"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
The well-known statement of Murphy's Law turns out to be a corruption
of its original formulation: "If there's a wrong way to do a thing, somebody
will find it and do it that way."
Murphy's Second Law
If things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.
Chisholm's First Corollary to Murphy's Second Law:
When things just can't possibly get any worse, they will.
1. Things will get worse before they get better.
2. Who said things would get better?
- Two wrongs are only the beginning.
- If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
- Exceptions prove the rule ... and wreck the budget.
- Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
- No one is listening until you make a mistake.
- He who hesitates is probably right.
- The ideal resume will turn up one day after the position is filled.
- If something is confidential, it will be left in the copier machine.
- A clean tie attracts the soup of the day.
- The hardness of the butter is in direct proportion to the softness
of the bread.
- The bag that breaks is the one with the eggs.
- When there are sufficient funds in the checking account, checks take
two weeks to clear. When there are insufficient funds, checks clear
- The book you spent $20.95 for today will come out in paperback tomorrow.
- The more an item costs, the farther you have to send it for repairs.
- If it says "one size fits all," it doesn't fit anyone.
- The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required on
- Love letters, business contracts and money due you always arrive
three weeks late, whereas junk mail arrives the day it was sent.
- When you drop coins, the pennies will fall nearby, while all the
others will roll out of sight.
- The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
- Interchangeable parts won't.
- On a bicycle, no matter which way you wish to go, it's uphill and
against the wind.
- Work is accomplished by those employees who have yet to reach their
level of incompetence.
- As soon as the stewardess serves the coffee, the airline encounters
- When reviewing your notes for a test, the most important ones will
- The least experienced fisherman always catches the biggest fish.
General Rules and Laws
Abbott's First Admonition
If you have to ask, you're not entitled to know.
Abbott's Second Admonition
If you don't like the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question.
When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.
Rule of Accuracy:
When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you
know the answer.
Corollary: Provided, of course, that you know there is a problem.
Acheson's Rule of Bureaucracy: A memorandum is written
not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.
Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Anybody can win - unless there happens to be a second entry.
When the plane you are on is late, the plane you want to transfer to is
Social innovations tend to the level of minimum tolerable well being.
Never eat at a place called Mom's.
Never play cards with a man named Doc.
And never lie down with a woman who's got more troubles than you.
Allen's Law of Civilization:
It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming
Agnes Allen's Law:
Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.
Fred Allen's Motto:
I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.
Alley's Axiom: Justice always prevails . . . three times
out of seven.
The objective of all dedicated product support employees should be to
- thoroughly analyze all situations,
- anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence,
- have answers for these problems, and move swiftly to solve these
problems when called upon.
- However, when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult
to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.
The best simple-minded test of experience in a particular area is the
ability to win money in a series of bets on future occurrences in that
I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked
at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
Anthony's Law of Force:
Don't force it, get a larger hammer.
Anthony's Law of the Workshop:
Any tool, when dropped, will roll into the least accessible corner of
Corollary: On the way to the corner, any dropped tool will first
always strike your toes.
Any order that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood.
If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't move, pick it up; if you can't pick
it up, paint it.
Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is
like trying to play Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" on a ukelele.
An alcoholic is a person who drinks more than his own physician.
Jim Barries Admission
I am not young enough to know everything.
There are two types of people: those who divide people into two types,
and those who don't.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
The probability of a young man meeting a desirable and receptive young
female increases by pyramidal progression when he is already in the company
of: (1) a date, (2) his wife, (3) a better looking and richer male friend.
Bombeck's Rule of Medicine
Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.
You always find something in the last place you look.
(1) When in charge, ponder.
(2) When in trouble, delegate.
(3) When in doubt, mumble.
Flattery is the sincerest form of lying.
Brady's First Law of Problem Solving
When confronted by a difficult problem, you can solve it more easily by
reducing it to the question, "How would the Lone Ranger have handled this?"
Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.
Samuel Butler's Law
Life is one long process of getting tired.
When all else fails, read the instructions.
The Carpenter's Rule
Cut to fit - beat into place.
Churchill's Commentary on Man
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he
will pick himself up and continue on.
Arthur C. Clarke's precept
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Colvard's Logical Premise
All probabilities are 50%. Either a thing will happen or it won't.
Colvard's Unconscionable Commentary: This is especially
true when dealing with someone you're attracted to.
In any organization there will always be one person who knows what is
going on. This person must be fired.
Carolyn M. Corry's Law
Paper is always strongest at the perforations.
Family reunions are all relative.
Drew's Law of Highway Biology
The first bug to hit a clean windshield lands directly in front of your
If you view your problem closely enough you will recognize yourself as
part of the problem.
Opportunity always knocks at the least opportune moment.
Education: Fourth law
The night before the English History mid-term, your Biology instructor
will assign 200 pages on planaria.
Corollary: Every instructor assumes that you have nothing else
to do except study for that instructor's course.
Education: Fifth Law
If you are given an open-book exam, you will forget your book.
Corollary: If you are given a take-home exam, you will forget where you
With extremely few exceptions, nothing is worth the trouble.
Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.
Never replicate a successful experiment.
Science is true. Don't be misled by facts.
Finagle's First Law
If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
Corollary: On a seasonally adjusted basis, there are only six months
in a year.
Finagle's Second Law:
No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager
(a) misinterpret it,
(b) fake it, or
(c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.
Finagle's Third Law
In any collection of data, the figure most obviously correct, beyond all
need of checking, is the mistake
Corollary: Nobody whom you ask for help will see it.
Finagle's fourth Law
Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it only makes it worse.
Corollary: The first person who stops by, whose advice you really
don't want to hear, will see a solution immediately.
When you need to knock on wood is when you realize that the world is composed
of nylon, plastic and aluminum.
If you knew what you were doing you'd probably be bored.
The Law of the Frisbee
The most powerful force in the world is that of a disc straining to land
under a car, just out of reach
Fudd's First Law of Opposition
Push something hard enough and it will fall over.
Murray Gell-Mann's Law
Whatever isn't forbidden is required; thus, if there's no reason why something
shouldn't exist, then it must exist.
Virtue is just vice at rest.
Gerrold's Laws of Infernal Dynamics:
1. An object in motion will always be headed in the wrong direction.
2. An object at rest will always be in the wrong place.
3. The energy required to change either one of these states will always
be more than you wish to expend, but never so much as to make the task
1. You can't win.
2. You can't break even.
3. You can't even quit the game.
Freeman's Commentary on Ginsberg's theorem:
Major philosophies have been built on misinterpretation of parts of Ginsberg's
Capitalism is based on the assumption that you can win.
Socialism is based on the assumption that you can break even.
Mysticism is based on the assumption that you can quit the game.
No shoelace ever broke being untied.
Sam Goldwyn's Law:
A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
Gordon's Object Lifespan Theorem
No matter the amount of care given to a purchased object, it will fuse/explode/disassemble
within three (3) days of warranty expiration.
Common sense is the least common of all the senses.
Heenan's Research Premise:
There is no Theory - Practice Gap, there is only Continental Drift.
Corollary: In theory, there is no difference between theory and
practice, but in practice there is a great deal of difference.
History: First Rule
History doesn't repeat itself -- historians merely repeat each other.
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter's
Law into account.
Herbert Hoover's Axiom:
About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.
Lane Hurewitz's Memory Principle
The chance of forgetting something is directly proportional to ... to
F. P. Jones' Creed
Experience enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
No child throws up in the bathroom.
Lazarus Long's Thesis:
Always listen to experts.
They'll tell you what can't be done and why.
Then do it.
Leon's Liquor Law
Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
It is bad luck to be superstitious.
H. L. Mencken's Law:
For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and
If rats are experimented upon, they will develop cancer.
Nurses: an example of the Universality of Murphy's Law
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
Anything that happens enough times to irritate you will happen at least
Captain Penny's Law
You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people
all of the time, but you Can't Fool Mom.
The Peter Principle:
People tend to be promoted to their level of their incompetence
Preudhomme's Law of Window Cleaning
It's on the other side.
Crowded lifts smell different to people with restricted growth.
Slick's First Law of the Universe
Nothing in the known universe travels faster than a bad check.
Slick's Second Law of the Universe
A quarter-ounce of chocolate = four pounds of fat.
Slick's Third Law of the Universe
There are two types of dirt: the dark kind, which is attracted to light
objects, and the light kind, which is attracted to dark objects."
Socio-Genetics: First Law
Celibacy is not hereditary.
Tewksbury's Law of Motion
Bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. Bodies at rest tend to remain
De Vries's Dilemma:
If you hit two keys on the typewriter, the one you don't want hits the