Laws to understand the world better


When there is a learned or observed understanding on how things work in life, they usually come to see a pattern. Pattern’s purpose is to help one navigate and understand this world better. So here’s a small list of laws or fallacies that I find interesting.

Pareto Principle

  • 80/20 rule - came about in context of quality control. Can be applied in many fields. E.g
    • 80% profit comes from 20% customer
    • 80% land is owned by 20% people
    • 80% activity comes from 20% of people in the community
    • 80% of work is done by 20% of people and it goes on and on.

Sturgeon’s law

Law states that “90% of everything is crap”. All things – cars, books, cheeses, hairstyles, people, and pins etc. Generally speaking finding good is rare.

1% Rule

Only 1% of people create real content and 99% lurk around. Variant is 90-9-1 , which states 90% consume the content, 9% edit or delete the content, 1% create content


Social-Desirability Bias

Person answers a question in a way that elicits favorable view. Answer might not be the correct one.But you still say something to please the crowd and evoke a positive response.

Gambler’s Fallacy

The belief that because an event occurs more in the past, then it is less likely to occur in the future, despite the probability remaining the same

Familiarity Bias

Person resorting to what they know or comfortable with. It discourages to explore new options and limit one’s ability to find new solutions.

Conway’s Law

States that organizational structure mimics their own communication structure.

Cheops Law

Law states “Nothing ever gets built on schedule and within budget”

Zimmerman’s Law

It comes from quote of Phil Zimmermann who states that ““The natural flow of technology tends to move in the direction of making surveillance easier”, and “the ability of computers to track us doubles every eighteen months” reference

Bergmann’s Rule

Rule states that “populations and species of larger size is found in colder environments, while populations and species of smaller size are found in warmer regions.

Goodhart’s Law

The law states, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure”. For example, if an employee is rewarded by the number of cars sold each month, they will try to sell more cars, even at a loss. Refer Gaming the System. Real world example is Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

McNamara Fallacy

When a decision is made solely on the quantitative observations and ignoring others.

Read the quote below to understand this fallacy.

“The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.”

— Daniel Yankelovich, from “Corporate Priorities: A continuing study of the new demands on business” (1972).

Perverse Incentive

Incentive that has undesirable effect than the original intention behind the incentive.

Example is Cobra Effect coined by Horst Siebert which happened during British rule in India. The British government, concerned about the number of venomous cobras in Delhi, offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially, this was a successful strategy; large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising people began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped. When cobra breeders set their now-worthless snakes free, the wild cobra population further increased.

Obviously this is a small list of things. This will have part 2 and 3 as I find more. These can be paired with the mental model I wrote in the past on the topic of decision making . If you have anything let me know.

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