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Effective Ways For Companies To Avoid Murphy’s Law

Harvey L. Pitt | November 29, 2005

In 1949, an engineer at Edwards Air Force Base created a harness for a rocket-powered sled designed to test how much acceleration and deceleration a human being could tolerate. Unfortunately, the test failed and the sled’s passenger was temporarily blinded. The engineer, Captain Edward A. Murphy Jr., later discovered the cause of the failure: improper wiring. Exasperated, Captain Murphy snidely observed—apparently, to no one in particular—that if there were two ways to do something, and one way could result in catastrophe, the route that would produce disaster would invariably be chosen. According to the military publication Desert Wings, Murphy’s Air Force colleagues heard his protracted harangue and adopted it as their mantra. Before long, “Murphy’s Law” entered the common American vernacular; the term became a dictionary entry nine years later, in 1958.

Murphy’s Law—or whatever it’s called, for surely it existed long before Captain...

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