Murphy Is Wyrd!

 
We all know Murphy's Law - or we think we know it, at least:

"if something can go wrong, it probably will - and at the worst possible time!"

The word 'probably' is perhaps the most important one in the entire phrase - but strangely enough, it's the one that's most often left out. It's what makes Murphy's Law so unpredictable: without it - phrased as "if something can go wrong, it will" - Murphy's Law is too predictable, too certain, to match what we actually experience of its weird workings...

And Murphy's Law is weird... is wyrd... our most common proof that the wyrd - 'the interweaving of everything, everywhere, everyone, everywhen' - is all too real. We think we can make something idiot-proof, perhaps: but somehow, from somewhere out of the wyrd, along comes a better idiot... Engineering is full of laws and theories and hypotheses, but in practice none of them is ever more than a very good guideline: the law - the only real law - is Murphy's...

Yet there's a typically weird twist to this: if Murphy's Law really is a law, then it has to apply to everything - including itself. So if Murphy's Law can go wrong, it too probably will: and since this happens most of the time, it's what gives us the illusion that the other so-called 'laws' - laws of science, of engineering, of sociology, or whatever - describe the ways that things 'really' work. It can be a dangerous illusion... as many have found to their cost!

Most of the time, we want things to be certain: life's much more comfortable that way. Unfortunately, Reality Department isn't very certain: and after the euphoria of the Victorian era, when scientists were certain that they almost knew everything about everything, we've slowly had to settle for less, and less, and less... There's now a strong tradition of uncertainty in science, beginning with Heisenberg's much-quoted Uncertainty Principle: in trying to understand the behaviour of a single quantum of light-energy, we can tell exactly where it's going, but not where it is (as a wave), or be entirely certain about where it is, but have no idea where it's going (as a particle) - we cannot know both at the same time. A particle can be in two places at once, because it's also a wave travelling between those two points; split the particle in half, destroy one of the sub-parts, and the other one will probably disappear too... weird...

Add in a few of the more recent theories and practical experiments, and life gets more than a bit weirder. Despite many people's hopes, modern chaos mathematics does not make uncertainty predictable again: it just makes the degree of uncertainty more certain. The much-discussed 'Butterfly Effect' proves that the Victorian dream of ultimate control is an impossible myth: in true chaotic systems, there are often the semblances of certainty - the so-called 'attractors' within the pattern - but ultimately anything can change the entire of reality at any moment. That it generally doesn't is because Murphy's Law applies mostly to itself: for most of Reality Department, for most of the time, most things stay much as they are.

Even then, there's more than tradition and anecdotal evidence to suggest that Reality Department is a lot weirder than we'd expect. The steady flow of information supporting the Gaia Hypothesis - the concept that our world may be understood as a self-regulating entity - grows by the day; and as the biologist Rupert Sheldrake demonstrated, in his book Seven Experiments That Could Change The World, the real weirdness in our reality can be found not just in abstruse experiments in nuclear physics, but in ordinary, everyday experiences such as the tower-building of termites or the homing abilities of pigeons.

So the world is weird: so what? Yeah, Murphy's Law is a real law - but so what? Ah, therein lies another weird twist...

We know that the world is weird - is probably weirder than we can ever know. So why not just let it be that way? Because if Murphy's Law really is a law - and therefore applies to itself - we can turn that twisted Law back in on itself, like a Möbius loop, and change it from a problem to a new and powerful way to work with the world:

"things can go right if we let them - but if we only allow things to work in expected ways, we're limiting our chances..."

That's what we call 'Inverse Murphy' - and yes, it's weird all right... It's also wyrd - working with the wyrd as it is, rather than as we might expect it to be. Which is why it works... Look around at your own life: in what ways do you 'limit your chances', by trying to force things to work only in expected ways? As the old phrase goes, "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got" - and then wonder why nothing's changed...

So try inviting the wyrd twists of Inverse Murphy into your life for a while: he may be a bit of a strange character, with a rather upside-down view on life, but he can be a great deal of help at times...!