4.10.2006

A Bit More (on) B.S.

In trying to get the students in one of my classes to develop an "Anatomy of Bullshit" (not as gross as it sounds), they came up with a much more robust understanding of the term than what I found in Frankfurt's new book. (That book, btw, is available here for free and is not really a book so much as a micro.book that once was an essay.)

Here are my notes from after class:


I say more robust because, while Frankfurt gives examples of b.s. that amount to a definition of b.s. as "specious" (I think this is dead wrong), the students I was talking with worked closer to a definition of b.s. as, in the most general sense, "filling up space with language."

If you can't read/translate my little yellow note, it goes:

  • lies

  • stupid stuff added

  • overly obvious discourse

  • repetition without a rhetorical purpose

  • manipulation

  • many unnecessary small details (aka "filler")

  • all about length

  • going down in evaluative contexts with high stakes

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