We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"Bullshit" is the title of a well-known 1986 essay by Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt, now expanded into a short book.
Two of Frankfurt's main points seem to be that, 1, the bullshitter is more motivated to create an impression of himself rather than to communicate substantial true material and 2. bullshit may be more insidious than lying. From a review of the book here:
...bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
Besides being a very bright fellow, his life as an academic gives him unique experience with the world of bullshit. We are all bullshitters, to some extent, but some make a career of it.
Frankfurt's original 6-page essay can be read here. One quote:
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 liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
I worked for years with a first-class bullshitter. She was also a first-class bully, and intimidated even people well above her into believing whatever she said was right. Whatever went wrong was someone else's fault. After about 15 years, she finally was marginalized but she did alot of damage. You see these people, run like hell.
Exactly. I worked under a guy like that -- it wasn't so much that he'd lie to you as that the truth or falsehood of his statements simply weren't an issue for him at all. All he cared about was the effect he could have. Perhaps he did a bit of strategizing about how likely he was to be called on anything he said. He was amazingly good at making weasel words sound as if they added up to something. I never saw anyone successfully hold him to any prior statement, or saw him admit to responsibility for any bad result. Clients always fell for it; someone eventually got angry, but none ever seemed to understand what he'd done to them.
He sometimes used to barge into my office and try to manipulate me. I found it was possible to chase him out by turning the conversation to anything concrete and factual. He couldn't take more than about 15 seconds of that -- would just turn tail and leave. It was as if there were no oxygen in the air when that kind of conversation was happening.
Like Critical Inquiry, Raritan used to have some percentage of interesting essays. Both have been taken over by the memes of the left, as U Chicago and Rutgers filled to the gunwales with automatic lefties.
Both are still worth browsing if they're in the library, back in the issues of the 80s anyway.
I don't recall, by the way, at a distance of many years, that Frankfurt said the bullshitter was worried about the impression he made. That was reserved for humbug (4th of July speeches and so forth. As a high school band member I was subjected to too many humbug speeches.)
The bullshitter was by contrast just indifferent to the truth of the matter.