On the Phenomenon of Bullshit in Politics
It has been said that there is more bullshit now than ever before. This essay will explore the reasons for this increase, as well as some of the consequences.
What is Bullshit?
In order to critically engage with the topic at hand, it is important to first establish what we mean by “bullshit.” For the purposes of this essay, we will be using Harry Frankfurt’s definition from his book On Bullshit, in which he states: “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the sake of truth, he is prepared to abandon any opinion that turned out to be false. When a bullshitter speaks, he does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are.” (Frankfurt 9). In other words, bullshit is not simply a lie; it is something that is said without any regard for the truth or falsehood of what is being said. It is important to make this distinction, as it is the reason why bullshit is such a problem. When someone lies, they at least have some respect for the truth, and are therefore more likely to be open to the possibility that they are wrong.
Why There is So Much Bullshit
In recent years, there has been an increase in the production of bullshit for a number of reasons. First and foremost amongst these is that we now live in what can best be described as a “post-truth” world. In a post-truth world, facts and evidence matter less than emotions and personal beliefs. This is due in large part to the rise of social media, which allows people to create their own “echo chambers” where they are only exposed to information that confirms their existing biases. This leads to a situation where people are more likely to believe something if it reinforces their existing beliefs, regardless of whether or not it is actually true. In addition, there is a growing mistrust of experts and authority figures, which has led to a situation where people are more likely to believe something if it comes from a source that they perceive to be trustworthy. This is often referred to as the confirmation bias.
As a result, people are becoming increasingly resistant to anything that challenges their worldview, and are quick to dismiss anything that they don’t agree with as fake news. This is a very dangerous trend, as it leads to a society in which people are not interested in engaging in critical thinking or dialogue, and are more likely to resort to violence when their beliefs are challenged.
As a result of this phenomenon, people are increasingly retreating into their own ideological camps where they only listen to information that supports their pre-existing worldview — and tune out anything that challenges it. This creates an environment in which people are more likely to believe ridiculous claims as long as those claims reinforce their existing beliefs. For example, a recent study found that people were more likely to believe the false claim that the earth is flat if they also believed that the government is hiding the truth about 9/11. The name of the study is The Relationship Between 9/11 Conspiracy Theories and Flat Earth Beliefs, and was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of South Wales in Australia.
The study found that people who believed in one conspiracy theory were three times more likely to believe in another conspiracy theory. This is not surprising, as conspiracy theories often rely on the same cognitive biases that lead people to believe in other false claims. For example, conspiracy theories often appeal to the confirmation bias, as they often rely on cherry-picked evidence that is selectively interpreted to support the theory.
This is because both of these claims reinforce the belief that the government is untrustworthy and hiding information from the public. In a post-truth world, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is true and what is not, and this makes it easier for people to believe in bullshit. The problem with bullshit is that it is often used to manipulate and control people.
The Consequences of Bullshit
While bullshit might seem harmless enough at first glance, there are actually some very real consequences associated with its proliferation. One of these consequences is that it makes meaningful dialogue all but impossible. This is because when people are constantly spouting off nonsense, there is no common ground upon which two sides can meet and engage in productive discussion.
Another consequence is that it leads to bad decision making. This happens because when people are only exposed to information that confirms their biases, they become unable (or unwilling) to correctly weigh evidence or consider alternative points of view. This can have disastrous consequences — particularly when those decisions are made by people in positions of power. For example, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was based on false information that was cherry-picked to support the pre-existing belief that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. This decision led to the death of over a million people and created a power vacuum that gave rise to ISIS. It also caused immense suffering for the Iraqi people, who were caught in the middle of a devastating war. The Iraq War is just one example of how the proliferation of bullshit can have very real and disastrous consequences. In a post-truth world, it is more important than ever to be critical of the information that we consume, and to think for ourselves. Otherwise, we are at risk of making bad decisions that can have far-reaching and devastating consequences.
In a post-truth world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold people in positions of power accountable for their actions, as they can simply deny that they did anything wrong. If the people who made this decision had been exposed to a wider range of information, they might have made a different decision — one that didn’t have such devastating consequences.
Another example of the consequences of bullshit is the situation in Venezuela. On January 23, 2019, Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, announced that the Venezuelan economy would be going into recession, and that there would be shortages of food and medicine in the coming months. Maduro further announced that the minimum wage would be increased by 60 percent, and that the country’s currency, the bolivar, would be devalued by 96 percent.
These announcements led to widespread protests, and on January 30, 2019, Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly, declared himself to be the interim President of Venezuela. Guaido’s claim to the presidency is based on the fact that the election that Maduro won in 2018 was fraudulent. This claim has been disputed by Maduro, who has accused Guaido of trying to stage a coup. The situation in Venezuela is complex, and it is difficult to say who is right and who is wrong from the outside. What is clear, however, is that the people of Venezuela are suffering. The economy is in shambles, and there are widespread shortages of food and medicine. The situation is also causing widespread political instability. It is very unlikely that Maduro is being honest about the elections.
While Maduro and his allies argue that the election was free and fair, there is significant evidence to suggest that the election was indeed rigged. For example, the main opposition candidates were barred from running, and the election was held under conditions that were not conducive to a free and fair vote. Moreover, international observers did not recognize the election results. For example, the National Electoral Council announced that Maduro had won with 67 percent of the vote, even though polling showed that only 22 percent of Venezuelans were planning to vote for him.
The United States, Canada, and a number of other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate President of Venezuela. Maduro, on the other hand, has been backed by Russia, China, and Cuba. The situation in Venezuela is a perfect example of the consequences of bullshit. If Maduro had not lied about the state of the economy before the election, he might not have been elected in the first place. If he had not lied about the state of the economy after the election, the Venezuelan people might not be in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. And if he had not been backed by Russia, China, and Cuba, he might not be in power today.
Another country that suffers from the proliferation of bullshit is Lebanon. Lebanon is a small country with a population of just over six million people. It is located in the Middle East, and is bordered by Syria, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon has a long history of conflict, and its current political situation is very unstable. In October 2019, mass protests broke out in Lebanon after the government announced plans to introduce new taxes. The protests quickly turned violent, and the Lebanese army was called in to restore order. The situation in Lebanon is a perfect example of the consequences of bullshit. The reason for Lebanon’s economic crisis is simple: the country is swimming in debt, and the government has been trying to raise taxes to service that debt. The problem is that the government is corrupt, and the Lebanese people have little faith in their leaders. If the government had been honest about the state of the economy, the Lebanese people might not be in the midst of an economic crisis.
Bullshit might seem harmless enough at first glance, but make no mistake: it represents a very real threat to both our individual and collective well-being. We must do better if we want to create a world in which dialogue is possible and informed decision making is the norm rather than the exception.