Brandolini's law

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Brandolini's law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage which 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 1906, famed American author Mark Twain dictated (in volume 2 of his autobiography[7])

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.[8]

In 2005, Russian physicist Sergey Lopatnikov anonymously published an essay[9][10] 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[7] 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Twitter reply". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. "Twitter reply". Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Lopatnikov, Sergey. "/". livejournal.com. Retrieved 22 Jun 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)