speech by Neil Postman in 1969. As I see it, the best things schools can do for kids is to help them learn how to distinguish useful talk from bullshit. I will ask only that you agree that every day in almost every way people are exposed to more BullShit than it is healthy for them to endure, and that if we can help them to recognize this fact, they might turn away from it and toward language that might do them some earthly good. (Educating Kids, Critical Thinking)
apparently full text at http://amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0502/msg00037.html
Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial - notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, Sincerity itself is BullShit.
The description says: Rather, 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.
Related: Tom Scocca on Snark vs Smarm. Snark is often conflated with Cynicism, which is a troublesome misreading. Snark may speak in cynical terms about a cynical world, but it is not cynicism itself. It is a theory of cynicism. The practice of cynicism is smarm... Smarm should be understood as a type of BullShit, then—it expresses one agenda, while actually pursuing a different one. It is a kind of moral and ethical misdirection. Its genuine purposes lie beneath the greased-over surface... Where does the grease go? Smarm hopes to fill the cultural or political or religious void left by the collapse of authority, undermined by modernity and PostModern-ity.
Edited: | Tweet this!