Saturday, April 12, 2014

The 1% are nothing without the 10%

From our Another Over-simplified View of the World series.

Statements with "10 percent of this, 10 percent of that" have been following us around, creeping up on us in different contexts until TheEditor decided to give in and call it a theory.

The one statement with "10 percent" that pushed TheEditor into oversimplification land was that  left-handed folks tend to make up around ten percent of the human population.
Given the way human perception works, once you pay attention to something, it is kind of everywhere, isn't it?
So, TheEditor began to see ten percent everywhere, ending up at the big social picture for those westernized or quasi-westernized societies of the past couple hundred years or so:
The 1 percent own our lives, sure, but they need some help, and that's where the 10 percent come in.

Check the numbers, and you shall see...

You know the K-Landnews cannot be bothered to do serious fact checking, which as it turns out seems to be the way a lot of mainstream journalism is heading, so we'll throw around some numbers and leave it at that. You can do that too, for example, at the next party try something like "only ten percent of politicians are honest".

Don't some brands of religion have a "ten percent" requirement, giving the tenth?

Allegedly, you only need somewhere around 15 percent of a population to get a serious revolution going. At least that was the number in nerd circles back in the U.S.

Looking at how many people are needed to govern a country, around ten percent makes a decent number, too:
   a) Anything way above that makes for a brutal and eventually brutally inefficient dictatorship.
   b) Anything way under that makes for a sweet society eventually crushed by a).

Since you cannot talk about governing a country without running into the whole personality cult question of the recent past, take a step back.
Of course, there have been figure heads like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and many people still use them for easy explanations of big events, yet, without the ten percent (and eventually many more than ten) these guys were nothing.

If you have read the post thus far, may we ask for another minute of your time?

TheEditor claims that the top ten percent are the ones who have their cake and eat it, too. But what about the bottom ten percent?

In society at large, they don't count for very much. And scientists, statisticians, and nerds like their 95% so much that we end up talking about the bottom five percent so much more than the ten.

Remember that perfect example of corporate performance euthanasia where Yahoo made headlines for their plan to eliminate the "bottom five percent" of performers?

Small anecdote: another company did that, too. They had two performance reviews of the kind per year. 5 plus 5 equals?

Finally, our standard reality check question: does this matter, followed by the standard answer: only if you had fun reading this.

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