“The bullshitter is indifferent to the truth; he will say anything to suit his purpose…”

From Friday’s Irish Times, Brian Boyd with a timely reminder [for any number of reasons… – Ed] of a topic noted in the Slugger archive back in February 2005 – “On Bullshit“.

From the Irish Times article – “Bullshit can be more dangerous than lies in politics

…as Dr Frankfurt explains himself: “Bullshit is trying to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate an impression in a way that obscures the fact of the matter.”

And it’s crucial to our understanding of bullshit, says Dr Frankfurt, that we differentiate it from lying. The liar cares deeply about the truth; he has to in order to conceal it from his listeners and readers. The bullshitter is indifferent to the truth; he will say anything to suit his purpose – invariably his personal advancement.

Invariably, but not always…

That’s the beauty of bullshit: it’s a magic wand of obfuscation. Because bullshit doesn’t reside along the traditional truth/lie axis, you can simply counter claims that you are bullshitting by applying further layers of bullshitting. It’s a magical realm where, as Lewis Carroll once noted, words mean what you choose them to mean.

…and a [political] warning

It is not the lies that hurt us – we are used to them – it’s the bullshit that will kill us. As our professor of bullshit at Princeton warns: “The bullshitter does not reject the authority of the truth – he simply pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a far greater enemy of the truth than lies can ever be.”

As I noted back in 2005…

Truly a book for our times, On Bullshit written by emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton Harry Frankfurt, and based on this article, is wonderfully reviewed here in the New York Times, including this quote – The bull[shit] artist.. cares nothing for truth or falsehood. The only thing that matters to him is “getting away with what he says”.. hmm.. sound familiar?

[Anyone, in particular, in mind? – Ed]  Oh, one or two…

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