Breaking Murphy's Law?

October 15, 2004 ( - If you feel that you are constantly thwarted by "Murphy's Law," take heart. Researchers have figured out a formula to predict the impact of the law - before it takes hold.

The so-called Murphy’s Law holds that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and generally at the most critical time. Now, a panel of experts has provided the statistical rule for predicting the law of “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” – and it is ((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10)).

After tests of the experiences of 1000 people, experts commissioned by British Gas have discovered “things don’t just go wrong, they do so at the most annoying moment.” The experts – psychologist, a mathematician, and an economist – say the formula allows people to calculate the chances of Murphy’s (or as it is sometimes called, Sod’s) Law striking, and even try to beat bad luck.

According to The Courier-Mail, project psychologist Dr. David Lewis said: “The lesson from this is that, to cut the seemingly unbeatable Murphy’s Law gremlins down to size, you need to change one of the elements in the equation.

“So, if you haven’t got the skill to do something important, leave it alone. If something is urgent or complex, find a simple way to do it. If something going wrong will particularly aggravate you, make certain you know how to do it.”

In the calculation, five factors have to be assessed: urgency (U), complexity (C), importance (I), skill (S), and frequency (F), and each given a score between one and nine. A sixth, aggravation (A), was set at 0.7 by the experts after their poll.

Top of the most likely – and most annoying – events was spilling something down yourself before a date and the hot water heater breaking down in cold weather, followed by rush hour being worse when you’re already late.