My name is Josh Bernoff and I hate bullshit. So do you. But the difference between us is: I intend to do something about it.
After 40 years in academia and the corporate world, I’ve had my fill. I’ve seen it all. Articles from respectable publications full of generalizations and filler. Spurious statistics. Consultants’ reports replete with buzzwords but lacking in evidence. Endless reams of press releases about nothing. Email that rambles on and won’t get to the point. Enough.
Writing without bullshit is three things. It’s clear, it’s brief, and it’s not boring. It’s also valuable and rare. I want us all to understand how to create it and how to value it. I know how to write this way, and I know how to help you, too.
Writing filled with bullshit, on the other hand, is ubiquitous. Anyone can write — the tools are free, and the distribution channels are open to all. Anyone can send you an email, post on Facebook, blog, write for Huffington Post. Even professional writers of various kinds overwhelmingly create bullshit. On campus, their professors praised them for bullshit-filled papers. At work, they observed the bullshit their colleagues created and learned to create more of the same. We’re all hip deep in it. We know something’s wrong, but we just ignore the stink.
This is no joke for me. It’s my mission. Here’s what I am going to do:
- I will make a serious, analytical study of the various forms of bullshit in the world and how and why it got there.
- I will reveal how, once you remove the bullshit, writing becomes simple, powerful, and true.
- I will work toward a theory of bullshit and great writing, which I will then lay out in a nice neat package for all: a book called Writing Without Bullshit. (This is not an idle threat — writing books is what I do.)
Along the way I’ll call out both the crap and the powerful, direct writing on this blog. I will not play favorites — I’ll skewer and praise people on all sides of the political spectrum, in the corporate world, or wherever. I promise you right now it will be both enlightening and entertaining.
I need your help, too. I need you to send me bullshit. Just click on the submit bullshit link on my site. I’ll wade through it and showcase what you sent, and explain how they should have written it. You’ll see, if you get out of your own way and just write plainly, it’s not that hard. You just need to unlearn the bad habits.
I’m going to spend the next year on this. Are you with me?