Brandolini's law

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Brandolini's law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage that emphasizes the difficulty of debunking false, facetious, or otherwise misleading information:[1] "The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it."[2][3]

Origins[edit]

It was publicly formulated the first time in January 2013[4] 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 journalist Marco Travaglio and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attacking each other.[5][6]

Similar concepts[edit]

Other notable thinkers and philosophers have noted similar truths throughout history.

In his 1786 Letters on Infidelity, George Horne wrote:

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.[7]

In 1906, famed American author Mark Twain dictated (in volume 2 of his autobiography[8])

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!

Another similar concept was formulated by economist Roy Radner in 1993, who 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.[9]

In 2005, Russian physicist Sergey Lopatnikov anonymously published an essay[10][11] where 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.

In debating, the Gish gallop is a technique that focuses on overwhelming an opponent with as many arguments as possible, without regard for accuracy or strength thereof.

A frequently cited, but ultimately unattributed quote[8] of similar meaning is

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

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. ^ Leonardo Ambasciano (27 December 2018). "Ghosts, Post-truth Despair, and Brandolini's Law". An Unnatural History of Religions: Academia, Post-truth and the Quest for Scientific Knowledge. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-350-06239-9.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Bullshit Asymmetry Principle – Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  5. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Twitter reply". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  6. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Twitter reply". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  7. ^ Horne, George (1786). Letters on Infidelity. Clarendon Press.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Radner, Roy (1993). "The Organization of Decentralized Information Processing". Econometrica. 61 (5): 1109–1146. doi:10.2307/2951495. JSTOR 2951495.
  10. ^ Lopatnikov, Sergey. "Исследование геополитики". polit.ru. Retrieved 22 Jun 2020.
  11. ^ Lopatnikov, Sergey. "/". livejournal.com. Retrieved 22 Jun 2020.