Sturgeon's Law

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Sturgeon's Law is the name given to two different adages derived from quotes by American science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, one of which is also known as Sturgeon's Revelation.

The first is: "Nothing is always absolutely so".

The second, and more famous, of these adages is variously rendered as "Ninety percent of everything is crud" or "Ninety percent of everything is crap".

Sturgeon himself commented that it was originally the first of these that was known as "Sturgeon's Law"; the second adage was originally known as "Sturgeon's Revelation", formulated as such in his book review column for Venture.[1] However, almost all modern uses of the term "Sturgeon's Law" actually refer to the second, including the definition currently listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Both formulations of Sturgeon's Law are referenced in Theodore Sturgeon's 1972 interview with David G. Hartwell.[2]


“Nothing is always absolutely so”

This was first stated in the story “The Claustrophile” in a 1956 issue of Galaxy.[3]

“Ninety percent of everything is crud”

The first written reference to this appears in the March 1958 issue of Venture, where Sturgeon wrote:

Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.

According to Philip Klass (William Tenn), Sturgeon made this remark in about 1951, at a talk at New York University at which Tenn was present.[4] The term was subsequently popularized at a session of the World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, held over the Labor Day weekend of 1953.[5]

This formulation of Sturgeon’s Law may be regarded as an instance of the Pareto principle.

See also


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