You’ve been waiting for this day for a while now. Maybe it’s a date, a party, a life-changing test, or even your graduation. Then, before you know it, little disasters start destroying what you’ve been preparing so diligently. By the end, you conclude that the universe has conspired against you to ruin every important event in your life.
If you’re one of those people who never spills coffee on their best shirt, that day you won’t just get a few drops; you’ll find the color of your outfit turned to the pantone of latte. If you’re the person who’s always on time, you won’t just be late; you’ll wind up at the wrong address, forget to bring something important, or simply miss the entire event. It’s not about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. At times, when one thing goes wrong, it doesn’t stop there; all the different possibilities combine to create complete disaster.
Edward Murphy was a normal person. He lived a quiet life, was a successful space engineer, and, as far as we know, was relatively happy. Then one day, in 1949, his good luck came to a halt after repeating an experiment of acceleration and deceleration too many times, almost costing him his job. After all this frustration, and just before reaching insanity, he discovered that all the electrodes had been incorrectly installed. According to several accounts Murphy claimed his assistant had committed the mistake; he said, “If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will." Then other coworkers shortened it to "If it can happen, it will happen."
This sentence began to acquire popularity, being quoted in several situations. In 1955 Lloyd Mallan used in his book Men, Rockets and Space Rats in the form of “Everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong”.
While some believe this law to be false and only a negative way of excusing our misfortunes and bad decisions, there are several studies that prove how effective it is. The more time and effort a particular situation requires, the more likely it is for some inconvenience to happen. Whether you want it or not, this law will likely catch up with you one day.
You wash a pair of socks yet only retrieve one.
It’s all about probability. One day you lose one sock; then the next time you’ll lose another one. Eventually you’ll need to get a new pair of socks because you only have an odd number.
The side of toast that hits the floor is the one with the butter and jam.
In 1995, mathematical physicist Robert Matthews published a paper proving this case. According to his findings, this occurs because the height from where the toast falls does not allow enough time to flip before hitting the ground.
The queue next to us is always faster
We realize too late that we’ve chosen the slower line in the supermarket or while driving. Science and probability have noticed that if there are four queues, there’s a 75% likelihood we won’t choose the fastest one.
It rains when you’re not carrying an umbrella
Let’s say you carry an umbrella in your backpack 100 days of the year. It’s still possible for you to get rained on. Rain is a temporal and unexpected phenomenon. Also there’s always a chance that every forecast might still be proven wrong.
No matter how many times a “fact” is proven to be false, there’ll always be someone who believes it to be true
You hear a really good piece of gossip. You want it so much to be true that you choose to believe it despite the evidence. As it begins to spread like wildfire, it’s credibility is based on the amount of people who hear it. This makes a false statement on the media incredibly difficult to disprove.
You find things in the least expected spot
This is also a matter of logic. If you lose something, you can almost be sure it happened because you misplaced it. So you can bet you'll find the object in the least expected, yet most likely, place.
If something like this happens to you, just relax and remember that it all boils down to statistics and probability. It may or may not help you get out of a jam, but at least you’ll know it’s not some universal curse on you. Bad luck is just a random moment of misfortune, but it’s nothing to worry or stress about.
Some people go to great lengths to ensure their luck, such as the ones who go to the place in Indonesia referred to as “Sex Mountain”.
Translated by María Suárez