Bullshit and bullshitting entail a disregard for truth, knowledge, and the values and methods associated with genuine inquiry. However, there are many processes that can lead to such epistemic negligence, just as there are many types of bullshit, each with varied consequences.
Here I provide a broad overview of “bullshit epistemologies” from ongoing research in cognitive and social psychology, as well as philosophy and political science. Attitudes, biases, vices and beliefs encapsulated in concepts such as epistemic permissiveness, epistemic trespassing, epistemic spillover, pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity, discursive machismo, moral grandstanding, the guru effect, conspiracism and pseudo-rationality are all enablers of bullshit, but their respective mechanisms and interactions are still poorly understood. At this point in our so-called “post-truth” era, some conceptual clarification is in order, and the present talk is a preliminary attempt to do just that.
Sebastian Dieguez est chercheur en neurosciences cognitives au Laboratoire de sciences cognitives et neurologiques de l’Université de Fribourg, en Suisse. Il travaille sur la formation des croyances et la psychologie du complotisme. Parallèlement, il écrit régulièrement sur les rapports entre la psychologie et la fiction pour le magazine Cerveau & Psycho et rédige des fake news pour le journal satirique Vigousse. Son dernier livre est Total Bullshit! Au cœur de la post-vérité (Presses Universitaires de France).