Murphy’s Law

What is Murphy’s Law?

Welcome to the realm of the Rule of Murphy. It's a very positive rule, saying that if something can go wrong, it will. If it can't go wrong, it's going to go wrong anyway. That is the basic premise of Murphy's Law. Another accurate and original interpretation of Murphy's Law is that if there are two or three ways to do it, and one of those ways will lead to tragedy, someone must do it. But the statement that best expresses the explosive nature of Murphy's Law is undoubtedly the idea that, whatever you decide, you will inevitably make the wrong choice. And maybe it's just right. This is not because of some mysterious power the law possesses.

In reality, we are the ones who give Murphy's Law relevance. When life goes well, it's a little bit of it. After all, we expect things to work out for us. But when things go wrong, we 're looking for a reason. It's food for thought, but there's no evidence to support Murphy's Law itself — it's all down to perception. The law has captured our imagination. Have you ever had one of those days before? You wake up and fall out of bed while you're bundled up in the sheets. On your way to the shower, you're going over your skateboard and then you're going to stick your toe to the door jamb.

As soon as you get your hair lathered with a shampoo, all the hot water is running out. As you come out of the shivering tub, you remember you forgot to take a towel. Can you get any worse this morning? It seems that anything that could go wrong this morning has actually gone wrong. Whether you've ever had a day like this, you 're probably already acquainted with Murphy's Law. Murphy's Law is the language that means that if anything can go wrong, it will. Is there any truth to this, though? And who's that Murphy anyway?

The idea at the heart of Murphy's Law — if anything could go wrong, it would — have been around for a long, long time. It reflects the basic pessimism of life that many people point to and find comfort in when things just don't go their way. The concept is also broadened. For example, you might hear people say that if something goes wrong, it will ... and at the worst possible moment and in the worst possible way. You can even hear it rehearsed in a number of different ways, such as if you drop a piece of toast, it's sure to land buttered-side down.

Variations of Murphy's Law have been around for several years and come under several different titles, like Sod 's Rule, Finagle 's Law, the Fourth Thermodynamics Law, Newton 's Fourth Motion Law, and the Inverse Midas Contact. Most of them were in use long before the word Murphy's Law became common. Who was this Murphy, then? Some people don't think there was a true Murphy. Instead, they claim Murphy was a name given to a tumultuous mechanic who appeared in old Navy cartoons around the time of World War II. Others, though, believe that there was indeed a Murphy.

In fact, Murphy's Law is generally credited to Captain Edward A. Murphy, Jr. Captain Murphy was an air force engineer who took part in a deceleration test at Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1949. During the check, Captain Murphy discovered that all 16 deceleration sensors had been improperly mounted. Each sensor could be mounted in two ways, and the sensor was incorrectly mounted in either case. Basically, if anything could go wrong, that's what it did. Murphy said something to that effect, others echoed it, and the theory has since become more widely known as Murphy's Law.

Murphy's Law remains a popular concept because we tend to focus on negative events and look for reasons when things go wrong. Put another way, we tend to ignore all the stuff that's going right all day. Yet when things go wrong, we prefer to wring our hands and yell out, "Why?" Although it may be common to blame bad things for Murphy's Law, is there any scientific evidence for it? Perhaps! Many scientists claim that the second law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of entropy, supports Murphy's law. In our universe, according to the law of entropy, systems naturally tend to end up in disorder.

Although this might be valid on a wide scale over time, it certainly doesn't justify why you tripped over your skateboard or ran out of hot water in the shower! 

 

Example of Murphy’s Law 

There are countless examples of this in today's culture. It is accepted, for example, that the bread will always land the butter-side down when it is dropped, that there will be rain as soon as you wash your car, and that the other line will always move faster when you queue. Of course, many people will interpret this law as a pessimistic view of life. In fact, they couldn't be any further from the truth. Losers can take advantage of a good knowledge of Murphy's Law to help better prepare themselves for the unexpected problems and challenges that life is putting in our way.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Who Invented Murphy’s Law?

Ans: Dr. John Stapp. The phrase was coined in an adverse reaction to something Murphy said when his devices failed to perform and were eventually cast into its present form a few months later — the first ever (of many) given by Dr. John Stapp, a U.S. Colonel of the Air Force and Flight Surgeon in the 1950s.

Q2: How Does Murphy's Law Work?

Ans: Murphy's law is a familiar adage that states that "things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance," or more generally, "whatever goes wrong will go wrong." A variety of versions of the concept have been developed, as have many corollaries.