July 2007


Jul 8, 2007: 8. Bogosity and other useful concepts


And the following law should also be quite instructive, also if you are not interested in programming at all:

          Sturgeon's Law: prov.

“Ninety percent of everything is crud”. Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, “Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud.” Sturgeon himself called this “Sturgeon's Revelation”, and it first appeared in the March 1958 issue of Venture Science Fiction; he gave Sturgeon's Law as “Nothing is always absolutely so.” Oddly, when Sturgeon's Revelation is cited, the final word is almost invariably changed to ‘crap’.

Indeed, Sturgeon's Law would be generally applicable were it not for the fact that - as shown by party programs, bureaucratic prose, advertisement lingo, official spokesmen of any kind, electionary promises, and religion in general - that it is often is overly optimistic and too kind and forgiving.

I wish you much pleasure with and some edification from the rest of Raymond and Steele's jargon-files. It's all quite interesting, and it is undoubtedly the best summary of much hacker and computer jargon.

Also, it is very clear and readable, and lots of fun for those of sufficient native wit.

P.S. Earlier published, in Dutch.

Maarten Maartensz


Whoever is interested in programming or in refinements of English should consult the essay about hackers plus extensive glossary of hacker-jargon by Guy Steele and Eric Raymond.

It can be found here (and there is a lot of it, in many files):


But if you don't know anything about programming most of it will not be for you, unless you are a linguist, or want to know more about hackers.

On the other hand... speaking for myself, I found it all quite interesting, and one of the hacker-terms that deserves to be better known is bogosity. What is "bogosity"? I quote from the urled glossary:

bogosity: /[email protected]?tee/, n.

1. [orig. CMU, now very common] The degree to which something is

bogus. Bogosity is measured with a bogometer; in a seminar, when a speaker says something bogus, a listener might raise his hand and say “My bogometer just triggered”. More extremely, “You just pinned my bogometer” means you just said or did something so outrageously bogus that it is off the scale, pinning the bogometer needle at the highest possible reading (one might also say “You just redlined my bogometer”). The agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the microLenat. 2. The potential field generated by a bogon flux; see quantum bogodynamics. See also bogon flux, bogon filter, bogus.

I have provided the original links, so you can read the links yourself.

Bogosity is a nice and often useful term. ("What is spirituality? Undiluted bogosity, unless it's Alzheimer.")

The jargon-collection by Raymond and Steel not only gives many nice and useful terms (with clear definitions), and a good statement about hackers and hacking, but also contains quite a few nice and useful principles.

Thus, there is the nice Hanlon's Razor, very good for your piece of mind if you happen to be highly gifted: 

Hanlon's Razor: prov.

A corollary of Finagle's Law, similar to Occam's Razor, that reads “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Quoted here because it seems to be a particular favorite of hackers, often showing up in sig blocks, fortune cookie files and the login banners of BBS systems and commercial networks. This probably reflects the hacker's daily experience of environments created by well-intentioned but short-sighted people. Compare Sturgeon's Law, Ninety-Ninety Rule.


        home - index - top -