
- All great discoveries are made by mistake.
- If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.
- If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
- Everything that goes up must come down.
- Any simple theory will be worded in the most complicated way.
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist believes something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he believes something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The number of different hypotheses erected to explain a given biological phenomenon is inversely proportional to the available knowledge.
- An object in motion is heading in the wrong direction.
- An object at rest is in the wrong place.
- Any experiment is reproducible until another laboratory tries to repeat it.
- If the experiment works, you must be using the wrong equipment.
- If enough data is collected, anything may be proven by statistical methods.
- No experiment is reproducible.
- In any calculation, any error which can creep in will do so.
- Any error in any calculation will be in the direction of most harm.
Murphy's Technology Laws
- All technology is obsolete.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.
- Always draw your curves, then plot your data.
- Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts which are unobtainable and three parts which are still under development.
- A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.
- Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables the organism will do as it damn well pleases.
- Any instrument when dropped will roll into the least accessible corner.
- Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.
- The new system will break down as soon as the old is disconnected and out.
- If it can break, it will, but only after the warranty expires.
- If it's good, they'll stop making it.
- The Path of Progress: A shortcut is the longest distance between two points.
- Any wire cut to length will be too short.
- Tolerances will accumulate unidirectionally toward maximum assembly difficulty.
- If a project requires n components, there will be n-1 units in stock.
- Motors rotate in the wrong direction.
- Failsafe circuits will destroy the circuits they are supposed to protect.
- A transistor protected by a fast-acting fuse will protect the fuse by blowing first.
- A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.
- A purchased component or instrument will meet its specs long enough, and only long enough, to pass incoming inspection.
- After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.
- After an access cover has been secured by 16 hold-down screws, it will be discovered that the gasket has been omitted.
- After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.
- The most difficult light bulb to replace burns out first and most frequently.
- The more innocuous the modification appears to be, the further its influence will extend and the more plans will have to be redrawn.
- The most delicate component will be the one dropped first.
- If you mess with something long enough, it'll break.
- If you need n items of anything, you will have n - 1 in stock.
- Most accidents in well-designed systems involve two or more events of low probability occurring in the worst possible combination.
- A component's degree of reliability is directly proportional to its ease of accessibility (i.e., the harder it is to get to, the more often it breaks down).
- If only one bid can be secured on any project, the price will be unreasonable.
- If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent production units will malfunction.
- Major changes in construction will always be requested after fabrication is nearly completed.
- Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.
- Interchangeable parts aren't.
- Any device requiring service or adjustment will be least accessible.
- When anything is used to its full potential, it will break.
- The most vital dimension on any plan or drawing stands the greatest chance of being omitted.
Murphy's Laws of Computing
- The faster a computer is, the sooner it will crash.
- Any non-trivial program contains at least one bug.
- There's always another bug
- To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
- Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.
- Documentation isn't.
- Werk smarder, note harter and bee kareful knot two make speling mistrakes.
- Any program, however complicated, if looked at long enough, becomes more complicated.
- If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
- If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
- Any program will expand to fill available memory.
- Program complexity grows until it exceeds the capabilities of the programmers who maintain it.
- Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable errors, which by definition are limited.
- In any program, any error which can creep in will eventually do so.
- Constants should be treated as variables.
- If the input editor has been designed to reject all bad input, an ingenious idiot user will discover a method to get bad data past it.
- Any attempt to print Murphy's laws will jam the printer.
- Every employee begins at his or her level of competence.
- In every hierarchy, each person tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.
- Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.
- Employees in a hierarchy do not object to incompetence in their colleagues.
- Incompetence knows no barriers of gender, race, time, or place.
- In a sufficiently mature organization, everyone is incompetent.
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