Ashgabat, 8 December 2016 (nCa) — Brandolini’s law: ‘The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.’
This is attributed to Alberto Brandolini, an Italian independent software development consultant and that is why it is called Brandolini’s Law though Alberto himself prefers to call it ‘Bullshit Asymmetry Principle.’
Bullshit is a slang profanity term meaning ‘nonsense,’ and covers any talk or action viewed as deceptive, misleading, disingenuous, unfair or false.
The philosopher Harry Frankfurt of the Princeton University, in a monograph published in 2005 characterizes bullshit as a form of falsehood distinct from lying. The liar, Frankfurt holds, knows and cares about the truth, but deliberately sets out to mislead instead of telling the truth. The “bullshitter”, on the other hand, does not care about the truth.
This observation is called Harry Frankfurt’s Concept.
The British tabloid ‘The Daily Mail’ has been running a systematic campaign since last month to create the impression that President Putin of Russia could either be preparing to enter long-term treatment for some unspecified ailment or he could be planning an early retirement.
Loyalty to truth is not the main trait of The Mail. The problem here is that if untruth is repeated often enough, it starts to stick; it starts to make its way into the mainstream media. The gushing stream of the social media propels it to the grey zone where it becomes a candidate for being accepted as truth, not by all but by quite a few.
This is the art and science of rumour-mongering, also called brazen bullshitting.
The question arises: Is there any substance to the rumours that Putin may go into prolonged treatment or take an early retirement? If this is untruth, who could be spreading it and why?
This is the question nCa asked Grigory Karasin, the state secretary and deputy minister of foreign affairs of Russia at a press conference at the Russian embassy in Ashgabat on Wednesday.
Karasin said, “I am hearing this version for the first time and I don’t know which media spread such kind of thing. And, I read a lot and I surf the internet. In my opinion, this is complete fabrication, unfriendly to our president.”
He said, “As for physical fitness, I think, most heads of state can envy Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, as he exercises daily and is a keen participant of sports.”
“These rumors are not only hostile, they are groundless. I have no more comments on this issue. Who is behind this – it is necessary for journalists to deal with this,” said Karasin.
Karasin is a seasoned diplomat who has held a number of important appointments including the ambassador of Russia to the UK. He has described the speculations about Putin’s health or his possible intentions to go on early retirement as ‘groundless’ and ‘hostile.’
This forms the basis for looking into the nature of these rumours.
Let’s recall the Brandolini’s Law, mentioned at the start of this analysis: ‘The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.’
This is the dilemma of our age of information – the more we refute a piece of bullshit, the more it tends to gain credibility in the minds of a certain segments of the populace.
There are very few ways to choke the lifeblood of such rumours – exposing their roots is one of them.
The rumours about Putin started just about the time when Donald Trump surprised the world by winning the presidential elections.
It is a known fact that Putin and Trump see eye to eye on a number of issues and it is possible to say with quite a bit of confidence that relations between Russia and the USA would be a lot better than they have been at any time in the past.
This is unpalatable to some in the west.
The world would be a much better place if Russia and USA can work together on mutual and global issues without trying to undermine each other.
Putin is at the height of his popularity and Russia is showing a newfound self-assurance in its ability to thrive under economic pressure from all sides. Putin is also actively participating in all kinds of engagements and events. There is no reason to believe that he could be either in bad health or feeling the need to suddenly go into retirement.
On the contrary, starting next year, we may see the start of a genuine effort to make this world a better place, a world where Russia and USA may put economy and peace first.
Karasin said during the press conference when answering a question by a western diplomat: “The dialogue [between Russia and the USA under Trump] would be constructive and will bring both our countries and the international community the needed and expected results.”
Ignoring the bullshit is another good way to get rid of it. /// nCa