Posts tagged ‘Law’

October 28, 2021

Sayre’s Law

Sayre's law

Sayre’s law states, in a formulation quoted by academic economist and historian Charles Philip Issawi: ‘In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.’

By way of corollary, it adds: ‘That is why academic politics are so bitter.’ Sayre’s law is named after Wallace Stanley Sayre (1905–1972), U.S. political scientist and professor at Columbia University.

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January 31, 2021

Brandolini’s Law


Brandolini’s law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage which emphasizes the difficulty of debunking bullshit: ‘The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it.’

It was publicly formulated the first time in January 2013 by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer. Brandolini stated that he was inspired by reading Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ right before watching an Italian political talk show with journalist Marco Travaglio and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attacking each other.

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October 20, 2015

Okrent’s Law

false balance

Merchants of Doubt

Daniel Okrent (b. 1948) is an American writer and editor. He is best known for having served as the first public editor of the ‘New York Times’ newspaper, for inventing ‘Rotisserie League Baseball’ (fantasy baseball), and for writing several books, most recently ‘Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,’ which served as a source for the 2011 Ken Burns miniseries on the subject.

The job of the public editor is to supervise the implementation of proper journalism ethics at a newspaper, and to identify and examine critical errors or omissions, and to act as a liaison to the public. At the ‘New York Times,’ the position was created in response to the Jayson Blair scandal. In an interview he made about his new job, Daniel formulated what has become known as ‘Okrent’s law‘: ‘The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true.’ He was referring to the phenomenon of the press providing legitimacy to fringe or minority viewpoints in an effort to appear even-handed.

September 4, 2013

Law of Complexity/Consciousness

The Law of Complexity/Consciousness is the tendency in matter to become more complex over time and at the same time to become more conscious. The law was first formulated by 20th century Jesuit priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who held that at all times and everywhere, matter is endeavoring to complexify upon itself, as observed in the evolutionary history of the Earth.

Matter complexified from inanimate matter, to plant life, to animal-life, to human-life. Or, from the geosphere, to the biosphere, to the noosphere (of which humans represented, because of their possession of a consciousness which reflects upon themselves). As evolution rises through the geosphere, biosphere, and noosphere, matter continues to rise in a continual increase of both complexity and consciousness.

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May 29, 2013

Poe’s Law

Poe's Law

Poe’s law is an Internet adage reflecting the idea that without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism. A corollary of Poe’s law is the reverse phenomenon: sincere fundamentalist beliefs can be mistaken for a parody of those beliefs.

The statement was formulated in 2005 by Nathan Poe on the website in a debate about creationism. The original sentence read: ‘Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake [it] for the genuine article.’

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April 17, 2013

Yerkes–Dodson Law


The Yerkes–Dodson law is an empirical relationship between arousal and performance, originally developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908. The law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases. The process is often illustrated graphically as a curvilinear, inverted U-shaped curve which increases and then decreases with higher levels of arousal.

Research has found that different tasks require different levels of arousal for optimal performance. For example, difficult or intellectually demanding tasks may require a lower level of arousal (to facilitate concentration), whereas tasks demanding stamina or persistence may be performed better with higher levels of arousal (to increase motivation).

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February 7, 2013

Sturgeon’s Law

Sturgeon’s revelation, commonly referred to as Sturgeon’s law, is an adage commonly cited as ‘ninety percent of everything is crap.’ It is derived from quotations by Theodore Sturgeon, an American science fiction author.

The phrase was derived from Sturgeon’s observation that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality by critics, it could be noted that the majority of examples of works in other fields could equally be seen to be of low quality and that science fiction was thus no different in that regard to other art.

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February 5, 2013

The 48 Laws of Power

48 laws

The 48 Laws of Power‘ (2000) is the first book by American author Robert Greene. The book, an international bestseller, is a practical guide for anyone who wants power, observes power, or wants to arm himself against power, and is popular with famous rappers, entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes and actors including 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Dov Charney, Brian Grazer, Chris Bosh, and Will Smith. ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ is taught in business management classes and is one of the most requested books in American prison libraries.

The 48 Laws of Power are a distillation of 3,000 years of the history of power, drawing on the lives of strategists and historical figures like Niccolò Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, and P.T. Barnum. The book is intended to show people how to gain power, preserve it, and defend themselves against power manipulators.

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January 28, 2013

First Law of Holes

The First law of holes is a proverb attributed to British politician Denis Healey. It states, ‘If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.’

The meaning behind this proverb is that if you find yourself in an undesirable situation (‘the hole’), such as an argument with others, you should not ignore the situation or attempt to continue what you were doing (the ‘digging’), as it can make the situation worse. It has been cited numerous times by other politicians and in books.

December 5, 2012

Three Laws of Robotics

The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story ‘Runaround,’ although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories.

The Three Laws are: ‘A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. These form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov’s robotic-based fiction, appearing in his ‘Robot’ series, the stories linked to it, and his ‘Lucky Starr’ series of young-adult fiction.

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November 5, 2012

Duverger’s Law

party animals

In political science, Duverger’s law is a principle which asserts that a plurality rule election system (voters vote for one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins) tends to favor a two-party system. This is one of two hypotheses proposed by French sociologist and politician Maurice Duverger, the second stating that ‘the double ballot majority system and proportional representation tend to multipartism.’

Duverger observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a ‘law’ or principle.

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August 26, 2012

Open Container Laws

Drinking in public

In the United States, open container laws regulate or prohibit the existence of open containers of alcohol in certain areas. Typically these laws concern public places, such as parks and vehicles. The purpose of these laws is to restrict public intoxication, especially the dangerous act of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Open container laws are state laws, rather than federal laws; thus they vary from state to state.

The vast majority of U.S. states and localities prohibit possessing and/or consuming an open container of alcohol in public places, such as on the street. However, the definition of ‘public place’ is not always clear. California is unique in that it does have a state law on the books, but similar to states that have no law, the state law only applies to areas that the ‘city, county, or city and county have enacted an ordinance’ in. Open container restrictions are not always rigorously enforced, and open containers may in fact be legally permitted in nominally private events which are open to the public. This is especially true in downtown districts and during holidays and sporting events and tailgate parties.

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