Murphy's Laws???

Tobias D. Robison robison at eosp1.UUCP
Fri Nov 2 03:19:54 AEST 1984

This is an APB of great general interest.  It concerns that most
mysterious figure of modern times -- Murphy.  Here's the background:

There have been several notes on the net recently about a book,
"A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown", a collection of
Science Humor edited by Robert A. Baker, and published in 1963 by
Prentice-Hall.  So I got it out of the library to reread.  The very
first piece presents a number of "laws" that I am sure you will

	If anything can go wrong, it will.

	If anything just can't go wrong, it will anyway.

	When things are going well, something will go wrong.

	When things just can't get any worse, they will.

	Anytime things appear to be going better, you have overlooked

The author of this piece, Francis P. Chisolm, describes these as
CHISOLM'S LAWS.  His piece is republished from something entitled
"Motive" (no date given), and the piece is called "The Chisolm Effect".

The piece quotes from something published in 1958.  The piece itself
is referenced in another item in SAOASEG (Joel Cohen, "On the Nature
of Matehmatical Proof") dated 1961.  So apparently Chisolm's laws
were published between 1958 and 1961.  Today we know these
(universally?) as Murphy's laws.

When did Murphy become the author?  Is Chisolm the real author?  How
did he come to be forgotten?  Why isn't he (or why aren't his heirs)
fighting to recover his authorship?  Could it be (as my daughter
Naomi suggested) that: SOMETHING WENT WRONG?

Please provide information, if you have any.  If I don't receive any
hard info soon, I shall try to contact Chisolm, so I would appreciate
any info from someone who knows (of) him.  I will summarize
data sent to me.  I suggest that public discussion (if any) continue
in net.books.

(I rarely post a note to more than one newsgroup.  I thought this
note was worth a wider posting to solve the mystery.  I hope you agree
it was worth seeing more than once, if that's the way your news program

  - Toby Robison
  or: decvax!ittvax!eosp1!robison
  alternate: princeton!eosp1!robison

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