Terrible Truths
(Murphy's Laws and other principles of disaster)


  1. Murphy's First Law: Nothing is as easy as it looks. 


  2. Murphy's Second Law: Everything takes longer than you think. 


  3. Murphy's Third Law: In any field of scientific endeavor, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. 


  4. Murphy's Fourth Law: If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. 


  5. Murphy's Fifth Law: If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway. 


  6. Murphy's Sixth Law: If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop. 


  7. Murphy's Seventh Law: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse. 


  8. Murphy's Eighth Law: If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something. 


  9. Murphy's Ninth Law: Nature always sides with the hidden flaw. 


  10. Murphy's Tenth Law: It is impossible to make anything foolproof, because fools are so ingenious. 


  11. O'Toole's Commentary on Murphy's Laws: Murphy was an optimist.

  12. Rudy's First Rule on Holes: When you find yourself in a hole stop digging.


  13. Weiler's Law: Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.


  14. Nowlan's Theory: He who hesitates is not only lost, but several miles from the next freeway exit. 


  15. Van Roy's Law: Honesty is the best policy - there's less competition. 


  16. Van Roy's Truism: Life is a whole series of circumstances beyond your control. 


  17. Agnes' Law: Almost everything in life is easier to get into than out of. 


  18. Clarke's Conclusion: Never let your sense of morals interfere with doing the right thing. 


  19. Goda's Truism: By the time you get to the point where you can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends. 


  20. Johnny Carson's Observation: The smallest interval of time known to man is that which occurs in Manhattan between the traffic signal turning green and the taxi driver behind you blowing his horn. 


  21. Golub's Laws of Project Execution:

    a) Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.
    b) A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project takes only twice as long.
    c) The effort required to correct course increases geometrically with time.
    d) Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.


  22. The Phone Booth Rule: A lone quarter always gets the number nearly right.

  23. Thornton's N-1 Rule: When attempting to recall a memorized list of N items, you will remember only N-1 items.

    Corollary to Thornton's N-1 Rule: If you attempt to recall the same list ten minutes later, the missing item will be different.

  24. Rule of Accuracy: When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.


  25. Zall's Laws:

    1) Any time you get a mouthful of hot soup, the next thing you do will be wrong.
    2) How long a minute is, depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on.


  26. Ettore's Observation: The other line moves faster.

  27. McPhearson's Observation: The probability of anything happening is in inverse ratio to its desirability.


  28. Griffin's Thought: When you starve with a tiger, the tiger starves last. 


  29. Manly's Maxim: Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence. 

  30. Pudder's Laws:

    a) Anything that begins well ends badly.
    b) Anything that begins badly ends worse.


  31. Cann's Axiom: When all else fails, read the instructions. 


  32. Macaluso's Doctrine: You've never been as sick as just before you stop breathing. 

  33. Troutman's Postulate for Computer Programming:

    - Profanity is the one language understood by all programmers.

    - Not until a program has been in production for six months will the most harmful error be discovered.

    - Job control instructions that positively cannot be arranged in improper order will be.

    - Interchangeable routines won't.

    - If the input editor has been designed to reject all bad input, an ingenious idiot will discover a method to get bad data past it.

    - If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent systems will malfunction.

  34. Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology: There's always one more bug.


  35. Sattinger's Law: It works better if you plug it in. 


  36. The Law of Selective Gravity, or the Buttered-Side Down Law: An object will fall so as to do the most damage. 


  37. Stale's Law: No matter how careful one is in resealing the inner liner in a cereal box, it will tear where it is glued to the box.

  38. Rubitusky's Law: Any inanimate object, regardless of its position, configuration or purpose, may be expected to perform at any time in a totally unexpected manner for r reasons that are either entirely obscure or else completely mysterious.


  39. William's Law: There is no mechanical problem so difficult that it cannot be solved by brute strength and ignorance. 

  40. Horner's Five Thumb Postulate: Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

  41. Westheimer's Rule – To estimate the time it takes to do a task:

    Estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by two and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus, we allocate two days for a one hour task.

  42. Brooke's Law: Adding manpower to a late project makes it later.
    a.k.a. The Nine Pregnant Women will not get you a baby in One Month Law.

  43. Finagle's Fourth Law: Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it will only make it worse.

  44. Featherkile's Explanation: Whatever you did, that's what you planned.

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27 may 2002;
25 aug 2009;
20 mar 2010;
13 jan 2013