Laws & Principles of Absurdity & Perversity

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2 years ago

I suppose you all know what a Law of Nature is, but have you ever heard about Laws of Absurdity/Perversity? Perhaps you have some time come across Murphy's law, and then you have a clue to what this is about. "If anything can go wrong, it will". That sort of absurd and perverse reality is the subject of these laws.

A considerable number of people have been dedicating their time and ingenuity to find and formulate the operating principles of the absurdity and perversity of life.

Various lists of these laws and principles have been and are circulated in the media, in books, and on the internet – the original sources are mostly impossible to establish with any degree of certainty. In that respect, they resemble proverbs or adages.

The lists sometimes contain huge amounts of sentences of various quality - some good, some bad. I would not call them all laws though. The beauty of a law lies in its simplicity and its general applicability. If it is too specific, it is losing its general or universal nature. No matter how good it is then, it no longer belongs among the laws.

Anyway, below you find some I like - law or not, who cares? Remember that ultimately laws and principles of absurdity and perversity are matters of humour – but, of course: at the bottom, all genuine humour is deadly serious...

From Murphy's Law on Perversity:

Nothing is as easy as it looks.

Everything takes longer than you expect.

If anything can go wrong, it will.

Left to themselves, all things go from bad to worse.

If you work on a thing long enough to improve it, it will break.

O'Tool's commentary to Murphy's law:

Murphy was an optimist.

Drucker's Law:

If one thing goes wrong, everything else will, and at the same time.

Non-reciprocal Laws of Expectations:

Negative expectations yield negative results.

Positive expectations yield negative results.

The Unspeakable Laws:

As soon as you mention something...

...if it's good, it goes away. ...if it's bad, it happens.

Maier's Law:

If the facts do not confirm to the theory, they must be disposed of.

Hoare's Law of Large Problems:

Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out.

Segal's Law:

A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

Peter Principle:

In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

Parkinson's Law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Sturgeon's Law:

Nothing is always absolutely so.

Whitehead's Law:

The obvious answer is always overlooked.

The Carpenter's Rule:

Cut to fit; beat into place.

Teller's Commentary:

Whoever learns to control the weather will have destroyed the last safe topic of conversation.

Stovall's Law of Negative Inaction:

The only thing wrong with doing nothing is that you never know when you're finished.

Souder's Law:

Repetition does not establish validity.

Steinmetz's Rumination:

There are no foolish questions, and no man becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.

Rule of Reason:

If nobody uses it, there's a reason.

Larkinson's Law:

All laws are basically false.

Murphy's law, and many other (although not all) Laws of Absurdity/Perversity are over-pessimistic. As such, they should not be taken too seriously. If you really believe in Murphy's law, your mindset will be too negative for success in life. See these rules as expressions of humour.

But who was Murphy, the man who gave his name to the most common and famous of the Laws of Perversity? Has he really existed?

Yes, he has.

The real Murphy was Captain Edward A. Murphy. He was an engineer, working with research in a project called “Air Force Project MX981“, in 1949. After finding an error in how a transducer was wired, he should have said about the responsible man that "If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll find it." This would be the reason why it came to be called Murphy's law.

This. however, only refers to the name, the law itself, expressed as we mostly hear it (“If anything can go wrong, it will”), was known before, often called Sod's Law. It seems to have been around in Yorkshire for hundreds of years, but I have no idea from where it first came.

Copyright © 2021 Meleonymica/Mictorrani. All Rights Reserved.

(Lead image by 愚木混株 Cdd20/Pixabay, CC0/Public Domain.)

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Avatar for Mictorrani
2 years ago


When I saw Murphy law, my mind flashed to Eddy Murphy the actor.

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2 years ago

At some point while reading your article, I believed this laws until I read it to the part where it is writing "all laws are basically false" and I was a bit confused because these laws are basically what happens in a man's day to day life. And I saw your explanation on the last two blocks of the article then I really understand why those laws are not entirely true. Nice article sir👏 Really caught me off guard.

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2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this knowledge have not had about Murphy because am just hearing it and it has added to my knowledge

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2 years ago

Nature itself is absurd in many ways. And we humans are the prime example. Good to know more about Murphy.

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2 years ago