What’s with all the Bullshit?

Last year the book On Bullshit by philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt was a surprise bestseller, even reaching #1 on the NYT Bestseller list for one week. That is an amazing commercial success for my friends at Princeton University Press.

The success of that book apparently inspired some other authors:

The golfer John Daly has a new autobiography out this week entitled “My Life in and out of the Rough: The Truth about all the Bullshit you think you know about me.” This book is published by Harper Collins, the same people who published Freakonomics. They were scared to death of the title Freakonomics when my sister Linda Jines first thought it up. I guess they have loosened up a bit.

Then there is “100 Bullshit Jobs … and How to Get Them” by Stanley Bing. This book was also released just this week. Guess who the publisher was? Harper Collins!

Then there was “The Dictionary of Bullshit” which was released two weeks ago. At least that one wasn’t Harper Collins.

Be careful not to confuse “The Dictionary of Bullshit” with “The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit,” published in February.

Then there is “Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth” that came out in paperback in March, “Bullets, Badges, and Bullshit” also out in March, and “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City” from last September.

Is this enough bullshit? Apparently not.

On the horizon for release later this month are “The Business of Bullshit” (not “The Dictionary of Business Bullshit,” although you could be forgiven for the mistake) and “Your Call is Important to us: The Truth about Bullshit.”

At least there is a few months respite before “Hello, Lied the Agent: And Other Bullshit You Hear as a Hollywood TV Writer” due out next September.

All I can say is, what the F*** is going on here?


Bill L. Lloyd

Funny, I was thinking the same thing.

Mr. Levitt, if you have time to post fluff like this, would you mind answering my points that appear to undercut your Times column from last week? See two threads ago, re soccer birth months.

leliathomas

It's like teenagers jumping on the dark art and anime bandwagons... And just as frightening.

blou888

So... Mr. Bill. What were you thinking about?

Wonder where they got the articles... They must have the most time on their hands to think of this awesome book title...

Bill L. Lloyd

Well, Levitt just e-mailed me that he stands by Dubner's non-response.

I find it odd that Levitt and Dubner appear uninterested in whether the thesis paragraph of their New York Times piece is actually true or not.

"We're relying on this academic study" is a non-answer. The study contains one single World Cup reference, 1990, that looks cherry-picked, since the 1982, 1986, and 1998 World Cups do not yield the same results.

Again, it's pretty strange that hundreds of thousands of intelligent people all over the world now believe that "If you were to examine the birth certificates of every soccer player in next month's World Cup tournament, you would most likely find a noteworthy quirk: elite soccer players are more likely to have been born in the earlier months of the year than in the later months."

It's strange that people believe it, because it isn't true.

And it's even stranger that the two people who wrote the above sentence don't appear to care whether it's true or not.

Where is the integrity?

Read more...

cubakid

Maybe a little off topic, but can you give more insight to your statement, "They were scared to death of the title Freakonomics..."?

If this is explained somewhere else, just point me to it.

Thanks.

Rod

In an era where the nation's leadership is feeding the American people lies left and right, readers are bound to use their discretionary dollars to purchase books with titles that resonate with the way they feel about life in general.

After all, if most people are continually striving to "keep it real", is there a better word to effectively label that which is not?

Americans are just calling it as they see it, and buying titles that reflect this...

blou888

Its actually called BS, but...

dbswinford

When a word becomes too commonplace, especially one which has an historically pejorative meaning, it loses its ability to "shock", and its ability to raise eyebrows...which injects a socialized "pause" in the discourse (typically used to say "This is beyond the pale of acceptability, and I don't use it lightly"). Of course, in order to continue serving the (useful) purpose of defining outrageousness, one has to escalate to "WTF?" now, since (the cute euphemism) "BS" no longer elicits an other than "ho-hum" response in either the speaker or listener. *sigh*

JustBusiness17

Funny how this posting only has 9 comments when the one that directed me here has 214... Now you know why people buy books about atheism (or more specifically the negative social impacts of religions).

Now, if you could generate 214 comments with a post about bird watching, I will concede to your point. Otherwise, I think you need to re-evaluate your apatheistic viewpoint.

If those numbers aren't enough to change your mind regarding the subject, let me frame the situation like this: 6.67 Billion people in the world and 87.3% of those people believe unsupported claims that clash with our understanding of reality. Scientific mistrust is on the rise and countless hours are being dedicated towards unproductive behaviour...

Isn't human capital a major aspect of economics?

Bill L. Lloyd

Funny, I was thinking the same thing.

Mr. Levitt, if you have time to post fluff like this, would you mind answering my points that appear to undercut your Times column from last week? See two threads ago, re soccer birth months.

leliathomas

It's like teenagers jumping on the dark art and anime bandwagons... And just as frightening.

blou888

So... Mr. Bill. What were you thinking about?

Wonder where they got the articles... They must have the most time on their hands to think of this awesome book title...

Bill L. Lloyd

Well, Levitt just e-mailed me that he stands by Dubner's non-response.

I find it odd that Levitt and Dubner appear uninterested in whether the thesis paragraph of their New York Times piece is actually true or not.

"We're relying on this academic study" is a non-answer. The study contains one single World Cup reference, 1990, that looks cherry-picked, since the 1982, 1986, and 1998 World Cups do not yield the same results.

Again, it's pretty strange that hundreds of thousands of intelligent people all over the world now believe that "If you were to examine the birth certificates of every soccer player in next month's World Cup tournament, you would most likely find a noteworthy quirk: elite soccer players are more likely to have been born in the earlier months of the year than in the later months."

It's strange that people believe it, because it isn't true.

And it's even stranger that the two people who wrote the above sentence don't appear to care whether it's true or not.

Where is the integrity?

Read more...

cubakid

Maybe a little off topic, but can you give more insight to your statement, "They were scared to death of the title Freakonomics..."?

If this is explained somewhere else, just point me to it.

Thanks.

Rod

In an era where the nation's leadership is feeding the American people lies left and right, readers are bound to use their discretionary dollars to purchase books with titles that resonate with the way they feel about life in general.

After all, if most people are continually striving to "keep it real", is there a better word to effectively label that which is not?

Americans are just calling it as they see it, and buying titles that reflect this...

blou888

Its actually called BS, but...

dbswinford

When a word becomes too commonplace, especially one which has an historically pejorative meaning, it loses its ability to "shock", and its ability to raise eyebrows...which injects a socialized "pause" in the discourse (typically used to say "This is beyond the pale of acceptability, and I don't use it lightly"). Of course, in order to continue serving the (useful) purpose of defining outrageousness, one has to escalate to "WTF?" now, since (the cute euphemism) "BS" no longer elicits an other than "ho-hum" response in either the speaker or listener. *sigh*

JustBusiness17

Funny how this posting only has 9 comments when the one that directed me here has 214... Now you know why people buy books about atheism (or more specifically the negative social impacts of religions).

Now, if you could generate 214 comments with a post about bird watching, I will concede to your point. Otherwise, I think you need to re-evaluate your apatheistic viewpoint.

If those numbers aren't enough to change your mind regarding the subject, let me frame the situation like this: 6.67 Billion people in the world and 87.3% of those people believe unsupported claims that clash with our understanding of reality. Scientific mistrust is on the rise and countless hours are being dedicated towards unproductive behaviour...

Isn't human capital a major aspect of economics?

mg

and let's not forget the original bullshit commentator/artist, George Carlin. This is one of my favorite clips.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbzwDFvc-Xc