The Life-Changing Science of Detecting B******t
Expanding upon his viral TEDx Talk, psychology professor and social scientist John V. Petrocelli reveals the critical thinking habits you can develop to recognize and combat pervasive false information that harms society in The Life-Changing Science of Detecting B******t.
Bullshit is the foundation of contaminated thinking and bad decisions leading to health consequences, financial losses, legal consequences, broken relationships, and wasted time and resources.
No matter how smart we believe ourselves to be, we’re all susceptible to bullshit—and we all engage in it. While we may brush it off as harmless marketing sales speak or as humorous, embellished claims, it’s actually much more dangerous and insidious. It’s how Bernie Madoff successfully swindled billions of dollars from even the most experienced financial experts with his Ponzi scheme. It’s how the protocols of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward resulted in the deaths of 36 million people from starvation. Presented as truths by authority figures and credentialed experts, bullshit appears legitimate, and we accept their words as gospel. If we don’t question the information we receive from b******t artists to prove their thoughts and theories, we allow these falsehoods to take root in our memories and beliefs. This faulty data affects our decision making capabilities, sometimes resulting in regrettable life choices.
But with a little dose of skepticism and a commitment to truth seeking, you can build your critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills to evaluate information, separate fact from fiction, and see through bullshitter spin. In The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit, experimental social psychologist John V. Petrocelli provides invaluable strategies not only to recognize and protect yourself from everyday bullshit, but to accept your own lack of knowledge about subjects and avoid in engaging in b******t just for societal conformity.
With real world examples from people versed in b******t who work in the used car, real estate, wine, and diamond industries, Petrocelli exposes the red-flag warning signs found in the anecdotal stories, emotional language, and buzzwords used by bullshitters that persuade our decisions. By using his critical thinking defensive tactics against those motivated by profit, we will also learn how to stop the toxic misinformation spread from the social media influencers, fake news, and op-eds that permeate our culture and call out b******t whenever we see it.
Social psychologist Petrocelli surveys the "causes of bullshit, its potential benefits to individuals, its consequences to society, and how people can better detect and dispose of its unwanted effects" in his spirited debut. Bullshit claims, he writes, are not "based on truth, genuine evidence and/or established knowledge," and the bullshit artist is likely to disregard all evidence that disputes their claim, focus primarily on anecdotal evidence, and engage in pseudoprofundity. Petrocelli shines in describing how people can pay a steep cost if they're fooled by those who have honed their disingenuous selling approaches: car dealers who deceive "by omission," for instance, can cost hapless buyers thousands of dollars down the road in parts that need replacing. His advice for not getting taken advantage of is sound and straight-forward: when buying a used item, get it professionally inspected, since the salesperson likely has glossed over its defects. As for countering other deceit (including political), the key is critical thinking, which he defines as the ability not to be swayed by rhetorical sleights-of-hand, by maintaining "a passionate drive for clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, consistency, logic, completeness, and fairness." While Petrocelli isn't the first to tackle the topic, readers will appreciate the wealth of examples and practical advice.