Brandolini's law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage coined in 2013 that emphasizes the effort of debunking misinformation, in comparison to the relative ease of creating it in the first place. The law states the following:
The rise of easy popularization of ideas through the internet has greatly increased the relevant examples, but the asymmetry principle itself has long been recognized.
The adage was publicly formulated in January 2013 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.
The persistent claim that vaccines cause autism is a prime example of Brandolini's law. The false claims, despite extensive investigation showing no relationship, have had a disastrous effect on public health. Decades of research and attempts to educate the public have failed to eradicate the misinformation.
In another example, shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, the claim that a student who had survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting had been killed by the bombing began to spread across social media. Despite many attempts to debunk the rumor, including an investigation by Snopes, the false story was shared by more than 92,000 people and was covered by major news agencies.
The yoga scholar-practitioners Mark Singleton and Borayin Larios write that several of their colleagues have "privately" expressed their "aversion to public debate" with non-scholars because of Brandolini's law.
Environmental researcher Dr. Phil Williamson of University of East Anglia implored other scientists in 2016 to get online and refute falsehoods to their work whenever possible, despite the difficulty per Brandolini's law. He wrote, "the scientific process doesn't stop when results are published in a peer-reviewed journal. Wider communication is also involved, and that includes ensuring not only that information (including uncertainties) is understood, but also that misinformation and errors are corrected where necessary."
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.— Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms, First Series (1845)
- Big Lie
- Burden of proof
- False balance
- Gish gallop
- Hitchens's razor
- List of eponymous laws
- Poe's law
- Williamson, Phil (6 December 2016). "Take the time and effort to correct misinformation". Nature. 540 (7632): 171. doi:10.1038/540171a.
- Thatcher, Jim; Shears, Andrew; Eckert, Josef (April 2018). "Rethinking the Geoweb and Big Data: Mixed Methods and Brandolini's Law". Thinking Big Data in Geography: New Regimes, New Research. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 232–. ISBN 978-1-4962-0537-7.
- Brandolini, Alberto (2013-01-11). "Bullshit Asymmetry Principle: the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it". Twitter. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Brandolini, Alberto (2015-11-11). "@rpallavicini I discovered Uriel's post later :-) My inspiration was Daniel Kahneman…". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
— (2015-11-17). "@RPallavicini seeing Berlusconi vs Travaglio after reading "thinking Fast & Slow" :-)". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- Bergstrom, Carl T.; West, Jevin D. (2020). Calling bullshit: the art of skepticism in a data-driven world. Random House. pp. 11–17. ISBN 978-0-525-50918-9. OCLC 1127668193.
- Lapierre, Matthew (June 18, 2021). "Truth, lies and the disinformation problem that won't go away". The Montreal Gazette.
- 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. Routledge. pp. 37–50. ISBN 978-1-351-05075-3. OCLC 1192307672.
- Ladwig, Craig (October 21, 2022). "At last, a law for our times". Seymour Tribune. Retrieved 29 April 2023.