Brandolini's law

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Brandolini's law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage that emphasizes the effort of debunking misinformation, in comparison to the relative ease of creating it in the first place. It states that "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it."[1][2]

Origins[edit]

It was publicly formulated the first time in January 2013[3] by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer. Brandolini stated that he was inspired by reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow right before watching an Italian political talk show with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and journalist Marco Travaglio.[4][5]

Similar concepts[edit]

In Economic Sophisms (1845, 1867), Bastiat expresses an early notion of this law:

We must confess that our adversaries have a marked advantage over us in the discussion. In very few words they can announce a half-truth; and in order to demonstrate that it is incomplete, we are obliged to have recourse to long and dry dissertations.

Other notable thinkers and philosophers have noted similar truths throughout history. In his 1786 Letters on Infidelity, George Horne writes that:

Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject. And as people in general, for one reason or another, like short objections better than long answers, in this mode of disputation (if it can be styled such) the odds must ever be against us; and we must be content with those for our friends who have honesty and erudition, candor and patience, to study both sides of the question.[6]

Mark Twain is sometimes erroneously quoted as saying that:

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.[7]

His actual quote, dictated for his 1906 autobiography, is:

The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance… How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again![7]

A similar concept was formulated by economist Roy Radner in 1993. Radner considered the performance of an organization that processes information in terms of both the number of processors required to review data items, and the time delays associated with processing data items.[8][further explanation needed]

In 2005, Russian physicist Sergey Lopatnikov anonymously published an essay in which he introduced the following definition:

If the text of each phrase requires a paragraph (to disprove), each paragraph – a section, each section – a chapter, and each chapter – a book, the whole text becomes effectively irrefutable and, therefore, acquires features of truthfulness. I define such truthfulness as transcendental.[9][10]

The Gish gallop, a term coined in 1994 to refer to creationism debates, is a rhetorical technique that relies on overwhelming an opponent with specious arguments, half-truths, and misrepresentations that each require considerably more time to refute or fact-check than they did to state in the first place.[11]

The yoga scholar-practitioners Mark Singleton and Borayin Larios write that several of their colleagues have "privately" described their "aversion to public debate" with non-scholars because of Brandolini's law.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Williamson, Phil (2016). "Take the time and effort to correct misinformation". Nature. 540 (7632): 171. doi:10.1038/540171a.
  2. ^ Jim Thatcher; Andrew Shears; Josef Eckert (April 2018). "Rethinking the Geoweb and Big Data: Mixed Methods and Brandolini's Law". Thinking Big Data in Geography: New Regimes, New Research. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 232–. ISBN 978-1-4962-0537-7.
  3. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Bullshit Asymmetry Principle – Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  4. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Twitter reply". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  5. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Twitter reply". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  6. ^ Horne, George (1786). Letters on Infidelity. Clarendon Press.
  7. ^ a b Evon, Dan (2016). "Did Mark Twain Say 'It's Easier to Fool People Than to Convince Them That They Have Been Fooled'?". Retrieved 20 Mar 2021.
  8. ^ Radner, Roy (1993). "The Organization of Decentralized Information Processing". Econometrica. 61 (5): 1109–1146. doi:10.2307/2951495. JSTOR 2951495.
  9. ^ Lopatnikov, Sergey. "Исследование геополитики". polit.ru. Retrieved 22 Jun 2020.
  10. ^ Lopatnikov, Sergey. "/". livejournal.com. Retrieved 22 Jun 2020.
  11. ^ Scott, Eugenie. "Debates and the Globetrotters". Talk Origins Archive.
  12. ^ Singleton, Mark; Larios, Borayin (2020). "4. The Scholar-Practitioner of Yoga in the Western Academy". In Newcombe, Suzanne; O'Brien-Kop, Karen (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies. Abingdon, Oxfordshire. pp. 37–50. ISBN 978-1-351-05075-3. OCLC 1192307672.