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Legal Argument, Everyday Life, and the "Rule of Three"

Many maxims apply to guide legal arguments and everyday life. One such maxim is contained within the Rule of Three. Although consistently applied in both life and law, it is seldom, if ever, properly attributed. Yet almost every legal argument and many everyday life experiences follow the Rule of Three.   It can take the form of three words, three thoughts, three sentences, three paragraphs, three parts, three sections, etc. In legal argument the  Rule of Three goes like this - say what you are going to say, say it, and then say what you just said. More often than not, it falls under the headings, introduction, argument, and conclusion. The rationales for the Rule of Three are many.

Some say the human mind seeks patterns - three items create a pattern, two is a coincidence, and one is just chance. Others say the human mind must hear something three times in order for it to sink in.  Still, others say, there is a mystical quality to hearing something three times, hence the words “abra-kadabra-alakazam”.  Whatever rationale for its application, three sequential items of similar form fall within the Rule of Three.  And once defined, you will find the Rule of Three, confronts everyone, everywhere, in everyday life.  

Three is the only number formed from the sum of the prior three numbers 0+1+2=3.

The Rule of Three occurs throughout children's books.  There are three little pigs, three musketeers, Goldilocks, and the three bears, three mittens lost their kittens.

Life has three phases - birth, life, and death.

Stories have three parts - beginning, middle, and end.

There are three levels of government - federal, state, and local; three branches of federal and state government - executive, legislative, and judiciary; three branches of the judiciary - trial, appellate, and supreme; and three political parties - republican, democratic, and independent.  

Public safety - stop-look-listen!

In literature, three things are easy to read, easy to say, and easy to remember and are known as a tricolon, meaning three parallel words, phrases or clauses. 

The human body has three parts - head, torso, and limbs.

Exercise - bigger-better-stronger!

Every day has three parts - morning, afternoon, and night; three aspects - work, play, and sleep; three meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner, and three parts of a formal dinner - appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Every Atom has three components - Protons, electrons, and neutrons.

Advertising slogans routinely follow the Rule of Three.  Ford - “Built Ford Tough”;  Coca-Cola - “Coke is it”;  Nike - “Just do it”;  Real Estate - ”Location, location, location”;  Budweiser - “King of beers”; McDonald's - “I'm loving it”;  Kellogg's - “Snap, Crackle, Pop”; Campbell's soup - "Umm-Umm Good"; BMW - “Ultimate driving machine”; and so on……..  

There are three main Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Christ was resurrected three days after the crucifixion.

The Rule of Three governs many famous sayings.  Julius Caesar -"I came, I saw,  I conquered";  Shakespeare - “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”;   Thomas Jefferson, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”;  Abraham Lincoln - “Government of the People, by the people, for the people”'; General Douglas Macarthur - “Duty-Honor-Country”;  Martin Luther King - I have a-dream; Ronald Reagan - “Trust but Verify”  

There are three primary colors - red, yellow, and blue. 

Education is structured upon the Rule of Three.  Three levels of education - primary, secondary, and post-secondary; three branches of primary education - elementary school, middle school, and high school; three R's in education - reading, writing, arithmetic; three classes of post-secondary education - bachelor's, master's, and doctorate.  Throughout academia, it is commonplace to structure lessons around the Rule of Three, based upon the premise it takes three interactions for something to be imprinted in memory.  

Every syllogism is based upon the Rule of Three - proposition + proposition = conclusion.

Science evidences the Rule of Three.  There are three states of matter - solid, gas, and liquids.  Newton has three laws of Motion. There are three laws of thermodynamics. Geology defines three rocks - igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.

There were three wise men.

There are three dimensions.

A work of art divided into three sections is called a triptych and is appealing to the eye. 

The Rule of Three plays a major role in legal arguments and everyday life. People are comfortable with the number three. The human mind seeks patterns. three things imprint on the memory. Perhaps there is something to it, perhaps not.  But if you keep your “eyes wide open” you will see the Rule of Three everywhere. Just Google the Rule of Three and see for yourself.

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