Briefly: Bullshit

March 11, 2021

Seriously, if you've never read Harry Frankfurt's little book On Bullshit you owe it to yourself to read it.  It's, umm, increasingly necessary in our world.  And I don't care what year you are living in; every year it's increasingly necessary.  No BS.

That said, this is excellent in many ways. And a useful distinction:

“Recently, researchers have begun to treat bullshitting as having two separate dimensions. “Persuasive bullshitting” is motivated by a desire to impress or persuade. “Evasive bullshitting” is different — as a “strategic circumnavigation of the truth”, it’s the sort that a politician might engage in when trying to cover up a mistake, for example. By definition, the creation of either type of bullshit is intentional, though of course the spreading of bullshit may not be.” 

Also this:

“The team found that people who reported engaging in more persuasive bullshitting were more receptive to all forms of bullshit (pseudo-profound, pseudo-scientific and fake news). However, higher scores for evasive bullshitting were not related to susceptibility to the first two forms of bullshit, and were actually associated with less susceptibility to believing fake news.

In a subsequent study, the team found that, when levels of evasive bullshitting were controlled for, people who engaged in more persuasive bullshitting were not only more receptive to pseudo-profound bullshit but were also more over-confident in their own intellectual ability. They also scored lower for cognitive ability (measured using simple numeracy and vocabulary tests) and reported less insight into their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In contrast, when persuasive bullshitting was controlled for, high evasive bullshitters scored higher on the tests of cognitive ability. As the researchers write, “persuasive bullshitting may rely on less engagement in analytic thinking processes compared to evasive bullshitting”.”


Be well everyone!  That's no BS.