Sunday, July 8, 2007

How to detect bullshit!

While I think that we can all agree with Harry Frankfurt that there is a lot of bullshit all around us all the time, it seems to me that the most important thing is to be able to detect bullshit. On that subject I have found two useful references:

1. Postman, Neil, 1969 - "Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection" (Paper delivered at the National Convention for the Teachers of English, November 28, 1969, Washington, D.C.) For me the paper did not come up until I googled On Bullshit with Google Scholar. It is an excellent paper.

2. #53 - How to detect bullshit
By Scott Berkun, August 9, 2006 - bullshit/ .
This paper has some interesting references.

Finally I would suggest that the law of the opposite is also a very good way to detect bullshit.
This law applies to any organization from a family to a country. It goes something like this:
If you want to detect problems or bullshit in an organization, look at what the senior managers are doing and talking about and also listen to the employee grapevine (gripevine) and then test against the opposite!
Talks about leadership most likely means there is leadershit - organizations with good leadership don’t need to talk about it.
Talk about teams means there are no teams and there is perhaps vicious competition
Talk about free flow of information may indicate organizational information costipation and secrecy
I am sure you get my drift!!!

Happy crap or bullshit detection!