10 Murphy's Laws That Explain Unfathomable Truths

What Is Murphy's Law? How Did It Originate?
For those who have been fascinated by the perceived perversity of the universe and its operations, Murphy's Law would be an interesting read. Murphy's Law is a name given to an old adage, which has been here since the dawn of civilisation. The adage pertains to the belief that if there is anything that can go wrong, it will. This law was also known as Sod's Law, because such catastrophes would happen to any poor sod who least expects it.

Various interpretations of this adage were found in documents dating as early 19th century. However, the adage grew in popularity when a certain engineer by the name Edward A. Murphy,who was working in Edwards Air Force Base on a project found a technical error made by one of his junior technicians, and cursed him saying, "If there's any way to do it wrong, he will find it." Dr. John Paul Stapp, the Air Force doctor who was involved with the project, made a quick note of this universality of errors, and fabricated a law, which he wittily titled, "Murphy's Law." Later, in a press conference, when reporters asked him how they had avoided accidents, Stapp mentioned that they adhered to "Murphy's Law" which helped them steer away from commonly made mistakes. Word spread soon about the famous Murphy's Law, and thus the term Murphy's Law was born.

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The Original One

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"If something can go wrong, it will."

This is the original and classic Murphy's Law. This law points to the universal nature of ineptitude that results in bad outcomes. Instead of looking at this adage with a pessimistic view, you can think of this as a word of caution. Don't overlook quality control, and don't accept mediocrity. Because a small slip is enough to cause a huge catastrophe.

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Misplaced Articles

"You never find a lost article until you replace it."

Well, I must admit that I have been a victim of this Murphy's Law a few times. Whether it is a missing report, set of keys, or even a favourite dress, I have found that only when I give up my search and replace the missing item with the new one, that I find the lost article.

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"Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value."

Funny how this works! Have you noticed that the most valuable items are irretrievably damaged, while things you don't care for last forever? So take care of those things you value most, because you may not be able to replace them. More importantly, protect your family, your relationships, your friendships, and your true love. Those are fragile, and irreplaceable.

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"Smile. Tomorrow will be worse."

Ever believe in a better tomorrow? Don't. According to this Murphy's Law, you can never be sure whether your tomorrow will be better than today. Make the most of today. That is all that matters. Life is too short to enjoy later. Though there is touch of pessimism here, I'd like to believe that this law teaches us to appreciate what we have today, instead of focusing on a better tomorrow. 

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Solving Problems

"Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse."

Now, isn't this a common occurrence? Problems left unsolved can only get more complicated. If you don't sort out your differences with your partner, things only get worse from that point on. The important lesson to remember is that you cannot ignore a problem. Resolve it before things go out of hand. 

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"Enough research will tend to support your theory."

Here is a Murphy's Law that needs careful contemplation. Does it mean every concept can be proven to be a theory if adequate research is done? If you want to believe in a certain idea, you can provide enough research to back your idea. The question is whether you are able to look at your research with a neutral viewpoint.

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"The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm."

Appearances can be deceptive. A shiny apple could be rotten from inside. Don't get taken by opulence and glamour. The truth is far from what you see.

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"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."

When a fact is difficult to contest, people accept it at face value. However, when you present a fact that can be easily verified, people want to be sure. Why is that? Because, invariably humans tend to take overwhelming information for granted. They don't have the resource nor the presence of mind to work out the veracity of a tall claim.

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Time Management

"The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time, the last 10% takes the other 90% of the time."

Though this quote is often attributed to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs, this is also considered a Murphy's Law. It is a humorous take on how many projects often overshoot the deadline. Time cannot be allocated in mathematical proportions. Time expands to fill up the gaps, while it also seems to contract when you need it most. This is a similar to Parkinson's Law that states: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. However, according to Murphy's Law, work expands beyond the allocated time.

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Working Under Pressure

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"Things get worse under pressure."

Don't we all know how true this is? When you try to force things in your favour, they are bound to get worse. If you have a teenager to parent, you would know. Or if you are trying to train your dog, you will have already worked this out. The more the pressure you apply, the less you are likely to be successful. Interesting thought, eh?