18 Unnatural Laws

From The Book of Lists (1977), sampled from Arthur Bloch’s Murphy’s Lawand Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong:

  1. MURPHY’S LAW
  2. If anything can go wrong, it will.

  3. O’TOOL’S COMMENTARY ON MURPHY’S LAW
  4. Murphy was an optimist.

  5. THE UNSPEAKABLE LAW
  6. As soon as you mention something…
    …if it’s good, it goes away.
    …if it’s bad, it happens.

  7. NONRECIPROCAL LAWS OF EXPECTATIONS
  8. Negative expectations yield negative results.
    Positive expectations yield negative results.

  9. HOWE’S LAW
  10. Every man has a scheme that will not work.

  11. ZYMURGY’S FIRST LAW OF EVOLVING SYSTEM DYNAMICS
  12. Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

  13. ETORRE’S OBSERVATION
  14. The other line moves faster.

  15. SKINNER’S CONSTANT (FLANNAGAN’S FINAGLING FACTOR)
  16. That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to or subtracted from the answer you get, gives you the answer you should have gotten.

  17. LAW OF SELECTIVE GRAVITY
  18. An object will fall so as to do the most damage.

    9A. JENNING’S COROLLARY
    The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

  19. GORDON’S FIRST LAW
  20. If a research project is not worth doing at all, it is not worth doing well.

  21. MAIER’S LAW
  22. If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.

  23. HOARE’S LAW OF LARGE PROBLEMS
  24. Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out.

  25. BOREN’S FIRST LAW
  26. When in doubt, mumble.

  27. THE GOLDEN RULE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
  28. Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

  29. BARTH’S DISTINCTION
  30. There are two types of people: those who divide people into types, and those who don’t.

  31. SEGAL’S LAW
  32. A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

  33. NINETY-NINE RULE OF PROJECT SCHEDULES
  34. The first 90% of the task takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% takes the other 90%.

  35. FARBER’S FOURTH LAW
  36. Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.

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