We all know about Bullshitters, you know the type of person who answers a question or speaks with such a load of unfathomable tripe, that simply taking a breath would have been a more efficient use of air...
"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so
much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share.
But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather
confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being
taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate
concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there
is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a
conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other
words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, "we have no theory."
Frankfurt, one of the world's most influential moral philosophers,
attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic
combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry
humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related
concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters
misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by
deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit
need not be untrue at all.
Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a
certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether
anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their
end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are
irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many
innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the
practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not.
Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of
this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than
Excellent! Can't wait to read it....
Iv'e posted before about language, weasel words and bullshitters that I have come across, so this book it right up my alley.
One of the best books I read last year was Death Sentence by Don Watson (one time political speech writer and Paul Keating biographer). Death Sentence is a brilliant (profound and funny) little book in which Watson looks at how corporate and political speak is attacking and infiltrating every-day public speech, complete with its store of cliches, jargon, platitudes and weasel words to hide or twist the truth.
He followed that up late last year with Weasel Words, which is sort of like a Death Sentence Companion Dictionary, and now he has a new website; weaselwords.com. It has been set up in response to the flood of letters and emails sent to Don
since the publication of his books:
Seth Godin: A guru who has penned a stack of books and articles around the theme of listening to your customer, giving your
customer what your customer wants, giving your customer something
extra, making your customer feel special. Except if you one of his customers, apparently.
You see, Seth publishes a lot of his works in PDF e-book format (like the excellent Bootstrappers Bible), so readers can dowload them, print them and read them like real books. But some folks (like Doc and Jeff) would prefer that Seth use the more open format HTML, and wrote to him to tell him so.
Surprisingly, Seth offered not much more than an "up-yours" to the feedback from his customers:
"We use PDFs because they're a lot more booklike. They read
better. They stick together when you forward them. They print better.
I know they're not in HTML. There are 6 trillion other web pages to choose from if you want that."
So there! Do as I say, not as I do, hey Seth. Or like Chris noted, the above could be translated as the very un-Seth like "I'm going to keep doing things this way because it's
better for me this way, and you, Mr. Customer, can go somewhere else if
you don't like it."
It is an interesting discussion though: PDF's vs websites (HTML) for publishing. I was thinking about it and recalled a discussion on documents and books inside Dave Weinbergers Small Pieces Loosely Joined:
"The concept of the document has become elastic. Before computers we knew exactly what documents were. (But now) the word document has different meanings inside and outside of the computing world. Outside, documents are are unchanging; inside, documents are there to be changed."
So is Seth really saying; that he wants his publications to be "unchanging" by not publishing them in "relatively ugly but open, unowned, nonproprietary, standard and non-infuriating HTML?" He wants them to move into the outside world (like a normal book) so that they are "unchanging." And isn't this fair enough? Isn't this a reasonable expectation of an author?
Trouble is that his customers want more, they want to discuss them online, they want to offer suggestions online and want to have the power to force changes via these discussions and suggestions...
Rich uses some of Toms stuff in speeches he gives. Here's some of what he calls" ReImagine Ah Ha Moments" So get out the post-it notes, here goes:
"Fighting the last war..." the best analogy for the battle the big corporations are facing today, using this analogy, the message always sinks in.
"The five week plan" I'm currently struggling with a five-minute plan... THE FIVE YEAR PLAN IS OBSOLETE. It's also a cop-out as the fifth year is a carrot on a stick, it's always five years away.
"Bees do it..." very relevant to a job I'm working on at the moment.
"I want that damn book..." I always say that the customer isn't always right, that's BS. However, the customer always has the right. This talks to that.
"Think..." I just love this.
"Ribbon power" so true, yet so untapped.
"What we sell..." It never ceases to amaze me how few of my customers understand what they're actually selling, specifically the banks.
"Experience magnification" A great way of looking at things, and a great yard stick for your product. Missing Link works this way, and it's been effective for us.
"Beauty contest" I'm implementing this at the moment with our quotes, I'm certain the results will be good.
"Gaming the system" this is a challenge I give in talks I do, I think the sculptor analogy is brilliant.
Pgs. 198 - 200
Read these pages, if they don't increase your heart rate and getting you going then nothing will. I hate
mediocre success - it's for cowards.
"outside-the-company thinking" Too many of the companies I deal with have taken their culture thing too far, it actually promotes a hive mind i.e. nothing new. I believe poorly run induction session are (partly) to blame here.
"The point of a presentation..." I own a presentation company, this point is so true. I took a permanent marker, and before I knew what I was doing it, I wrote it on my office wall (I think I started something).
'"Train train train" this figure scares me, but I believe it - if this is your company, be ashamed.
"Where do good new ideas come from..." So true, yet lazy HR departments apply a cookie cutter approach.
"Courtesy check" he's not wrong here, we men need to catch a wake up.
A topic close to my heart, I'm busy with a book "De-education -- the downfall of higher education" lots of good stuff here.
"the best swordsman" what a great, and true analogy.
"There's a war on" I intend on winning.
"Leaders forget" this is outstanding, it soon found a place on my wall.