I am the Law

Relatively new (to me) general laws named after people that I’ve recently come across:

Godwin’s Law, mentioned in Black Sun Journal “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Hanlon’s Razor, mentioned in Barefoot Bum: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

Brook’s Law: mentioned in someone’s course book “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”

There was even a superb post on NewsBiscuitArchbishop claims introduction of Sod’s Law is inevitable“, very funny if you get the reference (Archbishop of Canterbury and Shari’a Law), probably even funny, if you don’t.

Here’s a quote:

Sod’s Law has already been introduced in some parts of the UK. New Welsh secretary, Paul Murphy, introduced his own version of the law in Wales this month. From 1 February ‘Murphy’s Law’ dictates that anyone who applies for a public sector post will be interviewed by panel that includes the driver you crashed into on the way to the interview or an ex-girlfriend who found you in bed with her sister.

Wikipedia beat me to the punch in my plan of listing all the laws that are named after someone. It has a whole page titled List of eponymous laws. Most of them are standard Boyles’ Law-style Laws but they also have the new ones.

Linus Torvalds is the only person whose Law was named for his first name.

Linus’s law — named for Linus Torvalds, states “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”.

I can’t find a single female. That’s not to say that there are no females in the list. I don’t know. I not only never heard of most of these people, I’ve never heard of most of the Laws. Nor can I think of when they might apply.

I’m taking it that they are general principles. Otherwise the temptation to break ones like

Reilly’s law — of Retail Gravitation, people generally patronize the largest mall in the area.

would be well nigh overwhelming. It’s a bit wishy-washy anyway… “generally.” Much I would like to flout it by going to the smallest mall I could find, it seems a bit too unprescriptive for a full-scale law, so hardly worth the effort of breaking it.

# Rothbard’s law — everyone specializes in his own area of weakness.
# Sarnoff’s law — the value of a broadcast network is proportional to the number of viewers.

I am not at all convinced by Rothbard’s law. Otherwise I’d be running a housekeeping service. And Sarnoff? What. Any business’s value depends on the number of its customers. What sort of a meaningful Law is that? How did he get his name stuck on a Law on the basis of so banal an observation?

I’m leading up to a point…..

It’s about time there was a Law coined by a female, so I am volunteering. Following Linus, I’m going to use my first name. (Well, my first name as in nom de blog.) I thought of plundering Oscar Wilde’s work for all those pithy sayings, presented in an arch Law-like way. Too cowardly, and it would be breaking a plagiarism Law. Here’s my first humble effort.

Heather’s Law: “Any general observation is more likely to be be presented as a Law the more closely it approaches a truism”

6 thoughts on “I am the Law

  1. Skitt’s Law – a corollary of Murphy’s Law, variously expressed as “any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself” or “the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster.”

  2. Karen’s law of software: that which has not been tested by definition does not work. I spent several years trying to pound this through the heads of clueless software managers, who refused to allocate enough test time.

    I’m on thinner ice with this one, but I’ll offer it as a hypothesis: the success of a marriage is loosely correlated with the inverse of the number of wedding guests. (Happily married 28 years this June; 18 wedding attendees, including the priest, the harpsichordist, and the neighbor’s cat who wandered into the church during the ceremony.)

    The law of powerpoint presentations: The number of your slides that really are clearly readable when projected at 72-dpi goes in inverse proportion to the importance of the presentation.

  3. Karen

    Some great Laws. We should submit some to wikipedia….

    I have another Powerpoint one:

    The likelihood that a speaker will read out every word on a Powerpoint presentation increases in direct relationship to the dullness of the content.

  4. You need to get all these laws added to Wikipedia so when someone else, in the future, tries to claim ownership you can trounce them.

  5. I’ve put Clark’s spin on Hanlon’s Razor (perhaps one could call it Heller’s Law) as my motto: “Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.”

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