The "Law of Unintended Consequences" is a ringing rhetorical phrase, but what does it mean? Mostly, not much. When somebody does something, things result that weren't wished for.

And? The point? No one can foresee outcomes with perfect accuracy, particularly not in complex circumstances. "The Law" doesn't seem to have much (if any) predictive power. And it's universally applied to condemn (or poke fun at) disfavored actions, not inactions --- even though inactions are at least as likely to produce poor effects.

A less poetic but better statement of cosmic truth: "Stuff happens" ...

TopicScience - TopicHumor - 2003-06-10

Oh, I dunno. Seems to me that LoUC has one further snippet of meaning than SH, namely that the person doing whatever hasn't thought through the causality or allowed for consequences. The SH view is rather acausal, and doesn't even require that anyone actually does anything at all -- stuff just happens, regardless. I don't believe that SH reflects any cosmic truth at all, except perhaps indirectly the inability or unwillingness to consider that actions have consequences. -- Bo Leuf

(correlates: MissionStatement, CosmicChaos, MoveOn, ...)