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Brandolini's law

Page type: Sociocultural
Category: Politics

The bullshit asymmetry principle

A 2013 message by a person named Alberto Brandolini[1] led to the following quote becoming known as Brandolini's law:

The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than is needed to produce it.

In other words, spreading lies is easy and effortless, while refuting those lies takes much more time and effort.

Although "Brandolini's law" was chosen to name this concept[2], it is not a recent invention, as attested by this famous quote from 19th century author Mark Twain:

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes

Or is it? This phrase was never once written or spoken by Mark Twain, yet often gets attributed to him, despite how easy it is to find sources proving these words are not his[3].

This topical illustration of Brandolini's law should serve as a reminder that not everything you read or hear is true. In fact, it has been proven by many studies[4][5] that falsehoods spread faster and better than truths.

As we seem to be living in a post-truth world, it has become more important than ever to point out, disprove, and document misinformation. Though it does not always help in the short term, pointing out repeated use of made up bullshit eventually tends to hurt the credibility of a person or ideology in the long run. Keep at it.

Sources & Links

[1] Brandolini's law's original source on Twitter.

[2] Brandolini's law on Wikipedia.

[3] Quote investigator on a quote falsely attributed to Mark Twain.

[4] Fake stories travel faster than true facts , a study on how easy it is to spread misinformation.

[5] On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit , a study on how easy it is to get fooled by falsehoods if they look profound enough.

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