Sunday, March 23, 2014


I've been inspired by a group called the 5 percenters to create my own percentage breakdown of human beings. The 5 percenters, also known as the Nation of Gods and Earths, is an offshoot of the Nation of Islam which started in the 1960s in U.S. They have many teachings but the one that stuck out the most to me was the one behind the 5 percenter title. The teaching is that mankind is divided into 3 groups: the 85%, 10%, and the 5%. The 85% are the masses of people who are blind to the knowledge of self and God and hence are easily led astray and taken advantage of by the 10% who know the truth but use it to their advantage to control the 85%. Much of the 10% are in roles of power in areas like government, traditional religious organizations, etc. The remaining 5% of humanity are the ones who know the truth and want to help liberate the 85%.

Here's my breakdown:

  • There are 2-5% of humans who are good. That is their nature. They truly care about people, want to help them, and spend a large chunk of their lives doing so. Nothing is going to permanently discourage them from helping people. I've known a few people like this in  real life. Mother Theresa is often used as the archetype of this personality type but I hesitate to put her here after what has been considerable criticism of her philosophy and approach. A better example is Stan Brock, the founder of Remote Area Medical, an organization that provides free medical care to people in the U.S. and abroad. The organization is completely volunteer based so any money donated goes directly towards supplies and other vital needs of the organization. Mr. Brock takes no income for his work, sleeps at the RAM headquarters, and does not have a car. It's not very often that I'm impressed by people any more but Stan is on that short list. You can read more about him here and here. This is the website for his organization.Someone's even making a documentary about him. There are plenty of other people in this category who I cannot name because they do their good works without media attention or societal praise.
  • The next group is the 10-20% of people who are not absolutely good but they lean toward goodness and caring about other people. Given slight incentives, they could form the basis of a decent human community. However, given the current negative incentives, they are more likely to donate to a charity or volunteer at a soup kitchen and deal with other symptoms of the current system than  working to put an end to that system. One example of a person like this is a conversation I overheard in college between two students. They were discussing post-graduation employment options. Student A brought up working for pharmaceutical companies as an option. Student B expressed her reluctance to work for them due to ethical concerns regarding the medication trial process and how the companies generally target vulnerable populations in the U.S. and abroad for these trials. Student A semi-agreed but I could tell that it wasn't really an issue for him. Student B is firmly in this category because not only did she bring up ethical issues in discussion around employment, those issues were the first thing she mentioned. This the type of person who takes ethical issues seriously and would avoid what she considered unethical employment (even if it paid well) unless she saw no other way to make a reasonable living. 
  • I'm going to skip the other middle group and go straight to the end group. I will refer to them as the predators. They are comparable to the 10% group in the 5 percenter scheme. They are the rulers of this world and are willing to do anything to get what they want. Their powers are relative. They could be a Bill Gates or the leader of a small tribe. They are not above any type of action or manipulation even though they may tell themselves they are. I would posit them at about 10-15% of the population. 
  • Finally there is the rest. The majority of humanity between 60 and 78 % of the general population. Technically they should be neutral but I actually see them as somewhat evil. They are self-focused and have base desires that are easily manipulated by the predators mentioned in the last category. They are often ignorant and delusional. In the U.S. they will often support 'rugged individualism' type laws even though they live paycheck to paycheck and have skills that are dispensable to the market. If/when they end up up on government assistance, they are perpetually surprised even though they fit the profile perfectly. They tend to believe in the just wold fallacy OR believe that life isn't fair but that unfairness won't affect them even though they are painfully average. 

So there's my list. What do you think? Any critiques?

Which group (if any) are you a member of?


  1. I think it's important to note that the last group, the 60-78% is not just made up of the poor, or the uneducated. I don't think you meant to imply that, but since most people--especially those of the educated persuasion--like to think of themselves as generous and tolerant and ethical when many of them are anything but, I wanted to add that being "middle class" or having a masters degree or voting for "nice" people doesn't mean a person isn't in that last category. In fact, a lot of the financially well-off and educated people I know do, on some level, believe in the just world fallacy. That's how they rationalize to themselves their success and their (less than generous) attitudes towards people who didn't have the good fortune that they did.

    Maybe some of these people (the slightly more enlightened ones) belong in that middle group that you didn't detail instead--I don't know. These people like to think of themselves as "good people", and they are in the sense that they pay their taxes and mow their lawns and don't beat their kids, but they still buy the one-percent's political and economic propaganda, deep down, both because they are not inclined to question the status quo that has mostly worked to their advantage all their lives, and because the propaganda satisfies some deep emotional need of theirs, usually the need to believe that they are inherently better than their "inferiors". I think Student A in your example would fit into this category.

    This category includes most (probably upwards of 95%) of the people I know, and I used to be one of them, because that's the world I was born and raised into. It's so easy to fall into this category if you're born into even a little bit of privilege and manage to leverage it into a "good" college degree and a "good" job. That's also probably why I was so inclined to write this dissertation in your comments section, because I'm surrounded by these people and am so very, very sick of their self-congratulatory BS.

    As for myself (since you asked!) I think over recent years I've evolved into the Student B group, the top portion of that 10-20%. I give to charity and care about the moral implications of my job, but I'm not willing (yet, anyway) to give up all of my comforts and privilege to join that top group. I fully realize that, at some level, this makes me part of the problem.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Alex. I definitely didn't mean to imply that the 60-78% are all 'dumb' in the traditional sense but thank you for clarifying. I stopped thinking that way such a long time ago that sometimes I forget that bad and dumb are still seen as equivalent by many people. I wrote a post about that topic almost a year ago here:

      I also should clarify that the other middle group is the 60-78%. I just decided to talk about the predators first before coming back to them. I wanted to end the post talking about the majority of people.

      I agree with everything you said regarding the privileged ones who see all their fortune as being self-made instead of a mixture of good luck, being in the right place at the right time, and a bit of work. I no longer can stand listening to their self-congratulatory BS. Funnily enough, I'm one of the ones that overcome the odds (I come from a poor immigrant family, no father at home, etc but I went to a top university and have a 'good' job) but it has always been clear to me how lucky I was to be in this position and how much of who I am was due to how I was raised. So ditto everything you said in your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs.

      I'm with you in the student B group. There was a time when I was planning to live a life like Stan Brock but one day looked around and realized how INHERENTLY jacked up everything is. I realized that even if I dedicated my every waking hour to making the world a better place, I still wouldn't come close to making a dent in the evils of this world perpetuated and supported by those in the last 2 groups. I realized that even though I was very idealistic I also had a strong practical streak. I just couldn't do something that didn't make sense. I discussed this in detail in this post:

      thanks again for commenting and I hope you keep reading.

    2. You might as well revert to earlier class-divisions - e.g. Lumpenproletariat,

      Bourgeoisie and Educated Elite.

      One could just as easily divide us all into

      Snobs, Yobs, Thickos and Sickos !

    3. LOL Auban.

      thanks to you I learned 3 new words today: lumpenproletariat, yob, and thicko.

    4. Thanks for the links. I'll have to check out your archives! I was also raised xtian (like, lunatic, bigoted Jerry Falwell-type xtian) and transitioned out of that as well, so I really liked that transformation post.

  2. Chickpositive, I think 2-5% is a very prodigal estimate for the first group. =)

    And there isn't that much of a difference between the second three groups. You have touched upon the second group's difference from the first here

    I think that anyone recognizing the presence of evil in the world, and determined to root-cause it, will eventually find out that nature is incorrigibly brutal. If they continue to stick with goodness, they will decide not to allow this to perpetuate.

    1. Hello Wise One,

      You're probably right about the first group. I just wanted to allow for all the people doing really good, sacrificial things that you don't hear about.

      Thank you for commenting and I hope you keep reading.

  3. I find this post very ammusing. I really do. This is not lip service.

    I maybe disagree with the percentages. I think good, really good, people, are very few. You always have somewhere in the middle people, everywhere. And some, an elite percentage, that is also what we could call "evil", the overlords, etc.

    This is one of my most interesting topics for me. The nature of evil itself. What is the difference between an human being that´s doing what he "has to do", and one who is being evil just to be evil?

    I find that, most of the times, it comes once again to reproduction. If you reproduce, your right to being called "good" diminishes a lot.

    1. But very good post. Keep it up!

    2. Thank you, Rafael!

      I really appreciate your kind words. Especially since I've been reading your blog for years and find it to be of such high quality.

      I don't know that I would use reproduction as a sole determiner of goodness. I can't help but think of people, few though they are, that have biological children and then decide to adopt as well. Assuming they treat the adopted children like their own, I can't help but think there's some deep measure of goodness in them that I can't overlook just because they reproduced. After all, there are plenty of people that want to have kids but can't and decide that they would rather be completely childless than adopt.

      I will say that if people become less good after they have kids it's probably due to the time and monetary demands of child-rearing; they simply don't have the time for social justice issues that they did before. Granted that's a choice they made but still. Having kids also tends to make people more conservative since they want to encourage a more stable, and seemingly safer, society since their vulnerable children are now a part of it.

    3. Chickpositive,

      I am more with Rafael.

      "they simply don't have the time for social justice issues that they did before"
      I think it goes FAR beyond that, unfortunately. This post by Sister Y touches on why:

      I especially find the "Babies as Hostages" part very observant.

      There are times when a parent travels with a toddler in a bus. When offerred a seat, the parent will sit, placing their kid on their lap. This might be silly, but exaggerating only slightly, the toddler is pretty much treated like a heavy bag. The parent meanwhile is treated like they somehow have more claim to being comfortably seated!

      And give a thought to politics and corporate inheritance! Having descendents to hand the throne over to, makes their hunger for power insatiable and unstoppable, and multiplies their selfishness.

      "I have a family to support" is a line used to justify SO many things! In Hindi movies and even India at least a few decades ago. Casual labourers asking for extra money, pickpockets asking the police to go soft, etc.

    4. Hi Wise One,

      I agree with you that parents abuse their position for reasons of selfishness. However, I think this just another example of humans being humans. I don't think having kids causes any of the parental bad behavior. Kids are just the regular selfish person's new socially acceptable means to an end.