Littlewood, Brandolini, Gibson, Goodhart, Dollo, Parkinson, Wiio, Sayre+
November 14, 2019 7:04 PM   Subscribe

 
Cole's Law: Thinly sliced cabbage
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:20 PM on November 14 [18 favorites]


5. Dollo’s law: In evolution, organisms can’t re-evolve to a former state because the path that led to its former state was so complicated that the odds of retracing that exact path round to zero.

Say an animal has a tail, and then it evolves to lose its tail. The odds that it will ever evolve to regain a tail are nil, because the path that originally gave it a tail was so complex.


The example here is definitely mistaken, but by Brandolini's Law I can't be arsed to explain exactly why.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 7:26 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


What? No Murphy's Law?!?
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:28 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


i’m right here
posted by murphy slaw at 8:08 PM on November 14 [31 favorites]


5. Dollo’s law: In evolution, organisms can’t re-evolve to a former state because the path that led to its former state was so complicated that the odds of retracing that exact path round to zero.

I have no idea whether that's true in the biological context, but it reminds me of how navigation works in different spaces. Imagine you're a bug on a ball. Even wandering randomly, you're likely to return to your starting place any number of times. In flat space, the difficulty of backtracking grows slowly with the distance you need to cover- you've got a good chance of returning somewhere close to where you started. But in hyperbolic space, you're fucked. The difficulty grows quickly with the distance you're covering. Think of a tiny aphid crawling around on a crinkly piece of kale- the furls and undulations would be mazelike, magnifying minor errors as you go. Try out HyperRogue to experience this difficulty yourself.
posted by Jpfed at 8:12 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


Dunno about the ergodicity of evolution, but I can think of several species that have regained traits intermediate ancestors didn’t have. The path to a tail the first time was mindbogglingly unlikely.
posted by clew at 8:22 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


I have seen each of these laws illustrated at one time or another at my ad agency. Except for the miracles...
posted by memewit at 8:30 PM on November 14


"The part of your brain whose bandwidth deals with threats doesn’t like to stay still. There’s a baseline level of stress people need in their lives to keep their minds alert, and if they don’t get it from legitimate sources they’ll find something meaningless to fret about. Many of you know a trust-funder who validates this theory."

You know when you read something so powerful you have to put down your phone and stare into space until the room stops spinning
posted by bleep at 9:15 PM on November 14 [10 favorites]


In evolution, organisms can’t re-evolve to a former state because the path that led to its former state was so complicated that the odds of retracing that exact path round to zero.

Also this is why it's so hard to Let's Just Be Friends again. Your friendship proved its instability by turning into a relationship. (Reasonable people are smarter than blind evolution, of course, so they can build themselves a different path to friendship.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:30 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Brandolini is playing out on Fox "news" every day, in real time.
posted by Chuffy at 11:18 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


That seems like a pretty mundane definition of a miracle...and I'm afraid my eyes start rolling when lists like this mention "business" or "businesses" so often.
posted by maxwelton at 2:28 AM on November 15


I frame Goodhart's Law in terms of "measurement" rather than "measure" so that it's easier to understand. This is a recommendation rather than a joke.

I find Goodhart's Law quite frightening in an era where people try to use more and more measurements to guide policy.

I just realized that the SNAFU principle-- communication is impossible in a hierarchy-- is closely related to Goodhart's Law.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 2:36 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


List of Eponymous Laws

(Sturgeon's Law applies, of course.)
posted by chavenet at 3:12 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


I frame Goodhart's Law in terms of "measurement" rather than "measure" so that it's easier to understand.

I'm not sure I agree with this (I think of a 'measurement' as a single application of a measure), but I will think on it. I do a lot of reporting at work, and I have seriously considered having Goodhart's law tattooed on my forehead to save me time.
posted by pompomtom at 4:53 AM on November 15


There are no conservative meteorologists ..
If I can define climate deniers as conservative, that's not true.

I do accept the premise of the miracles law. I'd say that active people are going to see more miracles that sedentary people, because more things happen to them. I don't think I will ever experience a miracle while watching TV, absent some extraordinary external event.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:51 AM on November 15


Ocschwar's law:

Improvements in software development methodology will drive correspondent changes in developer's duties and work load so as to conserve the level of aggravation.
posted by ocschwar at 7:42 AM on November 15


People used to ascribe an iron law of hotel internet connectivity to me:
The more expensive the hotel, the worse and/or more expensive the broadband.
The inverse is also true.
posted by doctornemo at 9:12 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


I don't think I will ever experience a miracle while watching TV, absent some extraordinary external event.

I'm not so sure. I've seen pundits on Fox tell the truth on occasion...

(I will refrain from using Fox as a reference for the rest of the day now, having done so twice in one thread)
posted by Chuffy at 9:49 AM on November 15


Every rule has its exceptions. Including this one.
posted by Acey at 4:32 PM on November 15


Petting Schrodinger's cat: Useful caveats

1. My dog doesn't bite.
2. My mule doesn't kick.
3. My truck didn't make that noise before you borrowed it.
posted by mule98J at 6:05 AM on November 18


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