Inverse consequences

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The term "inverse consequences" [1] or the "Law of Inverse Consequences" [2] refers to results that are the opposite of the expected results as initially intended or planned. [2] One consequence is in the "reverse predicament" of the other. [1]



The term "inverse consequences" has been in use for over 175 years (since at least 1835). [1] The term was also used by Auguste Comte (1798–1857) in his book System of Positive Polity (published 1875), stating, "Inevitable increase in Complication, in proportion with the decrease of Generality, gives rise to two inverse consequences." [3]

Auguste Comte French philosopher

Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte was a French philosopher and writer who formulated the doctrine of positivism. He is often regarded as the first philosopher of science in the modern sense of the term. Comte is also seen as the founder of the academic discipline of sociology.

Documented examples

The term "inverse consequences" has been applied in numerous situations, for example:

Opiate class of drugs derived from opium

Opiate is a term classically used in pharmacology to mean a drug derived from opium. Opioid, a more modern term, is used to designate all substances, both natural and synthetic, that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Opiates are alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant Papaver somniferum. The psychoactive compounds found in the opium plant include morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Opiates are considered drugs with moderate to high abuse potential and are listed on various "Substance-Control Schedules" under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of the United States of America.

Morphine Pain medication of the opiate family

Morphine is a pain medication of the opiate family which is found naturally in a number of plants and animals. It acts directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to decrease the feeling of pain. It can be taken for both acute pain and chronic pain. It is frequently used for pain from myocardial infarction and during labor. It can be given by mouth, by injection into a muscle, by injection under the skin, intravenously, injection into the space around the spinal cord, or rectally. Maximum effect is reached after about 20 minutes when given intravenously and after 60 minutes when given by mouth, while duration of effect is 3–7 hours. Long-acting formulations also exist.

Asset management refers to systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for, over their whole life cycles. It may apply both to tangible assets and to intangible assets. Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner.

The concept of "inverse consequences" has a corollary in other phrases, as well:

A corollary is a statement that follows readily from a previous statement.


A back-fire or backfire is combustion or an explosion produced by a running internal combustion engine that occurs in the air intake system rather than inside the combustion chamber. Unburnt fuel that is ignited in the exhaust system can produce loud sounds even if flames are not present at the tailpipe. This is called an afterburn or after-fire since a backfire occurs through the intake system. A visible flame may momentarily shoot out of the exhaust pipe under some conditions. Either condition may cause a loud popping noise and usually indicates an improperly tuned engine.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 The Philosophy of Manufactures: Or, An Exposition (on factory systems), Andrew Ure, 1835, page 434 of 480 pages, Google Books link: booksGoogle-AU: states "the influence of which upon them will be manifested by inverse consequences; the one being in the reverse predicament of the other."
  2. 1 2 "Chatham County Center: Green Thumb Prints Newsletter 2007 Index",, May 2007, webpage: NCSU-law.
  3. System of Positive Polity: Social statics (on positivism), Auguste Comte, 1875, page 376, Google Books link (PDF 11.8mb): books-Google-AC: states "inevitable increase in Complication in proportion with the decrease of Generality, gives rise to two inverse consequences."
  4. "Neuron : Experimental Genetic Approaches to Addiction", A. Laakso, 2002, webpage: doi : 10.1016/S0896-6273(02)00972-8: states "exposure to psychostimulants such as cocaine leads to sensitized response; long-term treatment with opiates (such as morphine) also has inverse consequences".
  5. "Managing and Organizing the Cooperation in Design Processes" M. David, PDF file: Inria-fr-COOP2004-PDF.
  6. "The Infinite Asset: Managing Brands to Build New Value" (on business & economics), Sam Hill, Chris Lederer, 2001, 238 pages, Google Books link: books-Google-SH: states "...managers must understand and anticipate inverse consequences every bit as much as they preach the potential benefits of their action plans."

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