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  • Writer's pictureRichard Murff

The Asymmetric Theory of Bullshit

No supply chain interuptions here...


The Asymmetric Theory of Bullshit is a pretty straightforward: It states because it takes far less energy to create bullshit that it does to refute it, so the level of bullshit in the world will always increase. Screaming "the election was stolen!'at the top of your lungs is a fairly small investment in time and thought. Explaining why it wasn't is really all that hard, but is a different magnitude in both logic and time. This is pretty silly until you start thinking about the consequences. Society has always been a perpetual bullshit machine, but like everything involving cable news, the internet and AI, it’s gotten out of hand.

Refuting bullshit, on the surface, would seem simple – but for the sheer volume. That same ChatGPT that is writing drafts of essays, white papers and the introduction of productivity reports around the world doesn’t know anything. It can’t tell the truth from a lie, and it doesn’t care to. It is literally a predictive algorithm that scrapes bullshit from around the internet to produce something that sounds good. Or is so baffling that it’s hard address what was actually said.

Consider that in the time it takes to tell tiresome goon with neon-blue hair the actual definition of the word “genocide” (which will include the definition of the word “actual” if you want to get anywhere) and why it doesn’t apply at all the current bedlam. Using AI she/he/it (s/h/it?) can create a meme of a colorful, friendly person with a puppy that says something like “my truth, my way!” and post it to their 30,000 mostly human followers.

That might be harmless enough, but there is something Orwellian about this modern academic bullshit. It’s not enough to leave this troubled soul alone with their altered perception of the physical universe, which is what most people are happy to do. The whole point is to make you divorce yourself from reality and embrace their fantasy. It’s not enough for someone to change their identity, they get to change yours.  

Take for example the effort it takes to explain the phrase cisgender, which I keep being told applies to me. First of all, humans don’t have a gender, they have a sex. Gender is a grammatical term used to denote the case of nouns, largely in Indo-European language. Even if you add a second definition: A collection of social norms and mores regarding the sexes, the definition still doesn’t work here. The reason it doesn't work is the prefix: cis is a Latin word that does not mean whatever the people using it think it does. Cis is the other side of the coin of the Latin Trans: meaning across. Cis means near, or the near side. To the Romans, the part of Gaul across the alps was Transalpine Gaul, and the part on their side of the mountains was Cisalpine Gaul. In no context does it mean - Hell, I've never had anyone but myself actually define the word.

Just try explaining this in the wild. It takes a lot more time and effort than merely screaming “my truth, my way!” and throwing a cup of fair-trade coffee in my face. And while I’m reaching of a hankie to mop up the social indignation, this clod is on ChatGDP, again, saying: “Give me 400 words on the patriarchal colonizing of marginalized otters.” And suddenly that becomes a thing that someone needs to refute it.

This is where we reach the "why bother" stage of human intellectual development.

Not only does the asymmetry ensure that there is always more bullshit (and always more) that need to be refuted, modern universities have focused on new techniques leveraging someone else’s bullshit to spread your own. Just earlier this week, Dr. Claudine Gay, the president of that hallowed beacon of higher education, Harvard University, exhibited her application of existing bullshit as a multiplier for her own. She, and most of Harvard, took exception to the maneuver being mis-gendered as “plagiarism.”

Well, she’d know.

What, you well may ask, is the point of all this bullshit? Wouldn’t be easier if we all had at least a loose grasp on what was actually happening around us? Like most of human innovation, it’s a labor-saving device. But there is an emotional element to bullshit that can't be discounted: It also serves a very clear face-saving device.

If you can’t convince the world of your genius at least you can leverage sufficient quantities of ready-generated bullshit to make a thinking person find it tedious to keep call you a moron.


Update: On 2 January 2023, Dr. gay resigned as President of Harvard under the weight of contradiction of her own bullshit.

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