Sunday, April 29, 2007

Murphy's law... or Murphy's rule?

"If anything can go wrong, it will" is the core idea that is stated by Murphy's Law. From time to time, everybody experiences the power and truth contained in this phrase.

Simple everyday examples make us remember that Murphy was right when he stated such law:
  • When you're driving on a lane that is not moving at all, you notice that the lane beside yours is flowing. You change to the next lane, and suddenly it stops and the lane you were in starts moving.
  • After a long 12 hour flight, you arrive to an airport and notice that you are missing a document to clear immigration. You are sent to the immigration office, where you have to wait for ages to be cleared and you miss your connection flight. You manage to reschedule your next flight, but that one is announced to be delayed. (This is a true story!)
  • You wash your car, and unexpectedly, it rains a few minutes later.
  • Bread will always land on the jammed side if it drops from your hand. Technically, if things can be worse, it will also land on your pants.
I'd say that, since Murphy's law does not always apply, it should be considered a rule. But regardless of this, to whom do we owe the wisdom to formulate this rule?

We owe it, of course, to an individual named Murphy. According to a popular belief, a Captain named Edward A. Murphy, who in 1949 supposedly said on a project about a certain technician: "If there's some way to make it wrong, he'll find it". Some people recorded this saying and named it the "Murphy's Law".

Not everybody agrees with such tale about the origin of the (so called) law. Another explanation, for example, suggests that in Great Britain, people created the idea about Murphy's law to explain the slips or Irish people, so it's only about a joke that became popular.

These are only a couple of the infinity of stories that try to explain the origin of a name for Murphy's law. Despite this dispute, it is necessary to acknowledge that Murphy's law is probably a phenomenon that existed many years before its supposed discovery. It's a phenomenon that has probably been there since humans started to make decisions, and it will be forever there, unless humans become someday perfect (which, of course, will never happen).

With some information from Murphy's Laws site.


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