Bullshit hiding in plain sight

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I talk about the bullshit in what we read all the time. I’m so deep into it that I’m inured to the whole concept. But I had an experience yesterday that helped me recognize just how pervasive the problem of bullshit is. Here’s the scene. I’m running a plain writing workshop for a group of … Continued

Synonyms for bullshit

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Sometimes you can’t call bullshit by its name. To avoid repetition, to write in places that prohibit curse words, or just to be more descriptive, you need synonyms. Thanks to Stephen Chrisomalis on a site called The Phrontistery, I now have a useful list of synonyms for bullshit. Here are some of my favorites. Descriptions … Continued

YouGov survey: People think 56% of what they read is bullshit

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With the help of YouGov, I got to ask more than 1,000 people how much bullshit they saw in the things they read. It varies, with an average of 56%. And it’s about the same across a variety of demographic categories. YouGov has a massive panel of people who answer online surveys: 1.5 million people. They gave … Continued

How not to apologize, by Donald Trump

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Donald Trump made piggish comments about women to Billy Bush, the cohost of Access Hollywood, in 2005. NBC released the video yesterday. The video makes clear that, at least in 2005, Trump considered bedding women as sort of a video game, one he plays to win with wealth and power. As Republicans began to distance themselves from … Continued

Why is there so much bullshit? (infographic)

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Did you ever wonder why you spend so much of your day wading through bullshit? Every worker must consume masses of information, but most of it is poorly written, impenetrable, and frustrating to consume. How did we get here? I’ve actually studied this question. In fact, Chapter 2 of my book explains it in detail. Basically: Reading … Continued

Fareed Zakaria says that Donald Trump is a bullshitter. Is he?

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CNN host Fareed Zakaria took the feud between CNN and Donald Trump to a new level yesterday, describing Trump as a “bullshit artist.” I’ve reviewed the literature on bullshit, including my own past analysis, and I agree. Trump’s bullshit passes (or perhaps, fails) the sniff test. Here’s the clip: What is bullshit? I’ve tried to be … Continued

Not sure if it’s bullshit? Try reading it out loud.

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I narrated the audiobook for Writing Without Bullshit this week, spending about 12 hours in the studio. It was a vivid reminder of how absurd some prose sounds when read out loud — which is a good test for whether your writing is bullshit. A good nonfiction audiobook sounds natural, as if someone is explaining something or … Continued

Talking plainly about bullshit is 15% more effective

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It’s better to excite a whole bunch of people and piss off a few, rather than trying to be nice to everyone. I have proof. I want to thank my friends at WriterAccess for finding that proof. I had agreed to do a Webinar for their audience of freelance writers and the people who hire … Continued