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Buttered side down. Definitely.
January 5, 2009 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Though you'd think it's as old as humanity itself, Murphy's Law is only just turning sixty this year. Happy 60th, Murph!
posted by flapjax at midnite (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is the first FPP I read after I woke up to find my flight delayed 4 hours. Damn you Murphy! And may the airline industry burn.
posted by ageispolis at 5:27 AM on January 5, 2009


Color me surprised. It's even younger than Murphy Brown, and it's just a baby compared to the oil soap.
posted by p3t3 at 5:29 AM on January 5, 2009


If this thread can become a trainwreck, it will.
posted by orange swan at 5:37 AM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Murphy's Law debunked: this FPP is not a double.
posted by not_on_display at 5:37 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can't debunk Murphy's Law, as the article points out. Because it even applies to itself.

Anyways, sort of a double. :)
posted by vacapinta at 5:43 AM on January 5, 2009


I always hate how people blame Murphy when things go wrong. The Law is descriptive, not prescriptive!

Murphy's Cognitive Corollary: There is no concept so simple that someone cannot misunderstand it.
posted by DU at 5:43 AM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Although the common usage of the term tends to focus on the "bad things always happen" aspect, I think the original meaning mentioned in the article is more instructive. When designing things, it's easy to just focus on the common case and not think about the possibilities of accidental misuse. Keeping Murphy's Law in mind can be helpful in designing pretty much anything, from desktop software to nuclear reactors, and a lot of the worst design mistakes come from not taking the time to imagine the various ways things might go wrong.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:48 AM on January 5, 2009


burnmp3s, that's sexist!
posted by oddman at 6:08 AM on January 5, 2009


Murphy's Law, as stated: "If there's any way for him to do it wrong, he will."

Thus: Murphy's law *itself* is affected by Murphy's law.
posted by eriko at 6:09 AM on January 5, 2009


Keeping Murphy's Law in mind can be helpful in designing pretty much anything, from desktop software to nuclear reactors, and a lot of the worst design mistakes come from not taking the time to imagine the various ways things might go wrong.

Right. As Martin Seligman wrote in his book on optimism, there are career paths in which it is an advantage to be a pessimist. Non-trial lawyers, for instance, benefit from a pessimistic cast of mind because they can think of all the things that might go wrong, and provide for those possible eventualities.
posted by orange swan at 6:15 AM on January 5, 2009


The whole question of toast falling buttered side down has been studied in the Euro-Journal of Physics. When you see your toast sliding off the table, give it a smart swipe to help it on its way.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:15 AM on January 5, 2009


How about a new corollary?

Bush's Law: If anything can be done badly, it will.
posted by fungible at 6:19 AM on January 5, 2009


I think Bush's Law is more along the lines of:
If anything can be done badly then it will, garnished with wooooah that's so screwed up with a side order of totally fucked.
posted by i_cola at 6:33 AM on January 5, 2009


Falling trees have the right of way.
posted by netbros at 6:38 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Falling trees have the right of way.

Including the ones that don't make a sound if there's no one there to hear them?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2009


Bush's Law: If anything can be done badly, it will.

If it is more profitable to do something badly, it will be entrusted to an incompetent.
posted by DU at 6:49 AM on January 5, 2009


If a bear hears a tree fall in a forest, the tree will fall on it.
posted by ardgedee at 6:51 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


If a bear hears a tree fall in a forest, the tree will fall on it.

Ah, but what if it's the Pope?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:58 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If a beaver escapes and fells trees, the Torygraph will scream that it's the end of British life as we know it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:17 AM on January 5, 2009


For some reason, I always assumed the rule came out of WWII. Thanks for the background article.
posted by pandaharma at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2009


Bush's Law: If, the, uh, if the wrong can do anything, then, uh, we are, something.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:38 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay! Go feral beavers.
posted by mandal at 9:03 AM on January 5, 2009


If a feral beaver sees the forest for the trees, we'll have six more weeks of winter.
posted by otolith at 9:07 AM on January 5, 2009


Murphy's law definitely helped me go through college... lol
posted by smorris at 9:16 AM on January 5, 2009


not_on_display: Murphy's Law debunked: this FPP is not a double.
vacapinta: You can't debunk Murphy's Law, as the article points out. Because it even applies to itself. Anyways, sort of a double. :)

Murphy's Law: doubly rebunked!

MetaFilter: Yay! Go feral beavers.
posted by not_on_display at 9:31 AM on January 5, 2009


Feral Beavers is my new band name.
posted by swift at 9:53 AM on January 5, 2009


Do feral beavers wear funny hats?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2009


Cole's Law: sliced cabbage
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:15 AM on January 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong?
posted by monospace at 10:55 AM on January 5, 2009


I WAS going to post about Murphy's Law first, but somehow I managed to blue screen my computer. Damn it all.
posted by happyroach at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2009


In high school I quoted Murphy's Law to someone and she looked at me, totally serious, and said, "well, you know more about science than I do."
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


However, it's always been screwing us over...
posted by jon_hansen at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2009


I try to apply Murphy's Law to all aspects of my life: Knowing that if something can go wrong, it will, how can I design events to ensure that when it does fail, it does so in the most spectacularly, explosively, catastrophic way?

And while this might sound like fun, I don't actually recommend this approach to doing your taxes.
posted by quin at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2009


P.o.B. - depends on what time of the month it is.

/ducks out of the room
posted by Nauip at 2:17 PM on January 5, 2009


"Murphy's Law"? Give the fecker who came up with the idea all the credit he deserves...

Sod's Law.
posted by Dysk at 2:22 PM on January 5, 2009


The Guardian article mentions Nick Spark's real-life detective/history report about how Murphy's Law got its name. We published that article in 2003 in the Annals of Improbable Research. Nick later expanded it into an even more curious book called A History of Murphy's Law. Nick book deserves more attention than it got, and maybe this "anniversary" of The Law will introduce it to some new readers.
Ps. The three people most involved in naming Murphy's Law were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for their achievement.
posted by MarcAbrahams at 2:31 PM on January 5, 2009


It would have been teh funny if flapjax's post had had a couple of obvious typos in it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:29 PM on January 5, 2009


Y'know, stav, I was gonna do that, really, but Murphy's Law applied once again: I forgot to include the typos, and fucked up my original plan. Buttered side down.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:42 AM on January 6, 2009


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