September 16, 2021

Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of Everything Is Crap

Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of Everything Is Crap
Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of Everything Is Crap

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Sturgeon’s law states “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” The saying came from the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon came to the conclusion that even though science fiction was criticized at the time (1951) for its low quality it was true for all fields. The majority of work in all professions were also low quality. The science fiction genre was not different than any other endeavor.

And on that hangs Sturgeon’s revelation. It came to him that [science fiction] is indeed ninety-percent crud, but that also—Eureka!—ninety-percent of everything is crud. All things—cars, books, cheeses, hairstyles, people and pins are, to the expert and discerning eye, crud, except for the acceptable tithe which we each happen to like. –  Venture magazine September 1957. 

Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crud.

Corollary 1: The existence of immense quantities of trash in science fiction is admitted and it is regrettable; but it is no more unnatural than the existence of trash anywhere.

Corollary 2: The best science fiction is as good as the best fiction in any field. – Venture magazine March 1958

The lesson here for traders, investors, entrepreneurs, and people seeking success in any professional endeavor is that it is not unusual to see failure with 90% of people or poor quality from 90% of the content produced. It is not unusual for 90% of traders to fail to be profitable, as the majority just don’t do their homework, create a strategy with an edge, use proper position sizing, or stay disciplined. If we were able to go back to the very beginning of aspiring athletes, doctors, lawyers, and politicians we would likely see an approximate 90% failure rate that never made it until the end goal. The fact that we can see so much failure in things like trading, small businesses, and new restaurants for example is because the path is so much shorter to observe. 

When we see success we are looking at the 10% of quality execution and ignoring the 90% of poor quality of execution crap.