10 May 2004


In the spirit of Newton, Kepler, and Murphy, Edge asked a bunch of smart people for Laws, and got a bunch of cool responses. Here's a taste:
Miller's First Law of Offspring Ingratitude
People who don't understand genetics attribute their personal failings to the inane role models offered by their parents.

Miller's Second Law of Offspring Ingratitude
People who do understand genetics attribute their personal failings to the inane mate-choice decisions made by their parents.

Hut's First Law
Any attempt to define what is science is doomed to failure

Brand's Law
Information wants to be free.

The rest of Brand's Law
Information also wants to be expensive.

Ogilvy's Law
Many well defined manifolds lack unifying centers that define or control them.

  • Just because some things are genuinely sacred does not mean that there is a god.
  • Just because a corporation or a country seems to be hierarchically structured does not mean that any single leader is really in charge.
  • Just because some behavior is conscious and intentional does not entail a "ghost in the machine," a homunculus, or a central intender.
  • Just because evolution appears to be directional, from less order and complexity toward greater order and complexity, that does not presuppose either an alpha-designer or an omega-telos.
Bunnell's Second Law of Retrievability
Everything is stored somewhere. The secret to retrieving things is simply finding out where they are stored.

Skoyles' Law of Literacy
A society develops democracy to the degree that it writes social, legal and religious ideas using the syntax, vocabulary and pronunciation of everyday speech, rather than that of a professional, literary or dead language.

Myers Law of Writing
Anything that can be misunderstood will be.

Kelly's First Law
Power, understanding, control. Pick any two.

Rushkoff's Law of Media
True communication can only occur between people with equal access to the medium in which the communication is taking place.

Simonyi's Law of Guaranteed Evolution
Anything that can be done, could be done ''meta.''