The Truth About Lost Socks


lost sock memorial day May 9th is Lost Sock Memorial Day.


Today is International Lost Sock Memorial Day. It is something that we all have experienced, that worldwide phenomena of the odd sock. People find a random solitary sock in the washing machine, tumble dryer or laundry basket and scratch their heads in bewilderment. Where did it come from? Why is it there? More importantly, where is the other one?

Lost sock by

The Whirlpool Institute, yes, the washing machine manufacturers and  it’s a real place; gives three possible explanations for this.

  1. The sock didn’t complete the journey to the machine so it’s under the bed, or sofa.
  1. In an overloaded machine it has fallen inside the drum.
  1. The static cling generated by the spin of the machine has forced the sock into a sleeve, pants leg or sleeve of a t-shirt or top.

These theories only looked at one view of this regular every day occurrence. Stopping the loss of socks. However one in 2006, Dr. Lucas Emil, a systems biologist, in attempting to associate an individual’s DNA with the behavioral trait of carelessness he discovered something odd.

To measure how careless an individual was, he measured the reported incidence of lost socks over the actual socks washed to find the real occurrence of lost socks giving a lost sock ratio. The idea was to prove that more socks a person lost, the more careless the person was. He was sadly mistaken.

Reported Incidence of Lost Socks ÷   = Lost Sock Percentage
Number of Actual Washed Socks    



More than 87% of participant said they had lost socks but actually they 93% had gained socks. He was so surprised he did the experiment again with stricter conditions, different nationalities and got the same statistics of 80% saying they lost socks but 90% gaining socks.

Wow! Why did people think they were losing socks? After more tests Dr Emil came to the conclusion that people always interpreted the finding of an odd sock as evidence of a loss. He labeled it as The Lost Sock Fallacy.

In 6 months if they found 6 socks and lost 2, the net gain of 4 socks. This means that they now have 8 odd socks and see them as proof of a loss. No matter how many socks that are found so long as they were unpaired they would wonder about their missing lost counterparts and think of them as lost.

lost socks by sweet

This theory has obviously shaken the world of phase transition theory, non-Elucidation geometry, and RNA nanotechnology. Also it has been noted in the decisions of Air Traffic Controllers, Stock Analysts and more.

This is proof of how generally people’s perception is always to look for the negative, even when there is evidence to prove otherwise! Think of this when you pull out your next random sock. The universe is giving you something for nothing. Now that’s lucky!


Ref. Steven Clifford for The Huffington Post 16 / 3 /2010

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