Brandolini’s Law

Bullshit

Brandolini’s law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage which emphasizes the difficulty of debunking bullshit: ‘The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it.’

It was publicly formulated the first time in January 2013 by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer. Brandolini stated that he was inspired by reading Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ right before watching an Italian political talk show with journalist Marco Travaglio and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attacking each other.

In 2005, Russian physicist Sergey Lopatnikov anonymously published an essay where he introduced the following definition: “If the text of each phrase requires a paragraph (to disprove), each paragraph – a section, each section – a chapter, and each chapter – a book, the whole text becomes effectively irrefutable and, therefore, acquires features of truthfulness. I define such truthfulness as transcendental.”

A similar concept was formulated by economist Roy Radner in 1993, who considered the performance of an organization that processes information in terms of both the number of processors required to review data items, and the time delays associated with processing data items. Also, in debating, the Gish gallop is a technique that focuses on overwhelming an opponent with as many arguments as possible, without regard for accuracy or strength thereof.

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