Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law

Apply Murphy’s Law liberally; ”If anything can go wrong it will”. (http://dmawww.epfl.ch/roso.mosaic/dm/murphy.html) What this really means is that if there is a possibility of something bad happening, then eventually it will happen. You can never guarantee that nothing will go wrong but you can go a long ways toward reducing the probability of something bad happening. If nothing is done to reduce the probability of failure then your chances of multiple things going wrong is increased. That is when you will need outside help. You can usually handle one thing going wrong but it is much harder to handle multiple problems at once.

Always think about what could happen, because if something is not done to stop it from happening, at some point it will happen and will probably happen at the worst possible time. Web sites abound regarding Murphy’s Law. I suggest that you look him up. Sayings like:

  • Mother nature will always find the hidden flaw,
  • Matters always get worse under pressure
  • Everything bad will happen at once
  • Things left alone will go from bad to worse
  • If you drop buttered bread it will always land buttered side down,
  • There is no end to things that can go wrong
  • No battle plan survives contact with the enemy
  • A failure will not occur until the unit has passed final inspection
  • You can determine the expert in a crowd as the one who predicts the highest cost and the longest schedule
  • The only perfect science is hind-sight

I have spent my career designing and building very complicated military electronic systems. I have given and watched many demonstrations of these high tech projects. The gismo to be demonstrated can be working perfectly one minute, then as soon as the Admiral or General steps into the room, the system will crash. I have seen it time and time again. It is probably the result of a nervous operator but it does happen. Something bad will happen if you don’t remove the possibility of it happening. This requires us to think of all of the possibilities and do something to lower the probability of it happening.

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