The Atlantic

Always Have Three Beverages

The correct number of drinks to keep at your desk
Source: James Leynse / Corbis / Getty

The phrase rule of three is a Rorschach test. When people hear it, it can conjure an array of disparate guidelines. Celebrity deaths. Rhetorical technique. Aesthetic pleasure. Free markets. Joke writing. There are so many rules of three across disciplines and superstitions that the concept requires its own disambiguation page on Wikipedia, which lists 17 different options.

Some of those rules are more important than others. Pilots have one for landing airplanes that advises descending 1,000 feet every three miles to ensure that the plane doesn’t drop too quickly for passengers to adjust to changing cabin

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