Finagle's law

Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives (also known as Finagle's corollary to Murphy's Law) is usually rendered:

Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment

One variant (known as O'Toole's Corollary of Finagle's Law) favored among hackers is a takeoff on the second law of thermodynamics (also known as entropy):

The perversity of the Universe tends towards a maximum.

The term "Finagle's Law" was first used by John W. Campbell, Jr., the influential editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later Analog). He used it frequently in his editorials for many years in the 1940s to 1960s but it never came into general usage the way Murphy's Law has.

In the Star Trek episode "The Ultimate Computer", Dr. McCoy refers to an alcoholic drink known as the "Finagle's Folly," apparently a reference to "Finagle's Law." In Season 2, Episode 1 ("Amok Time", 1967), Captain Kirk tells Spock, "As one of Finagle's Laws puts it: 'Any home port the ship makes will be somebody else's, not mine.'"

Eventually the term "Finagle's law" was popularized by science fiction author Larry Niven in several stories depicting a frontier culture of asteroid miners; this "Belter" culture professed a religion and/or running joke involving the worship of the dread god Finagle and his mad prophet Murphy.[1]

"Finagle's Law" can also be the related belief, "Inanimate objects are out to get us," also known as Resistentialism. [2][3] Similar to Finagle's Law is the verbless phrase of the German novelist Friedrich Theodor Vischer: "die Tücke des Objekts" (the perfidy of inanimate objects).

A related concept, the "Finagle factor", is an ad hoc multiplicative or additive term in an equation which can only be justified by the fact that it gives more correct results.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Finagle's Law". http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/F/Finagles-Law.html. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  2. ^ Moore, Omar K.; Anderson, Alan R. (1962). "Some Puzzling Aspects of Social Interactions". In Criswell, Joan; Solomon, Herbert; Suppes, Patrick, editors. Mathematical Methods in Small Group Processes. Stanford University Press. p. 235. ISBN 0804701164. http://books.google.com/books?id=RjCsAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA235. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  3. ^ Ritter, Lawrence S.; Silber, William L. (1977). Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets (2nd ed.). Basic Books. p. 460. ISBN 0-465-06337-3. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Murphy's law — For other uses, see Murphy s Law (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Muphry s law. Murphy s law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong . Contents 1 History 2 Association with Murphy …   Wikipedia

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