Monday 21 November 2005

Another small step towards a Grand Unification Theory.

For many years now, my motto has been "The worst thing about being cynical is being right." This especially apples to one's interactions with other human beings, and so is occasionally reworded as "The worst thing about being paranoid is being right."

Anyway, my last post gave rise to a brief email conversation with a friend of mine about the nature of paranoia, and, thinking about it, I suddenly realised that my motto — let's call it Squander's Law — is itself a sub-class of Sod's Law. Sod's Law (known in the USA as Murphy's Law, partly because a NASA engineer named Murphy was the first to kind of formalise the law and partly because, to Americans, a sod is a big lump of earth) is usually expressed as:

If anything possibly can go wrong, it will.

It takes only a little thinking to see that Squander's Law can be stated as:

If anyone possibly can be out to get you, they will.

Since people being out to get you is a subclass of things going wrong, Squander's Law is therefore simply a special case of Sod's Law. QED.

Interestingly, experiments have shown that Sod's Law holds true except when you investigate it, at which point, of course, its failure to be true demonstrates its truth. Therefore, people will generally be out to get you unless you try to find out whether anyone's out to get you — at which point their failure to be out to get you is merely yet another way of messing with your head. The only time people aren't out to get you is when to be out to get you would be to prove you right. The moment you suspect nothing, there is everything to suspect.

So, there you have it: a rigorous scientific demonstration that paranoids are correct.

Do I get a series of Christmas lectures?

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