Truthiness, Scientification and Bullshit in Communication - From Public Health to Politics.
Presented by G.W. (Bill) Riedel, Ottawa – Tel/Fax:
Writers need to "develop a built-in bullshit detector." (Hemingway)and so must readers!
Canadian academic and author Laura Penny opens her book – ‘Your Call is Important, the Truth about BULLSHIT’ (There are at least 10 books in Ottawa public libraries with the word bullshit in the title, most of them written by academics) by quoting Lilly Tomlin: “No matter how cynical you become, it is never enough to keep up.” She then delivers her own judgement by starting the book with the observation: “We live in an era of unprecedented bullshit production” thereby joining other authors who have made similar claims. For example:
Neil Postman - 1969 - “every day in almost every way people are exposed to more bullshit than it is healthy for them to endure….” He further notes that “the best things schools can do for kids is to help them learn how to distinguish useful talk from bullshit.”
Harry Frankfurt - 2005 - begins his book ‘On Bullshit’ with “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.”
In spite of this there are few attempts to examine the human propensity to bullshit, especially as it exists in public health and politics. This presentation will survey much of the academic literature on the subject.
Perhaps the most important question to be examined will deal with potential legal consequences for bullshitters - Andrew Aberdein deals with the question in, Raising the tone: Definition, Bullshit, and the Definition of Bullshit, Chapter 10, page 152 of Gary L. Hardcastle and George A. Reisch, 2006, Bullshit and Philosophy – guaranteed to get perfect results every time, Open Court, Chicago. Aberdein observes: “In British and American common law, a civil claim for negligence arises when the defendant has a duty of care to the plaintiff which he neglects to exercise, thereby harming the plaintiff. Here the deceptive bullshitter has a duty to tell the truth; neglecting this duty harms his audience if they come to believe his false statements…. The associated culpability can range from inadvertence to wilful blindness”.
If you are not concerned about culpability perhaps finding out what BBB, ABB and BBSN stand for might be sufficiently of interest to attend this presentation.
Increase the efficiency of your organization by declaring:
THIS IS A BULLSHIT-FREE ZONE
BECAUSE IT IS NOT NICE TO BULLSHIT YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS!
Berkun, Scott - #53 - How to detect bullshit - http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/53-how-to-detect-bullshit/, August 9, 2006(accessed Nov. 23, 2010). (The first rule is to expect bullshit).
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