10 Murphy's Laws That Explain Unfathomable Truths

Those who are fascinated by the capriciousness of the universe must find Murphy's Law and its variations interesting reads. Murphy's Law is a name given to any old adage that states if there is anything that can go wrong, it will. 

Interpretations of the original adage were found in documents dating to the early 19th century. However, the adage grew in popularity when Edward Murphy, an engineer who was working at Edwards Air Force Base on a project, found a technical error made by one of the junior technicians and said, "If there's any way to do it wrong, he will find it." Dr. John Paul Stapp, 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.

The original law has many offshoots, but they all are similar in nature. Here are the original law and nine of its most popular variations.

01
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The Original Murphy's Law

Unlucky toast with jam
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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.

02
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On Misplaced Articles

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

Whether it is a missing report, set of keys or a sweater, you can expect to find it right after you replace it, according to this variation of Murphy's Law.

03
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On Value

"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. 

04
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On the Future

"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 a touch of pessimism here, this law teaches us to appreciate what we have today, instead of focusing on a better tomorrow. 

05
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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 with this law is that you cannot ignore a problem. Resolve it before things get out of hand.

06
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On Theories

"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.

07
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On Appearances

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

Appearances can be deceptive is the message of this variation of Murphy's Law. A shiny apple could be rotten from inside. Don't get taken in by opulence and glamor. The truth may be far from what you see.

08
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On Belief

"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 resources or the presence of mind to work out the veracity of a tall claim.

09
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On 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 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.

10
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On Working Under Pressure

Water to the Face
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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 favor, they are apt to get worse. If you have a teenager to parent, you would know, or if you are trying to train your dog, you have already worked this out. The more pressure you apply, the less likely you are to be successful.