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