Coping with bullshitters

Coping with bullshitters

There’s the truth. There are lies. And there’s bullshit.

To the bullshitter, the appeal of bullshit is that it doesn’t care about true and false. It makes things so much easier. If you don’t care what’s true and what’s not, you’re be totally free to build the world just like you want it to be. You just write your own story.

Fake news don’t mean anything to the bullshitter because it’s not about the truth at all. It’s about goals and reaching those goals, no matter what.

So the bullshitter paints a picture that has the biggest possible appeal to his target group. And he paints it as gloriously as possible. Whether it’s correct or not doesn’t matter as long as it helps to achieve the goal.

That’s also why you can’t argue with a bullshitter about facts. He just doesn’t care. And he doesn’t need to as long as his people are attracted by his painting more than by the facts. It’s all about attraction. It’s fine as long as it attracts.

This isn’t much of a problem as long as enough people care for the truth and will insist on digging deeper. But it will be a huge problem if a majority stops caring for the truth. If they resonate best with what makes them feel better and don’t question, anymore, whether that’s actually good for them. If they stop seeking out differing views and alternative interpretations.

The biggest problem of all is that you can’t fight bullshit with bullshit because it would make you no better. Yet, facts won’t work, either, if the appeal of the bullshit is just so much stronger than that of the truth.

This is why empathy is such an important skill nowadays. We need to become better and better at understanding what matters to people. Not to paint more fake pictures that appeal to them. But to understand how to attach to what matters to them. To discover common ground. And to resonate with what’s important to them in a way that’s true to the facts. To be able to compete with the bullshit while still doing the right thing. So that people feel what’s right and then see what’s right and then do what’s right.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz