Does Sturgeon’s Law Apply To People? I’d Say So!

by 1389 on July 8, 2011

in 1389 (blog admin), blogging, FAIL, food and drink, India, stupidity, Turkey

Atlantic Sturgeon: Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus

No, I am not claiming that anybody is required by law to supply me with caviar. (Don’t I wish!) We’re not talking about that type of sturgeon at all.

Instead, we’re talking about a rule of thumb, to wit…

Sturgeon’s Law

Sturgeon’s Revelation, commonly referred to as Sturgeon’s Law, is an adage derived from quotations by Theodore Sturgeon, an American science fiction author. While Sturgeon coined another adage that he termed “Sturgeon’s Law”, it is his “Revelation” that is usually referred to by that term. Commonly cited as “ninety percent of everything is crud” or “ninety percent of everything is crap”, the phrase was derived from Sturgeon’s observation that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality by critics, it could be noted that the majority of examples of works in other fields could equally be seen to be of low quality and that science fiction was thus no different in that regard to other art…

More here.

Theodore Sturgeon knew a thing or two about identifying crud:

Theodore Sturgeon vividly recalled being in the same room with L. Ron Hubbard, when Hubbard became testy with someone there and retorted, “Y’know, we’re all wasting our time writing this hack science fiction! You wanta make real money, you gotta start a religion!” Reportedly Sturgeon also told this story to others.

I just now happened upon a blog called India Uncut by the libertarian blogger, columnist, and poker player, Amit Varma. Among other thought-provoking essays, including a fine paean to the blogosphere, I found this:

Does Sturgeon’s Law Apply To Human Beings?

Sturgeon’s Law states that “ninety percent of everything is crud”. This is certainly true in many fields, and I myself have invoked it in the context of blogging, but today I’m wondering, is this true also of human beings? Are 90% of us stupid? Like, really stupid? Consider this news story by Reuters in Istanbul:

Turkish police donned white coats and stethoscopes to disguise themselves as doctors, then knocked on people’s doors to see how easily they would fall for a confidence scam.

The undercover police officers told residents of the southeastern city of Gaziantep they were screening for high blood pressure and handed out pills, according to Turkish media.

They were alarmed when residents at 86 out of 100 households visited on Tuesday swallowed the pills immediately.

Apparently this was the actual modus operandi of a gang that got people to pop sedatives and then robbed them. But this isn’t all.

Officers in Adana in southern Turkey last week called at houses, announcing through the intercom: “I am a burglar, please open the door.”

Police said they were stunned at the number of people who opened the door, the Radikal daily newspaper reported.

Read the rest; it’s funny.

There’s also THIS:

Cwmbran girl’s passport for toy unicorn gets her through Turkish customs

I can imagine what some of you are thinking:

“1389’s nom de guerre recalls a date in history when the Serbs fought the Ottoman Turks to a standstill. Old 1389 is just taking another cheap shot at the Turks by showing how stupid they can be.”

Guilty as charged. But then, considering that everybody, including the Turks, takes cheap shots at the Serbs, I claim the right to take them at everybody else.

And I do mean everybody. If you think you’re so much smarter than those human fish who eagerly took the bait in Amit Varma’s article, then take a long and careful look at Wikipedia’s List of cognitive biases. See how many of them apply to you!

Yeah, I thought so. Welcome to my world!

Also see:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hesperado July 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

I come at this from another angle. “Sturgeon’s Law” strikes me as being too susceptible of excessive cynicism, which is (or can often be) a Leftist form of anti-Westernism.

In this regard, Western PC MCs often disparage the Western present through statistics that supposedly reveal, for example, low intelligence among most people, variously measured. This disparagement not only tends to denigrate the present, but also the entire concept, and reality, of Western progress.

Implicit in this denigration of Western progress is an amnesia about the past. The past was no better, and in many measurable ways was worse.

Thus, to that list of “cognitive biases”, I would add the bias against the present/future in gloomy terms of “things are getting worse” — when at any time in the past, people could, and probably did, feel the same thing. This bias obscures real improvements that (Western) civilization has made, and continues to make.

2 Hesperado July 9, 2011 at 10:26 am

I liked Amit Varma’s essay on the Blogosphere.

However, on further research, he seems to be a typical PC MC Indian.

In his article, “Internet Hindus and Madrasa Muslims”, he writes:

“I see three distinct kinds of forces in Pakistan. … [the first two being the TMOEWATHI (Tiny Minority of Extremists Who Are Trying to Hijack Islam; the second being government supporters of extremists; and the third being] civil society, which wants what people everywhere want: peace, prosperity and a good future for themselves and their children. This, I believe, is most of Pakistan.”

He apparently doesn’t allow comments, but I emailed him the following, after quoting his statement above:

1) 85% of Pakistani Muslims favor segregation of men and women in the workplace

82% of Pakistani Muslims favor stoning adulterers

76% of Pakistani Muslims favor the death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam)


2) From the BBC:

“A large majority of Pakistani people support the idea that blasphemers should be punished, but there is little understanding of what the religious scripture says as opposed to how the modern-day law is codified. The response to recent events suggests that they largely believe the law, as codified by the military regime of General Zia-ul Haq back in the 1980s, is in fact straight out of the Koran and therefore is not man-made. The organised religious groups are promoting this view and have been able to mobilise mass support in their favour. Their highest point came when the assassin of Governor Salman Taseer was hailed as a hero by a large section of people across the country.”


3) 79% of Pakistani Muslim believe a person accused of “blasphemy” should not be allowed to preach to others.

65% believe that a “blasphemous” should be tried for heresy. [And what’s the penalty for a guilty verdict under Islamic hudud laws? Hm?]

69% believe a “blasphemous” book should be removed from libraries.

50% believe a “blasphemous” person should be fired from a government job.


4) Aafia iddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who once studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is suspected of having links to Al Qaeda. She was convicted by a New York court in February of trying to kill American military officers while in custody in 2008 in Afghanistan. She faces life in prison when she is sentenced in May.

In Pakistan, she has become a national symbol of honor and victimization so potent that politicians of all stripes, Islamists, the news media and an increasingly anti-American public have all lined up to champion her claim of innocence.


5) “Most Pakistanis see the United States as an enemy, consider it a potential military threat and oppose American-led anti-terrorism efforts,” Pew said.”


What were you saying again about “most of Pakistan”…?

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