Discover more from De Civitate
I run into various laws on the Internet. Sometimes I have a hard time finding them again later. In this post, I will collect some of them, chiefly for my own reference but also because several of them are funny. The list may grow over time.
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
Johnson's First Law of Episcopal Thermodynamics
Every joke you make about the Episcopal Church eventually comes true.
In writing, it is impossible to tell a parody of extremism apart from actual extremism.
(The original formulation was narrower.)
Parkinson's Law of Triviality (The Bicycle-Shed Effect)
The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum of money involved.
"Parkinson provides the example of a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant spending the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important and a far more difficult and complex task." -wiki
Jones's Bicycle-Shed Corollary
The more people understand something, the more willing they are to argue about it, and the more vigorously they will do so.
Dreher's Law of Merited Impossibility
It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of LGBTQ rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.
Cargill's Law (The 90-90 Rule)
In any software development project, the first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.
Campbell's Law (aka the Law of Teaching to the Test)
The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.
However, one Charles Porterfield Krauth may be better credited with this law, as he wrote in 1872:
"Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points."
Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn't give you the key, they're not doing it for your benefit.
Betteridge's Law of Headlines
Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no."
Gentlemen avoid the excluded middle.
Martha’s Law of Vehicle Seating
The littlest takes the middlest; that's just the rules.
The standard is not perfection. The standard is the alternative.
Permanent majorities aren't; emerging majorities don't.
(Possibly derived from Osborn's Law.)
Conquest's Three Laws of Politics
Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.
The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question; it's to post the wrong answer.
In the heat of battle, even serious scientists sometimes cannot resist “overlooking” some data that seriously undermine their pet theory.
(attributed to Sydney Brenner; this formulation by Daniel Dennett)
You never see prosecutors announce a murder conviction by saying “this murderer violated the very important law against murder.” Any time a regulator has to say explicitly that a rule is “very important,” that’s because he has some doubts.
If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.
...which seems like a good one to end this post on.
UPDATE 20 July 2020: Added some laws.
UPDATE 22 August 2020: Added some laws.
UPDATE 15 September 2020: Added Occam's Broom.
UPDATE 9 March 2022: Added Hodes' Law. (h/t Rachel Lu)
UPDATE 26 Sepetember 2022: Added Thane's Law and Heal’s Law (h/t master-thief)
UPDATE 1 October 2022: Added Levine’s Law.