Monday, October 16, 2006

Repealing the Law of Gravity

I don't care whether Richard Dawkins coined it or not, I don't like the word "meme" and so I have no intention of propagating its usage.

However, a question that is currently doing the rounds is: "Which law would you like to break?"

The title of this post hints at the usual, unimaginative, answer to such a question.

I much preferred the answer that Gavin Ayling reported someone had given:

“I would love to break the law of unintended consequences but there would probably be a down side I hadn’t counted on…”



Andrew Ferrier said...

Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

Richard Brown said...

Nice :-)

That should be taught on all project management projects.

Actually, I suspect Hofstadter's Law is another example of the more general problem that people adjust their behaviour.... add slack into a plan and people will relax a little.... put airbags in a car and people will drive a little more riskily, etc, etc

Andrew Ferrier said...


Incidentally, if you've never read any of Hofstadter's work, give it a look - plenty of food for the mind. GEB is a good place to start.

Richard Brown said...

Thanks Andrew. Hofstafter is another of those authors I dismissed while at school (or perhaps it was my first year at university). Everybody else had read it so I chose to be "different" by not reading it.

I made the same mistake with Richard Dawkins and have only belatedly discovered his brilliance.

Andrew Ferrier said...

Hmm, we may have to agree to disagree on that one. Last time I read Richard Dawkins I thought he was a little too arrogant, and I was put off. Maybe I should give him another chance. His fervent anti-religiousity is certainly interesting (on the subject of which, I have some interesting observations on a recent Econtalk podcast about religion, but that's a subject for a blog post sometime...)

Richard Brown said...

He can come across as arrogant at times but the clarity of his prose and his arguments makes up for it in my opinion.

I haven't read his most recent book, however.