VitaminQ - a temple of trivia lists and curious words
Vitamin Q: the book!
~ Sunday, January 26, 2003
"As a discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." This is the theory of one Mike Godwin; the 'law' originated in the jargon of the Usenet world, but is now applicable to most lengthy arguments. The party dragging up the taboo subjects as a trump card automatically ends the argument on the losing side.
There is no definite wording of Sod's Law. It is essentially a comic explanation of ironic misfortune. It maintains that a piece of bread and butter dropped will land butter side down. Basically, in a moment of crisis, forces beyond your control, inanimate objects, weather etc will join forces to make the crisis steeper.
"If anything can go wrong, it will."* Attributed to Captain E Murphy of the Wright Field Aircraft Laboratory. Or is it engineer Ed Murphy of the Edwards Air Force Base, California? Already, a mist settles on the true derivation. Some claim the original saying was a slur on a sloppy technician: "If there's a way to do it wrong, he'll find it", which is semantically quite different. Whatever, it is more likely that the attribution is due to that mildly pejorative sense of pithy, homespun logic which the Irish are said to treasure.
The difference between Murphy's and Sod's Laws is quite subtle and can get a bit mathematical. Don't bother with it.
*Note: while typing this short sentence, I made nine typing errors!