7 laws you may not know you’re obeying and/or violating

My fellow inebriates,

Occasionally I fall into the trap of thinking I’m original. But really, I’m following a bunch of laws that everyone else is also following.

  1. Godwin’s Law

Godwin’s Law states that as any internet-based discussion or piece of rhetoric grows longer, the odds that it will mention Hitler increase, and it may descend into reductio ad Hitlerum).

I have been guilty of this.


2. Chekhov’s Gun

Anton Chekhov famously said, “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off.” In other words, all information must be relevant.

That’s Pavel, not Anton. But he is holding a gun.

I am constantly guilty of violating this law. So guilty that I can’t think of the very best example, but here’s one anyway.


3. Dilbert Principle

Dilbert comic creator Scott Adams created the Dilbert Principle to describe how companies systematically put incompetent employees on the management track to get them out of the workflow and limit their potential damage.

If I had a job, I’d be in the C-suite. In the past I’ve accused my dad of this too.


4. Gibson’s Law

According to Gibson’s Law, “for every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.” Originally this referred to the use of opposing expert witnesses in a trial (e.g., for and against tobacco industry activity).

At LBHQ it describes all sorts of disagreements about how hoppy a beer should be and what a safe number of drinks is.


5. Hofstadter’s Law

Hofstadter’s Law states that things will always take longer than you expect them to, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. It would be hypocritical, especially in this post, to fault Douglas Hofstadter for being self-referential. But he was being pessimistic when he observed that the longer AI researchers tried to make a computer that could beat a world-class chess player, the further off that goal was. In fact, Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov 20 years after this statement, and chess-playing AIs haven’t looked back.

I don’t have much use for chess unless the board looks like this.


6. Leibniz’s Law

Also called the indiscernibility principle, Leibniz’s Law states that if two objects have all properties in common, they are in fact the same object.

I have to admit I’ve struggled with this one, living as I do with the twins Scary and Fluffy.


7. Miller’s Law

Miller’s Law is all about suspending judgment. It goes: “In order to understand what someone is telling you, it is necessary for you to assume the person is being truthful, then imagine what could be true about it.” Well, take that, postmodernists! Miller is probably rolling over in his grave watching tweetstorms in which people deliberately misconstrue each other’s tweets.

I have to admit I’m bad at figuring out what people on Twitter actually mean.


What about you, my fellow inebriates? Do you have a favourite law you like to abide by or ignore?

5 thoughts on “7 laws you may not know you’re obeying and/or violating

  1. It’s hard in the US, our current political parties follow Leibniz’s Law.
    Because of Miller’s Law, I spend time assuming politicians are lying and trying to imagine what part is the lie. Per Hofstader’s Law, this always takes more of my time than I want it to. Which makes me want to grab Chekov’s gun, shoot both of Gibson’s PhDs, blame Hitler, and then go sulk in my corner office. Does this make me a bad person? I wonder. Sometimes.

  2. That is a brilliant synthesis of what was a very random post. I feel like I should be offering prizes on this website. Maybe I could send out samples of my homemade Irish cream (the samples that didn’t curdle). You are not a bad person—you are my favourite kind of person! BTW, I love your blog.

  3. That a bear with only 2 brain cells would choose to use them reading my blog is a great honour and profoundly humbling. Like the widow casting her 2 mites. FYI, if you have mites, you might want to get that checked.

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