No laws, no rules, just life

To everyone saying “rule of threes” with regard to Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett: there is no rule. It’s all selection bias, and nobody, no matter how well trained, is immune, because our brains are not computers.

Thank you Stephanie. I’m going to point a few people around the office to this post-haste. Sick to death of hearing this.


  1. says

    Well… I’m actually copping out on this personally. I’ve tried to explain it to two people now, and came away frustrated. I’m hoping YOU’LL be the one that makes ’em think. :)

  2. says

    I’ll try embedding this one here:


    This is one of the reasons people continue to think the number three is magic!

  3. says

    While I’ll admit Schoolhouse Rock is awesome, I have to take issue with their examples of “magical threes” — specifically “heart, mind and body” — the first two are subsets of the third! And “man and woman and baby” — what about extra kids? Or if the baby has a problem or is stillborn? Where’s the magic in that? And the mention of the “trinity” while only in passing obviously refers to the “Holy Trinity”, or is at least a throwback.

    The triangle thing is a good point, being it’s the geometric 2-D shape you can create with the least number of lines that has an actual volume.

    Also, the only rule of three that works, to my mind, is in repeating a joke. Jokes are only funny if you say them once, or repeat them three times during the course of a given speech/stand-up routine/episode. If you do it just twice, the second one falls flat. Unless it’s a variation on the theme, of course. So that’s not even a proper “rule”.

    Bah! A pox on magical thinking altogether.

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