Author: Cornish, Rick

Gumperson's Law
A while back I posted a welcome message here that had a very clear meaning and a very specific purpose. Within hours after the posting it became painfully clear that the meaning wasn’t clear at all and that the effect of the post was exactly the opposite of that intended. RecentlyI shared this story with a friend and, before I could even finish, she blurted out, “Ah, you got whacked by Gumperson's Law.” Gumperson’s Law, she explained, is this: The contradictory of a welcome probability will assert itself whenver such an event is likely to be most frustrating.

Well, this sure seemed to explain what happened to my welcome message gone awry, so I did some Internet research on Gumperson. Even though it’s a little long, I want to share it with you—it explains a whole lot about life. At least my life.

Gumperson's Law, as explained below, accounts for the fact that you can throw a burned match out the window of your car and start a forest fire, while you can use two boxes of matches and a whole edition of the Sunday paper without being able to start a fire under the dry logs in your fireplace.

Readers familiar with these matters will perhaps recognize another version of the Law: The Outcome of a Given Desired Probability will be Inverse to the Degree of Desirability.

Dr. R.F. Gumperson, internationally famous physicist, began serious work in 1938 on a phenomenon long known to scientists, but up until then considered as a mere curiosity. This was the fact that the forecasting record of the Weather Bureau, despite its use of the most advanced equipment and highly trained personnel, was not as good as that of the Farmers' Almanac. After four years of research, Dr. Gumperson enunciated his now famous law and was able to make a series of predictions later confirmed by other workers in the field. Some of the better known of these include the following:

(1) That after a raise in pay you will have less money at the end of the month than you had before.

(2) That the girl at the race track who bets according to the color of the jockey's shirt will pick more winners than the man who studied the past performance of every horse on the program.

(3) That children have more energy after a hard day of play than they do after a good night's sleep.

(4) That the person who buys the most raffle tickets has the least chance of winning the raffle.

(5) That a child can be exposed to mumps for weeks without catching them, but can catch them without exposure the day before the family vacation.

(6) That the dishwasher will break down the evening you give dinner for ten.

(7) That the parking spaces are always on the other side of the street.

Dr. Gumperson served as a consultant to the armed services during World War II and evolved the procedure whereby the more a recruit knew about a given subject, the better chance he had of receiving an assignment elsewhere.

There is no knowing to what further glittering heights Dr. Gumperson's genius could have led him had it not been for his untimely death in 1947. Strolling along the highway one evening, he was obeying the pedestrian rules of walking to the left, wearing light clothing, and facing traffic. He was struck down from behind by a Hillman-Minx, driven by an English visitor hugging the left side of the road.
Posted:  10/17/2003

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