Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Murphy's Law, Multiplied Many Times Various Versions All Point out How Bad It Is

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Murphy's Law, Multiplied Many Times Various Versions All Point out How Bad It Is

Article excerpt

TO MANY of us, the laws of science are one black hole. Boyle's Law and Coulomb's Law seem so confusing they could have been passed by Congress.

But there's one law we understand: Murphy's Law. We know "If anything can go wrong, it will."

There are some 7,000 other Murphy's laws. We have no trouble understanding any of them. These are the laws we live by.

Take Jason's Law: "An unbreakable toy is good for breaking other toys."

Consider the truth of Todd's Checkout Rules: (1) "The bar code in the checkout line won't work on items you're embarrassed to be buying." (2) "Cashiers may not count your items in the express lane, but the other customers will."

We can thank author Paul Dickson for these laws. He has the impressive title of Director For Life of the Murphy Center for the Codification of Human and Organizational Law. Paul has this title because he gave it to himself.

The Murphy Center has had amazing growth. "The Center started out in a shoebox in 1976," he said. "Now it's moved to several file drawers."

The reason for its success?

"The center thrives in times of worry," Dickson said.

These aren't the worst of times. But things sure aren't going right. When airplanes drop out of the sky and land on the White House, we know that Murphy's Law is working. When Newt Gingrich lands on the Democrats, they, too, believe in Murphy.

Everyone seems to be worried about their kids, their jobs and their money. If that isn't enough, the end of the millennium is almost here, sending biblical chills down our backs.

"It's not like we're having huge disasters. But we're trying to come to grips with things and Murphy's Law is a great comfort when everything goes wrong. It reassures people. They tell themselves: `I'm not in control. Murphy's Law has taken over.' "

In times of trouble, Dickson turns to a favorite law: "You're not late until you get there."

"It's simple, but I think of it when I'm stuck in traffic and late for a dental appointment. It gives me comfort."

Murphy's Laws have changed over the years. …

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