Friday, January 13, 2017

The bullshit asymmetry principle

Brandolini's Law: "The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

This is one of many things I learned from browsing the syllabus of an excellent new course offered at the University of Washington, "Calling Bullshit in an Age of Big Data." 

From the course synopsis:

The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. So-called higher education often rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture has elevated bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit, then take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with second-order bullshit. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, often seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.

We're sick of it. It's time to do something, and as educators, one constructive thing we know how to do is to teach people. So, the aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument.

H/T @DailyNousEditor

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