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In a common experience, an intermittent issue will frustrate someone for a long time, and then when s/he gets frustrated enough to spend the money and hire a professional, the symptoms of the issue will not be present. For example, a car makes a strange sound most of the time, but doesn't do it when the mechanic is around. Another example might be some intermittent medical symptom that disappears at the doctor's. The lack of ability to reliably reproduce the problem in front of an expert who might be able to fix it helps ensure that the problem will "survive" to another day.

Is there a word or few-word name for this concept?

I'm guessing that this is a phenomena perceived to be more common than it actually is.

It's almost the opposite of Murphy's Law because it's about something that can go wrong but doesn't, and it doesn't seem to fit the "simultaneous apparent opposites" that would categorize it as a "paradox" of any sort (e.g. it doesn't seem like mechanic's paradox would fit).

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    Related, but not a dupe (IMO): resistentialism. – Dan Bron Jun 13 '16 at 23:40
  • @DanBron Thanks for your comment - that is interesting and related (though I agree, not a dupe)! The answer to this question would name one sign or symptom of resistentialism. – WBT Jun 13 '16 at 23:41
  • One would seek repair because it is "broke[n]" and failing to operate correctly some significant percentage of the time, even if things occasionally work right (and by perception, those correct operations are more likely to occur in the presence of an expert who would otherwise be able to diagnose the issue). – WBT Jun 13 '16 at 23:51
  • I call it the demo effect. When you go to demonstrate something to someone it doesn't behave as you expect. – Drew Jun 14 '16 at 0:02
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In accordance with Murphy's Law, when you bring your car into the shop to get 'that noise' looked at, it (the "gremlins" inside), will undoubtedly subside until the inspection period passes. Your mechanic will then turn to you and say,

"I can't fix it, if it ain't broke."

Intermittent problems are the hardest to diagnose.

The gremlins always run away and hide when the guy with the tools shows up.

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Quantum Superposition (the Copenhagen interpretation thereof). This theory states that a quantum system (or car) remains in superposition (two simultaneous states) until it interacts with, or is observed by, the external world (your mechanic), at which time the superposition collapses into one or another of the possible definite states.

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    +1. This is closely related to Heisenbug, though I'd previously only heard/used that term applied to software. – WBT Jun 14 '16 at 0:09
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    Yeah, the old "Schrodinger's car" thing. – Hot Licks Jun 14 '16 at 0:10

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