Friday, January 16, 2015

The Mountain of Lies Technique OR Brandolini’s Law

In July 2010 I wrote on David Brin's site here this thought:
"I began to recognize some time ago what I call the "mountain of lies" technique of political gamesmanship. A lie requires limited space, thought, and effort. Its refutation takes more space, time, and effort than the lie does. It's like missile defense.

"To be clear, on this matter the deniers spew the lies, and the scientific researchers are stuck with the effort.

"One supposes that some good can come from this, but it's an uphill slog and people should be aware of the tactic itself and not be sucked in without awareness of the structure of the common trap."

Preceding that, in 2009 someone called Mike the Mad Biologist wrote this essay (April 2009) titled "The Asymmetric Advantage of Bullsh-t" framing this as a problem similar to a decryption function - it's easier to encode a message than to decode, if your algorithm is one of a certain class. He mentions the inspiration for this line of thinking came from Julian Sanchez also in April of 2009.

 Now this is referred to as "Brandolini's Law," from a remark Alberto Brandolini wrote in January 2013. Discussed here as the "Bullshit Asymmetry Principle."

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

Also referenced is that the concept may also refer to the teoria della montagna di merda (“the Bullshit Mountain Theory”) as postulated by Uriel Fanelli, another Italian writer.

I suggest it is properly "Sanchez's Law" or "Fanelli's Law" but probably the recognition of it is more important than the name of it.

As a matter of fact, it's been around much longer, known as the Gish Gallop from "creationist" Duane Gish, and was named such by one Eugenie Scott.

Bullshit is well described here.

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