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Monday, August 04, 2008

Eponymous Laws

Pretty much everyone knows Murphy's Law ("If anything can go wrong, it will"). But there are a number of other eponymous laws (i.e. laws named after someone). I just came across the Wikipedia page listing many, many more. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Brook's Law - "adding manpower to a late software project only makes it later" (this also holds for academic initiatives)
  • The Dilbert Principle (coined by Scott Adams) - "the most ineffective people are promoted to the place wher they can do the least amount of damage: management"
  • Godwin's Law - "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."
  • Hanlon's razor - "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
  • Muphry's law - "if you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written"
  • Parkinson's law - "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".
  • Peckham's Law - Beauty times brains equals a constant.
  • Peter principle - "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence"
  • 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"
  • Wirth's law — Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.
There are quite a few others. Read the whole page here (and feel free to add your favorite in the comments section).

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