Murphy’s Laws

Murphy's Laws

This is a collection of laws, guidelines, and other life-experienced observations. Imagine them in cardboard frames near a cash register in a restaurant.

Agnes Allen’s Law: Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Army Laws: If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, pick it up. If you can’t pick it up, paint it.

Barth’s Distinction: There are two types of people: those who divide people into two types, and those who don’t.

Bartz’s Law of Hokey Horsepuckery: The more ridiculous a belief system, the higher the probability of its success.

Baruch’s Rule for Determining Old Age: Old age is always fifteen years older than I am.

Basic Law of Construction: Cut it large and kick it into place.

Becker’s Law: It is much harder to find a job than to keep one.

Benchley’s Law: Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.

Berra’s Law: You can observe a lot just by watching.

Bicycle Law: All bicycles weigh 50 pounds: A 30-pound bicycle needs a 20-pound lock and chain. A 40-pound bicycle needs a 10-pound lock and chain. A 50-pound bicycle needs no lock or chain.

Boling’s Postulate: If you’re feeling good, don´t worry. You’ll get over it.

Bombeck’s Rule of Medicine: Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

Boren’s Laws of the Bureaucracy: 1. When in doubt, mumble. 2. When in trouble, delegate. 3. When in charge, ponder.

Borstelmann’s Rule: If everything seems to be coming your way, you’re probably in the wrong lane.

Bralek’s Rule for Success: Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you do when things go wrong.

Brien’s First Law: At some time in the life cycle of virtually every organization, its ability to succeed in spite of itself runs out.

Cannon’s Comment: If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the next morning you will have a flat tire.

Captain Penny’s Law: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool MOM.

Cardinal Conundrum: An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist fears this is true.

Character and Appearance Law: People don´t change; they only become more so.

Clarke´s Law of Revolutionary Ideas: Every revolutionary idea — in Science, Politics, Art or Whatever — evokes three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the three phrases: 1. “It is completely impossible — don´t waste my time.” 2. “It is possible, but it is not worth doing.” 3. “I said it was a good idea all along.”

Clarke´s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Cleveland’s Highway Law: Highways in the worst need of repair naturally have low traffic counts, which results in low priority for repair work.

Clyde´s Law: If you have something to do, and you put it off long enough, chances are someone else will do it for you.

Cohen’s Law of Wisdom: Wisdom is considered a sign of weakness by the powerful because a wise man can lead without power but only a powerful man can lead without wisdom.

Cole´s Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

Cole´s Law: Thinly sliced cabbage.

Colvard´s Logical Premise: All probabilities are 50%. Either a thing will happen, or it won´t.

Commoner´s Three Laws of Ecology: 1. No action is without side-effects. 2. Nothing ever goes away. 3. There is no free lunch.

Cooper’s Law: All machines are amplifiers.

Dieter´s Law: The food that tastes the best has the highest number of calories.

Displaced Hassle Principle: To beat the bureaucracy, make your problem their problem.

Ducharm´s Axiom: If you view your problem closely enough, you will recognize yourself as part of the problem.

Dykstra´s Law: Everybody is somebody else´s weirdo.

Edelstein´s Advice: Don´t worry over what other people are thinking about you. They´re too busy worrying over what you are thinking about them.

Ehrlich´s Rule: The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.

Ettorre´s Observation: The other line moves faster. Corollary: Don´t try to change lines. The other line — the one you were in originally — will then move faster.

Farber’s Third Law: We’re all going down the same road in different directions

Finagle´s Laws of Information: 1. The information you have is not what you want. 2. The information you want is not what you need. 3. The information you need is not what you can obtain. 4. The information you can obtain costs more than you want to pay.

Finnigan´s Law: The farther away the future is, the better it looks.

First Law of Expert Advice: Don´t ask the barber whether you need a haircut.

First Law of Laboratory Work: Hot glass looks exactly the same as cold glass.

First Rule of Superior Inferiority: Don´t let your superiors know you´re better than they are.

Frisch´s Law: You cannot have a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.

Fudd´s First Law of Opposition: If you push something hard enough, it will fall over. Tesler´s Deviant to Fudd´s Law: It goes in — it must come out.

Gerrold´s Law: A little ignorance can go a long way.

Gerrold´s Laws of Infernal Dynamics: 1. An object in motion will always be headed in the wrong direction. 2. An object at rest will always be in the wrong place. 3. The energy required to change either one of the states will always be more than you wish to expend, but never so much as to make the task totally impossible.

Gibb´s Law: Infinity is one lawyer waiting for another.

Ginsberg´s Theorem (Generalized Laws of Thermodynamics): 1. You can´t win. 2. You can´t break even. 3. You can´t even quit the game. Ehrman´s Commentary on Ginsberg´s Theorem: 1. Things will get worse before they get better. 2. Who said things would get better? Freeman´s Commentary on Ginsberg´s Theorem: Every major philosophy that attempts to make life seem meaningful is based on the negation of one part of Ginsberg´s Theorem. To wit: 1. Capitalism is based on the assumption that you can win. 2. Socialism is based on the assumption that you can break even. 3. Mysticism is based on the assumption that you can quit the game.

Glaser´s Law: If it says “one size fits all,” it doesn´t fit anyone.

Glyme´s Formula for Success: The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you´ve got it made.

Green´s Law of Debate: Anything is possible if you don´t know what you are talking about.

Haldane´s Law: The Universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we CAN imagine.

Harris´ Lament: All the good ones are taken.

Hart´s Law: In a country as big as the United States, you can find fifty examples of anything.

Hellrung´s Law: If you wait, it will go away. Shevelson´s Extension: … having done its damage. Grelb´s Addition: … if it was bad, it will be back.

Herblock’s Law: If it´s good, they´ll stop making it.

Hlade´s Law: If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man — he will find an easier way to do it.

Hoare’s Law of Large Programs: Inside every large program is a small program struggling to get out.

Hoffer´s Law: When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

Horngren´s Observation: The real world is a special case.

Howe´s Law: Every man has a scheme that will not work.

Imbesi´s Law of the Conservation of Filth: In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty. Freeman´s Extension: …but you can get everything dirty without anything becoming clean.

Jaffe´s Precept: There are some things that are impossible to know — but it is impossible to know these things.

Jake´s Law: Anything hit with a big enough hammer will fall apart.

John´s Collateral Corollary: In order to get a loan, you must first prove you don´t need it.

Kafka´s Law: In the fight between you and the world, back the world.

Kaplan´s Law of the Instrument: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.

Kierkegaard´s Observation: Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.

Kitman´s Law: On the TV screen, pure drivel tends to drive off ordinary drivel.

Korman´s Conclusion: The trouble with resisting temptation is it may never come your way again.

Langsam´s Law: 1. Everything depends. 2. Nothing is always. 3. Everything is sometimes.

Last Law of Robotics: The only real errors are human errors.

Law of Arbitrary Distinction: Anything may be divided into as many parts as you please. Corollary: Everything may be divided into as many parts as you please. Commentary on the Corollary: In this case, “everything” may be viewed as a subset of “anything.”

Lawyer´s Rule: When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, call the other lawyer names.

Leahy´s Law: If a thing is done wrong often enough, it becomes right.

Lowrey´s Law: If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

Lyall´s Conjecture: If a computer cable has one end, then it has another.

McGovern´s Law: The longer the title, the less important the job.

McGowan´s Madison Avenue Axiom: If an item is advertised as “under $50,” you can bet it´s not $19.95.

Merkin´s Maxim: When in doubt, predict that the present trend will continue.

Mickelson´s Law of Falling Objects: Any object that is accidentally dropped will hide under a larger object.

Miller´s Law: You can´t tell how deep a puddle is until you step into it.

Morley´s Conclusion: No man is lonely while eating spaghetti.

Mr. Cooper´s Law: If you do not understand a particular word in a piece of technical writing, ignore it. The piece will make perfect sense without it.

Murphy´s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will. Extended Murphy´s Law: If a series of events can go wrong, it will do so in the worst possible sequence. Farnsdick´s Corollary to the Fifth Corollary: After things have gone from bad to worse, the cycle will repeat itself. O´Toole´s Commentary on Murphy´s Law: Murphy was an optimist.

Nyquist´s Theory of Equilibrium: Equality is not when a female Einstein gets promoted to assistant professor; equality is when a female schlemiel moves ahead as fast as a male schlemiel.

Osborn´s Law: Variables won´t; constants aren´t.

Panic Instruction: When you don´t know what to do, walk fast and look worried.

Pareto´s Law (The 20/80 Law): 20% of the customers account for 80% of the turnover, 20% of the components account for 80% of the cost, and so forth.

Paul´s Law: You can´t fall off the floor. Chapman´s Commentary on Paul´s Law: It takes children three years to learn Paul´s Law.

Peter´s Law of Evolution: Competence always contains the seed of incompetence.

Peter´s Law of Substitution: Look after the molehills, and the mountains will look after themselves.

Peter´s Observation: Super-competence is more objectionable than incompetence.

Peter´s Theorem: Incompetence plus incompetence equals incompetence.

Phases of a Project
: 1. Exultation. 2. Disenchantment. 3. Confusion. 4. Search for the Guilty. 5. Punishment of the Innocent. 6. Distinction for the Uninvolved.

Pierson´s Law: If you´re coasting, you´re going downhill.

Pinto´s Law: Do someone a favor, and it becomes your job.

Pollyanna Paradox: Every day, in every way, things get better and better; then worse again in the evening.

Pournelle´s Law of Costs and Schedules: Everything costs more and takes longer.

Probable Dispersal Law: Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed. (also known as the How Come It All Landed On Me Law)

Pudder´s Law: Anything that begins well ends badly. Anything that begins badly ends worse.

Putt´s Law: Technology is dominated by two types of people — those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.

Ralph´s Observation: It is a mistake to allow any mechanical object to realize that you are in a hurry.

Randolph´s Cardinal Principle of Statecraft: Never needlessly disturb a thing at rest.

Rap´s Law of Inanimate Reproduction: If you take something apart and put it back together enough times, eventually you will have two of them.

Rather´s Rule: In dealing with the press, do yourself a favor. Stick with one of three responses: (a) I know, and I can tell you, (b) I know, and I can´t tell you, or (c) I don´t know.

Revelation Law: The hidden flaw never remains hidden.

Roger´s Law: As soon as the flight attendant serves the coffee, the airliner encounters turbulence. Davis´ Explanation of Roger´s Law: Serving coffee on aircraft causes turbulence.

Runamok´s Law: There are four kinds of people: those who sit quietly and do nothing, those who talk about sitting quietly and doing nothing, those who do things, and those who talk about doing things.

Sattinger´s Law: It works better if you plug it in.

Schmidt´s Law: If you mess with something long enough, it´ll break.

Schopenhauer´s Law of Entropy: If you put a spoonful of wine in a barrel full of sewage, you get sewage. If you put a spoonful of sewage in a barrel full of wine, you get sewage.

Schroeder´s Law: Indecision is the basis for flexibility.

Segal´s Law: A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.

Serendipity Laws: 1. In order to discover anything you must be looking for something. 2. If you wish to make an improved product, you must already be engaged in making an inferior one.

Sevareid´s Law: The chief cause of problems is solutions.

Shaw´s Principle: Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.

Shirley´s Law: Most people deserve each other.

Snider´s Law: Nothing can be done in one trip.

Sprinkle´s Law: Things always fall at right angles.

Stewart´s Law of Retroaction: It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Sturgeon´s Law: Ninety percent of EVERYTHING is crud.

Taxi Principle: Find out the cost before you get in.

Thoreau´s Law: If you see a man approaching with the obvious intent of doing you good, run for your life.

Thoreau´s Rule: Any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.

Tipper´s Law: Those who expect the biggest tips provide the worst service.

Twain´s Rule: Only kings, editors, and people with tapeworm have the right to use the editorial “we.”

Tussman´s Law: Nothing is as inevitable as a mistake whose time has come.

Ultimate Law: All general statements are false.

Unapplicable Law: Washing your car to make it rain doesn´t work.

Unnamed Law: If it happens, it must be possible.

Unspeakable Law: As soon as you mention something, if it´s good, it goes away; if it´s bad, it happens.

Van Pelt´s Observation: There must be one day above all others in each life that is the happiest. Corollary: What if you´ve already had it?

Van Roy´s Law: An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.

Waldo´s Observation: One man´s red tape is another man´s system.

Walinsky´s First Law of Political Campaigns: If there are twelve clowns in a ring, you can jump in the middle and start reciting Shakespeare, but to the audience, you´ll just be the thirteenth clown.

Wallace Wood´s Rules of Drawing: 1. Never draw what you can copy. 2. Never copy what you can trace. 3. Never trace what you can cut out and paste.

Weber´s Definition: An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.

Weiler´s Law: Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.

White´s Statement: Don´t lose heart . . . Owen´s Comment on White´s Statement: . . . they might want to cut it out . . . Byrd´s Addition to Owen´s Comment on White´s Statement: . . . and they want to avoid a lengthy search.

Wing-Walking Law: Never leave hold of what you’ve got until you’ve got hold of something else.

Woodward´s Law: A theory is better than an explanation.

Wyszkowski’s Second Law: Anything can be made to work if you fiddle with it long enough.

Young´s Handy Guide to the Modern Sciences: If it is green or it wiggles — it is Biology. If it stinks — it is Chemistry. If it doesn´t work — it is Physics. Cerf´s Extensions to Young´s Handy Guide to Modern Science: If it´s incomprehensible, it´s mathematics. If it doesn´t make sense, it´s either economics or psychology.

Young´s Law: All great discoveries are made by mistake. Corollary: The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.

Zimmerman´s Law of Complaints: Nobody notices when things go right.

Zymurgy´s First Law of Evolving System Dynamics: Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

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