Sod’s Law

Sod’s Law is similar to, but broader than, Murphy’s law. It includes the idea that “anything that can go wrong, will”, for example toast will always land butter side down, as well as other components. These include the ideas that “bad fortune will be tailored to the individual” and “good fortune will occur in spite of the individual’s actions”, to generally give a sense of being mocked by fate. In these aspects it is similar to some definitions of irony, particularly the irony of fate.

Some examples of “bad fortune will be tailored to the individual”:


  • Ludwig van Beethoven’s loss of hearing – loss of hearing is bad fortune for anyone, but it is Sod’s Law that it would happen to a famous composer.
  • Adolph Coors III, who was allergic to beer, was the heir to the Coors beer empire – being allergic to beer is bad fortune for anyone (debatable!), but it is Sod’s Law that someone allergic to beer would inherit a beer empire.

And yes, there’s a mathematical formula for Sod’s Law:

A panel of experts commissioned by British Gas – a psychologist, a mathematician and an economist – has discovered the statistical formula for predicting Sod’s Law occurrences: ((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10))…

Five factors – urgency (U), complexity (C), importance (I), skill (S) and frequency (F) – have to be applied to a task or an event, and each scored between 0 and 9. A sixth, aggravation (A), was set at 0.7 by the boffins after their poll of 1,000 people. Calculating ((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10)) enables you to score a Sod’s Law probability on a scale of 0 to 8.6, with higher numbers making it more likely that bad luck is right around the corner.

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