The Eponymous Principles of Management : The Murphy’s Law and Its Variants – The Sod’s Law : The Irony of Fate

The Sod’s Law – if something can go wrong, it will[1]– is broader, in the meaning and applicability, than the Murphy’s Law. It reflects more on the mockery that fate plays with a ‘sod’ – that poor chap.

The Sod’s Law is not just about things going wrong, but with the ironies of fate. ‘Life’s little ironies’, as Thomas Hardy called them. And in fact, Hardy’s novels can best be read as illustrations of the inexorability of sod’s law.

This is best illustrated by the example of the probability of the tossed coin falling ‘heads’ or ‘tails’. The 50:50 mathematical probability of coin falling heads or tails remains true with our poor chap, sod, but it falls ‘heads’ when he expects it to be ‘tails’ and falls ‘tails’ when he expects it ‘heads’. Thus, Sod’s Law states how something will go wrong just exactly when one most wants it to go right.

Murphy’s Law is an American point of view. However, since the name Murphy has a strong Irish connotation, the British side prefers to use term Sod’s Law. However, apart from this rather simplistic comparison of the two laws, if we closely read the wording of each law, we do see the relative simplicity of Murphy’s Law and has more positive and optimistic clarification by Capt. Edward A. Murphy which reads, If it can happen, it will.’” So, if things would only go wrong when they can, one can always take preventive action so that they don’t. That way. Murphy’s law provides a forceful, energetic incentive to be more careful:,

On the other hand, the close reading of Sod’s law shows it will operate however careful and energetic you are. The best that anyone can do is ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst; accept what the fate has hidden in its store. When it comes out in open accept that as it has come —preferably with a wry smile.

Of course, there are a few lucky one who always call their bet correctly, every time, much against the normally expected pattern of luck favouring a bet in any set of ‘free’ play of betting. One may even like to call it an exception to the Sod’s Law.

Also excluded form the scope of application of Sod’s Law are the ‘Black Swan’ events, events that happen extremely rarely, like scientific discoveries, historical events and artistic achievements and the like. Being extremely rare, they don’t happen often enough for to be able to work out the patterns of their occurrence, so to say, almost in random pattern. In other words, the application of the law, typically, is about the events that happen in the normal course of our lives. But if one looks back over a longer span t=of time, even these evets invariably happen, and thus do follow Sod’s Law.

The bottom line is, whether person is stupid enough not plan actions with respect to what is seen on the future or a wise one who does all possible elaborate planning to ensure that anything and everything preventable in the foreseeable future is explicitly addresses through some or other type of risk mitigation system, the world of the nature has far too many variables to make the Sod’s Law to come into play.

[1] Sod’s Law Explained