I am currently in a political science class titled "Fake News: How To Identify and Refute It" at Arizona State University. As a Journalism major it can be hard to sit through a two-hour class bashing on the news, however, it is beneficial to hear constructive criticism and learn the political psychology of our leaders.
In this course, we are currently analyzing the study of bullshit by Harry Frankfurt at Princeton University. The essay is called "On Bullshit."
Throughout our discussion, our class could not help, but see the parallels between this essay and what is going on in politics right now. According to Frankfurt, we are in the culture of bullshit.
Although we have no theory for bullshit, it is very present in politics and the media. No matter where one stands, the facts are there are an abundance of lies told every day from the White House and there is fraudulent and fake media made by people trying to make a quick buck.
You might ask, what's the difference between a lie and bullshit? Or you might think there is no difference, but there definitely is and this is why the difference is crucially important for us to know.
A lie is the concealment of the truth and it has the intention to deceive. BS is a misrepresentation and a vague claim inspired by manipulation and motive. The bullshitter has an agenda.
The bullshitter is arguably more harmful than a liar. The bullshitter is more dangerous because it is not easy to refute bullshit. When someone lies there is a quick statistic or a rebuttal.
The danger in lying is many people do not fact check or question people of authority. The war between the media and the president has encouraged refraining from questioning. Instead, many call fake news on information they do not want to hear, even if it is the truth.
While lying is dangerous, a bullshitter is harder to detect. Bullshitters have a motive and they might use lying to get their way. A bullshitter's motive is to say things that they do not know anything about, but claim they do. Through their confidence, their supporters will believe them and maybe not even question them.
The bullshitter not only does not know the facts, but they also do not care to know. Their lack of concern for what's right is due to their need for persuasion and the goal of their motives.
Through this study, Frankfurt determines that bullshit is intended to persuade without concern for the truth. This is where the bullshitter is different from the liar because a liar cares about the truth and this is why they are hiding it.
The bullshitter does not care if what they say, do, or represent is true or false. The bullshitter only cares where they have persuaded or convinced their audience to side with their motives.
I'll leave it to the audience to see the political parallel to this language along with the crisis of social media promoted fake news.
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