"The first experiment already illustrates a truth of the theory, well confirmed by practice, what-ever can happen will happen if we make trials enough."
—Augustus de Morgan
is summed up as "If something can be used or done a right way and a wrong way, and the wrong way will lead to catastrophe
, it will be used or done the wrong way
As originally applied, Murphy's Law — coined by, and named after, U.S. Air Force engineer Edward A. Murphy, Jr.
— was intended not as ironic humor but as a serious admonition to engineers: a device shouldn't be made so that it can
be used incorrectly in the first place, a practice commonly referred to as Idiot-Proofing
or "defensive design". Study, for instance, the loss of several F-111 (TFX ) aircraft during the Vietnam War due to the backwards insertion of a graphite pin in the rudder assembly. Had Murphy's Law been heeded, the pin would have been designed so that it could not be inserted backwards
Murphy's Law is also the most commonly used term for the infamously pessimistic maxim, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." The creator was not happy that his important advice was afterwards taken out of context
— this itself became an example of Murphy's Law in action
. Given that the actual Murphy's Law is something different, we cover this mutation under Finagle's Law note
instead. However, on this wiki, it references quite a few things, so we've made this page to help people figure out which one they really want.
If you want...
Also, Murphy was an optimist.