Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 5% Rule




Although my 2007 attempt to become a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was unsuccessful, I am thankful to that show for helping me to formulate a rule concerning something I continually see in real life. I call it The 5% Rule. Here's how it works:

In any large group of people, 5% will be assholes.

(If one wishes to delineate further, the assholes can be broken down into subcategories: stupid assholes, vapid assholes, and mean assholes. Only someone such as I [an anal asshole, department of redundancies department] would feel the need to do such a thing, so, of course, I'm going to do it.)

I first learned of this phenomenon while watching Millionaire. On the show, contestants are given multiple choice questions, with four possible answers - A, B, C, or D. If a contestant feels unsure about answering a particular question, he or she has options in acquiring help to do so. One of the options is for the studio audience to be polled concerning how they would answer the question. Way more often than not, the answer given by the majority of the audience turns out to be the right answer. However, without fail, the least probable of the four answers was chosen by approximately 5% of those in the audience.

Choosing the wrong answer on a quiz doesn't automatically confer assholedom upon you. But, some of the answers chosen by the 5% were patently absurd, often put there by the writers as comic relief and obviously not meant to be seriously considered. Still, 5% of the crowd decided to choose that answer.

The reasons they would have given concerning why they chose such an answer would no doubt be informative, but - so far as I know - nobody has ever done follow-up interviews with those audiences asking them that question. Too bad. Here's my best guess.

Stupid - Some folks would no doubt honestly feel that the ridiculous answer was the right answer, so they'd be the stupid assholes.

However, the main reason for giving the answer, in my as-humble-as-I-can-be-while-calling-people-assholes opinion, is generally either vapid or mean.

Vapid - The person feels that the ridiculous answer is funny, and he/she wishes to be seen as funny, too, so the feeling is that by choosing that answer, the ability to be funny has become theirs as well as the writer who came up with it.

*BZZZZZZZZZT*

Nope. Laughing at something funny is no problem. Self-identifying as funny because you feel that giving a funny answer written by someone else actually makes you funny is sad. Welcome to Assholeland! Population: 5%

Mean - The person truly wishes to give the contestant the worst imaginable answer. This subset of asshole is, by far, the worst. Not only is this person an asshole, he or she is quite possibly intelligent enough to recognize that he or she is one, but still remains one even after that recognition. I am in favor of legislation which would allow the removal of their reproductive organs in as painful a manner as is possible. Maybe with a hatchet.

(I know, I know. It would never become law. That's only because so many assholes are currently serving as elected officials. Oddly enough, the 5% rule is exactly opposite when it comes to politicians. Only 5% are NOT assholes.)

Now, one has to be careful when one starts throwing around pejoratives such as "asshole". It usually needs to be qualified. The possibility of being an asshole must sometimes be seen in relation to the surroundings. For instance, the United States of America is composed of 50 states. If the 5% rule holds, one would expect to find either 2 or 3 in that bunch of 50 which qualify as asshole states. And one does, too. However, if you're from the northeast, the asshole states are generally seen as Florida and Texas. If you're from the south? California, New York, and Massachusetts. Assholery is relative, as many people find out over the holidays.

Another example? Baseball teams. There are 25 men on the roster at most times. Therefore, there will usually be 1 or 2 assholes in the group. If you've been following the Red Sox for the past decade, it was either Manny Ramirez or Curt Schilling - or both. If the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez was usually the obvious choice, but the stink of Roger Clemens wasn't easy to hide, either.

More? OK. Take a look at this poll over at Universal Hub. See the bottom two choices? They added up to 5% when I first linked this, but close enough in any case. Easy to see that those who chose the bottom option probably are benignly vapid. Ho Ho! What's a crucifix? I vote for funny! The other option? Possibly intelligent, probably uncaring concerning any other human being's feelings. Assholes? When compared to the peaceful choices possible, and made by the other respondents, yes.

(I feel I should point out that I didn't post that poll to prove my theory. However, when the results were in, it reminded me of it.)

I could go on, but you get the point, and only an asshole keeps on explaining after his point has been made.

By the way, if you leave a comment and there are 19 other comments that seem reasonable and friendly... well, you know. Of course, if one of the comments is mine, you have nothing to worry about.

Soon, with more better stuff.


31 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

El.Oh.El. I'm never disappointed when I come here! 5%, eh? Thought the post title was touting my DH's personal theory of restaurant tipping. (Yeah, I add to it when he's not looking!) :)

Granny on the Web said...

I'm going to lie down in a darkened room... I feel ill.

:-(

lime said...

i think your 5% principle makes perfect sense...although i do feel i have encountered a disproportionate number of assholes in my life.

i beati said...

I am probably the a hole comment- but in all my years of teaching as the years progressed more and more parents were....... and I must say though I was quite an adept mediator , kind, and a schmooozer,etc., I fear in all realistic terms the number 5 per cent is too low...sorry

Katney said...

I think ibeati may be right.

Chris said...

Nice work as usual, Sully. Being a Yankee fan, though, I gotta go with Sheffield as a recent Yank-hole. On the current roster, I'm inclined to agree with you on A-rod. I just can't get behind that guy.

Chris Stone said...

"In any large group of people, 5% will be assholes."

yep. totally agree. yep. (redundancy asshole here!)

jinksy said...

So glad I got in before the number 19, then. Luckily, I know nothing about American Arseholes, therefore hesitate to offer an opinion. Might have to contest the percentage in England, but I leave it up to the individual to deduce whether my figure would be higher or lower...

Carolina said...

Okay, so 5% are assholes. And is this a group of men and women? And what is the percentage of women? It's just...I feel that being an asshole is a male prerogative. I know there must be a good word to describe the female assholes, who undoubtedly exist (I know quite a few).
Anyway, I was just wondering if this group was male/female and if the percentage would change if it was just male or female. Or am I just being difficult now?

;-)

Moannie said...

Yep, I'm with ibeati...the arshole quotient is rapidly rising, and a large percentage of those are of the mean variety.

Janet said...

I had the exact same suspicions about the people in the Millionaire audience.
Speaking as a Southerner, I'm pretty sure we dislike Arkansas (because we don't want to claim them) and Florida, because of the school and the SEC. But maybe that's just NCAA prejudice (which is a whole different breed of asshole).
I may have just joined the 5%. So as a disclaimer, my best friend from college and an old boyfriend are both from Arkansas.

Shrinky said...

You say ass, we say arse, but the sentiment it the same. Frankly, I think you got confused here, it's 95% of the population that fall into your three sub-catagories of.. oh, wait a minute, erm.. blush.

OK, well at least don't stuff me into the mean catagory, huh? (Darn..)

Shammickite said...

I'm surprised that you say 5% fall into the "rear end" category.
I would have thought it was more than that.

Buck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Buck said...

I think more research is in order. Your 5% rule doesn't work for politicians, as noted, and that could be the only exception. I think not... there are also lawyers, car salesmen, late-night infomercial pitchmen, bosses, drill instructors... and Wolf Blitzer, who's in a category all his own. I think you need to apply for an Economic Stimulus grant to complete your study.

Suldog said...

Buck - I want that grant money, but if I apply for a grant to study assholes, does that make ME an asshole?

Sarah said...

I do agree that 5% is way too low. I work with people for a living and I just know that some groups will be 99.999% contaminated (the .001% is me, of course) but some groups are completely free of "the stink."

Buck is right. More research, please.

Karen said...

Okay, smart guy with the 5% rule... how do you explain that 78% of my former boyfriends were assholes???

It couldn't have been *me*.

Suldog said...

Karen - Some people are, unfortunately, asshole magnets. It's bad for those of you who are, but the rest of humanity owes you a severe debt of gratitude.

Uncle Jim said...

When we lived in Florid we found the 5% rule to be true..... only the 5% were the normal decent persons!

Jeni said...

Quite a response you're getting on the 5% rule. My response, of course, was going to be both witty and wise but as I scrolled down and saw what Lime had to say, I realized my thoughts pretty much mirrored hers. So where does that put us in the percentages anyway now?
I do however tend to view politicians as being like Ivory soap, 99 and 44/100 percent pure -b.s., that is!

Mrs. C. said...

There seems to be a largely disproportionate proportion (ooh, I'm spitting on the screen) of a-holes on a show called "Parking Wars" which I spent a disproportionate portion of my time viewing last week. It was like the black hole where all the a-holes go...

Ericka said...

oh i don't know. one of my earliest memories is of my father telling me that everyone is either an asshole or an idiot and i should chose early which one i was. generally, i chose both. :-)

Hilary said...

I think 5% sounds about right.

The assholes stand out more than the other 95% whom we rarely talk about. We just share, repeat and blog about the asshole stories so often that it sounds like they're far more than 5% of the group.

Probably.

Jenn said...

Hmmm, I'm with Lime, most especially while driving. That number seems to flip-flop (just like politicians) when entering a mall parking lot.

And to answer your first question (in response to Buck) yes -- but that can be worked into the grant application like "see, I'm an asshole so clearly there is an epidemic here that needs to be studied & brought to light"

Jazz said...

I have a friend who theorizes that 95% of the populations are idiots. I hope your 5% is contained in that 95% because otherwise the world is a scary place.

Meredith Teagarden(The Things we Carried) said...

Call me naive, just not the A word please :0. Really, I never even considered the mean factor in the audience on Millionaire. But, I am quite sure you have guessed correctly.

The poll made me laugh. Great example of your 5% theory!

Cath said...

I am SO glad we are past 19 comments.

Of course I agree with you too. Only 5% are assholes? Seems like more to me on those programs.
Love how it reverses for politicians too - so true, so true.

And I like your definition of "crucifix" on the poll. Nice one. :)

Real Live Lesbian said...

Only 5%? I'm a flippin' asshole magnet then!

Braja said...

LOL....I just read RealLiveLesbians comment and can't stop laughing. I was going to say, "Only 5%??" but she did it better.

I think you're being generous...

Absolut Ruiness said...

I can see that since some time you've been getting not less than 25 comments per post! Shows how your popularity grew suddenly after a few posts. I wanted to go to "that" specific post where it all began but then this will cost me all the more time to get up-to-date with your life.... Cant wait!