Philosophy:Yhprum's law

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Yhprum's law is the opposite of Murphy's law. The simple formula of Yhprum's law is: "Everything that can work, will work." "Yhprum" is "Murphy" spelled in reverse. Another formulation of the law, with a more realistic claim is due to Richard Zeckhauser, a professor for political economy at Harvard University, states: "Sometimes systems that should not work, work nevertheless."

Resnick et al. (2006) used this law to describe how intensive and seemingly altruistic participation by giving ranking is observed in the eBay feedback system.[1] Jøsang, in a discussion of online trust management, suggests that all similar "trust and reputation systems" are manifestations of Yhprum's law. He states the law in a similar form to Zeckhauser: "Something that shouldn't work sometimes does work."[2] Arenas et al. in a similar discussion add the adjunct "...or at least work fairly well" to the law.[3]


Although Zeckhauser is often credited with coining, the first reference to Yhprum's law may have been by Alan Abelson in the financial newspaper Barron's in December 1974.[4][5] Barron's version of the law is more in the way of a corollary to Murphy's law than its opposite: "anything that should go wrong, won't". Abelson coined the term to describe the gloomy financial predictions of the time which he thought were wrong, or at least wildly exaggerated. In Abelson's opinion, a depression only occurs when the warning signs are missed or ignored. The very act of predicting one will ensure that it does not happen.[6]


  1. Resnick, Paul; Zeckhauser, Richard; Swanson, John; Lockwood, Kate (June 2006). "The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment". Experimental Economics 9 (2): 79–101. doi:10.1007/s10683-006-4309-2. 
  2. Audun Jøsang, "Trust management in online communities", p. 87, ch. 4 in, Volker Wittke, Heidemarie Hanekop (eds), New Forms of Collaborative Innovation and Production on the Internet, Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2011 ISBN:9783863950200.
  3. Alvaro E. Arenas, Benjamin Aziz, Gheorghe Cosmin Silaghi, "Reputation management in collaborative computing systems", Security and Communication Networks, vol. 3, iss. 6, pp. 546-564, November/December 2010.
  4. Robert W. Murphy, "New fiduciary responsibilities under the Pension Reform Act of 1974", Proceedings - Seminar on the Analysis of Security Prices, vol. 20, iss. 1, pp. 73–112, Center for Research in Security Prices, May 1975.
  5. "News and Notes of AIChE", Chemical Engineering Progress, vol. 71, iss. 4, April 1975
  6. Alan Abelson, "Up & down Wall Street", Barron's pp. 1, 27–28, 9 December 1974.

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