When you read a headline that reports Investigation Into Deaths After Keyhole Surgery, do you think – Well I never, it seems that a tiny minority of surgeons are not quite as brilliant as they and politicians and journalists generally think they are? Or do you think – Frankly, I’m not surprised, seeing as most surgeons choose their careers in order to appear glamorous and heroic while making a lot of money, rather than because they were born with the subtle skills required and were ordered by God not to waste them?
I react along the latter lines to an awful lot of news stories, which is why I was an irritation to news editors for so many years. Time and again, I find myself reaching for the Rule of Shit, which I have just dug up again from a previous blog, in preparation for a sometime essay on its inspirational message.
It is listed in Wikipedia as Sturgeon’s Law, named after Theodore Sturgeon, an American science fiction writer, who was speaking to an audience back in the 1950s when somebody challenged him to deny that 90 percent of sci-fi was pretty awful. Sturgeon, by all accounts, pushed his glasses up his nose and said he could not, but, then, so was 90 percent of ballet and opera. Pleased with the perception, he later argued in one of his stories that the same rule applied to all human endeavour and Sturgeon’s Law is usually summed up as “90 percent of everything is crap”.
Most of us know this to be true and are bored by the endless outrage newspapers manage to work up at the daily proof of it.