Culture and Society

What does Murphy's Law claim?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Murphy's Law is an idiom that claims that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. For example, according to Murphy's Law, if an auto manufacturer performs thorough safety inspections on 999 out of 1,000 vehicles, the one vehicle left unchecked will be the one to malfunction and cause an injury. This principle, while useful in many ways, is really more a comment on the nature of the observer than an explanation of the phenomenon observed, reflecting the human tendency to overlook the positive and dwell on the negative. Most of us don't really notice when everything is going fine in our lives, but as soon as something goes wrong, we think, "Why does this stuff happen to me?" In this way, the "law" lets us make fun of our own self-centeredness and negativity. A nearly identical British idiom is known as Sod's Law, the premise of which is that if something bad can happen to "some poor sod," it will [source: Murphy's Laws].

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