Thursday, December 31, 2009

Law of Unintended Consequence from an Outsider's View

(Note: an outsider’s viewpoint only. I’m not an expert)

Law of Unintended Consequences – “a humorous expression in common use according to which any purposeful action will produce some unintended, unanticipated, and usually unwanted consequences.” (Rob Norton). Rob Norton, freelance writer, also added that this law states that “actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.”

I first encounter this principle when I watched one of the episodes of Numb3rs. I can still remember that one of the main protagonists, Prof. Charlie Eppes, stated this. When I first heard the phrase “law of unintended consequences”, I have my own interpretation on its meaning. However, the curiousity in me dictate that I must verify it through references. Voila. It’s quite similar to what I have thought.
This is not a true scientific law. This is, in fact, a humorous expression. In fact, some writers This “law” is used in social science, and to certain cases, economics. Normally, you do things to make something, or things, happen. However, we’re living in an imperfect world. Thus, when we do something, there are unintended consequences, be it positive or negative. The x-ray, for example, is discovered by accident.

There are people who wanted to do something bad to other people, but in the process, the recipient of the bad deed is the people that they don’t want to receive the bad deed. One of the classic examples I know is when a group of bullies wanted to pull a prank to a class nerd. Upon the process, the class nerd, unknown to him, didn’t receive the prank. Instead, the recipient of the prank is the school principal! Thus, they were sent to the office and was given a disciplinary action. They never intended to pull pranks on the principal, but upon the process, they just did.

My point? Never ever do something bad to other people, you can never tell who will receive the bad deed. Worst, the recipient may hit you back BIG TIME. Even more, the unintended recipient may be someone close to your heart. When that happens, are you good enough to admit that that bad deed you planned to do is wrong in the first place or you’ll resort to lame excuses, denials and further manipulation (claiming it is coincidence or irrelevant)? Take your pick. Those choices will pack a punch anyway. There is such a thing called unintended consequence.

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