On the myth of the 10x Plumber

While reading a paper on the effectiveness of various candidate selection tactics (interviews, etc), I stumbled across this gem:

"... if [job] performance variability is very large, it then becomes important to hire the best performing applicants [...]. As it happens, this "extreme" case appears to be the reality for most jobs."

Schmidt and Hunter (1998)

While stated1 rather than shakeily quatified like Peopleware's wargames, this implies that in reality software development is not all that different from any other work in this regard.

The fact that the idea of "10x programmers", "code ninjas", "unicorns", or "rockstars" is so self-gratifying2 probably has more to do with the popularity of the idea than it's connection to reality, or importance in the field of hiring software developers.

[1]Hunter et al., 1990; Schmidt & Hunter, 1983; Schmidt et al., 1979 (you can chase that citation if you want, but this is a quick blog post not thorough academic work ;-).
[2]If your company only hires "10x rockstar unicorn-ninjas", and you work there, then what does that say about you?