The Science of Detecting Bullshit

What is Bullshit?

http://what is
Photographer: Evan Dennis | Source: Unsplash

Personal Experience Leads to Inaccurate Perception

Photographer: Bradley Pisney | Source: Unsplash

Anecdotal Evidence Makes us Susceptible to Bullshit

Photographer: Clay Banks | Source: Unsplash
  • Writers with large audiences can make claims that everyone should do something based on anecdotal evidence and personal experience.
  • Self-improvement gurus are notorious for backing up their claims with anecdotal evidence.

Confirmation Bias Perpetuates Our Preference for Bullshit

detecting bullshit
detecting bullshit
Photographer: Joshua Sortino | Source: Unsplash
  • If you watch Fox News, it’s easy to convince yourself that immigrants are stealing jobs and all leftists are destroying the country.

Three Questions That Help You Determine When Something is Bullshit

detecting bullshit
detecting bullshit
Photographer: Kelly Sikkema | Source: Unsplash

1. What Exactly are You Trying to Say?

Bullshit artists will immediately start to clean it up. They’ll say, “This is what I am talking about. And, and make the claim as clear as possible because we know that clarity is an important antidote to bullshit” say, John Petrocelli

2. How Do You Know That?

3: Have you Considered This?

“Skepticism in the context of uncovering bullshit means bringing a healthy amount of polite doubt when it comes to evaluating evidence for or against an assertion,” says John Petrocelli.

A Vast Marketplace of Bullshit

detecting bullshit
detecting bullshit
marPhotographer: Folco Masi | Source: Unsplash

Self-help books

Much of what we read in self-help books sounds amazing in theory but fails in practice. Talk to someone who thought they could use the law of attraction to sit on their butt and dream their way to fame and fortune. Even John Assaraf, who was in the movie, said the most important message that was left out was the law of GOYA (Get off your ass).


  • Two, when you put a charismatic speaker in front of an audience, you can persuade people to do almost anything. This is how people end up in cults.

Personality Tests

Why You Need to Develop The Ability to Detect Bullshit

Photographer: Mulyadi | Source: Unsplash
  • Keep you from making reckless decisions and taking reckless risks
  • Keep you from wasting money

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