On The Bullshit Zone

By Paul Lemieux (plemieux@bellsouth.net)

Preface

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as the Internets and as timeless as optical backups and The Internet Archive. It is the middle ground between truth and lies, between fact and spin, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his misinformation. This is the dimension of social media. It is an area which we call ... The Bullshit Zone.

Introduction

We live in the “Bullshit Zone”.  In our lives in everyday society, between going to work, going to church, living our corporate lives, paying the bills, eating, sleeping, and propagating the species, there is a pervasive aura of bullshit that permeates the air we breathe, the food we eat, the beer we drink, the sites we surf, the TV we watch, the sporting events we attend, and the music we listen to.

This bullshit is sometimes very overt: “Buy Budweiser!” or “The Cowboys Suck!”.

The bullshit is sometimes more subliminal: “Because XXX is a racist, you can’t believe what they are saying here.”

But the bullshit is always there.  In a constant bombardment like radiation, we are exposed to the bullshit.  Some people are more resistant to the bullshit than others but we are all affected.  Like with radiation, there are impacts of getting a large cumulative dose of bullshit.  When you get a massive does of bullshit, instead of going bald, you buy into the bullshit, believing that everyone who doesn’t think the same way as you is stupid and evil.  You become a hater and a troll.

So what I’m going to do is lay out my “Unified Theory of Bullshit”.

The Unified Theory of Bullshit

Bullshit is a force of nature.  Similar to electromagnetism it exists in fields that surround all living things.

The most basic unit of measure of bullshit is called the cowpie ().  Dose is measured in cowpies per unit time (e.g., /hour).

Sources of Bullshit

Bullshit is generated by suppliers of misinformation who depend on the fact that most human beings cannot distinguish between belief and knowledge.  Sometimes the people dishing out the bullshit have received near-fatal doses of bullshit themselves and don’t even realize that they are spreading bullshit.

Measurement of Bullshit

Measurement of cowpies is very difficult to perform in a precise manner.  Like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, once you probe the bullshit to try to get a measure of how much bullshit there is, you lose the ability to distinguish what is bullshit from what is not bullshit.

Exposure Levels of Bullshit

There is a certain level of background bullshit that we are always exposed to.  It is believed that the level of 0.25 /hour is a nominal exposure level of bullshit to someone who is off the grid who does not read newspapers, surf the Internets, or watch TV.  You typically get this exposure by seeing signs and hearing people around you talk.

Being on the grid raises your background exposure level of bullshit to 2 / hour, mostly through spam email and unsolicited phone calls.  Table 1 shows typical exposure levels to bullshit that occur through routine participation in 21st century society.

Table 1.  Typical Bullshit Fluxes for Common Activities

Activity

Typical Exposure Time

(hours/day)

Typical Exposure Level

(/hour)

Facebook User

0.5-5

5

More than 50 Facebook Friends

0.5-5

10

Use a Cell Phone

12

0.25

Use a Computer

6

0.25

Watching CNN

1-2

2

Watching Fox News News

0.5-1

2

Watching Fox News Pundits

1-2

10

Watching MSNBC News

0.5-1

4

Watching MSNBC Pundits

1-2

10

Watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians

0.5

50

Reading Mainstream Media Sources (e.g., CNN, Reuters, AP, etc.)

1-2

4

Reading Alt Media Sources

1-2

10

Watching Sports Coverage

1-2

4

Watching Religious Programming

0.5

10

Watching The Daily Show

0.5

10

Reading Your Facebook News Feed

1-2

20

Case Study #1: Sendem Laughing

Sendem and his family live a simple life – they are on the grid with a non-smart cell phone but they only use it for phone calls.  They have an email address but they don’t use it much.  They don’t watch TV, but they do read their local newspaper.  They are fans of the Seattle Seahawks and watch every game.  Sendem is being exposed to 22.5 /day.

Case Study #2: Amanda Blame

Amanda is an avid Facebook user.  She has a small number of friends and generally only posts cat pictures and inspirational memes.  She doesn’t get a newspaper but uses her Apple News app to supply her with news.  She watches TV and loves the Rachel Maddow show and the Daily Show.  She’s not into sports. She is being exposed to 73.25 /day.

Case Study #3: Bartholomew Oobleck

Bartholomew is an obsessed internet user.  He watches all the pundits on MSNBC and has a lot of Facebook friends, all of which are similar consumers of bullshit.  His friends share lots of the bullshit that they see on Facebook.  Bartholomew refuses to watch FoxNews.  His guilty pleasure is watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians.  He’s exposed to 123.75 /day.

Anti-Bullshit Countermeasures

Short of going off the grid, which imposes many societal challenges, it is difficult to manage your exposure to bullshit.  It is difficult to avoid exposure without living completely devoid of contact with your fellow man and any news source that you read or view.  Every news source you see and hear is probably spinning some partial truth into the web of bullshit we are constantly being exposed to.

Having effective bullshit detectors is a valuable skill in today’s society, but bullshit detectors are an innate talent that some human beings have and others do not.

A better approach is to maintain a zen-like status of disbelief.  The first thought that needs to come into your mind when ANY piece of information is presented to you, is to assume that it is bullshit.  Remember.  Assume it is Complete and Utter Bullshit.  Then gradually try to investigate the information to try to sift through the bullshit and spin and try to discern the grain of truth that may actually be contained in the item.

While you maintain this zen-like status of disbelief, take a breath.  Ease off on the hatred that the bullshit is trying to instill in you.  Remember.  It is bullshit that is trying to get you all riled up and it is probably not even partially true, and certainly it is not completely true.

Don’t buy into the bullshit.