Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bullshit Theory Update

Thanks to Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo, for alerting me to the existence of The James McConvill Blog:

This blog is not for the faint-hearted or narrow-minded. It is about fostering the transcendence of social and academic thought rather than settling for what is safe and secure. Some people will be offended. I'm fine with that. The trade-off is that many more people will be enlightened, reinvigorated... and hopefully even inspired. I hope you enjoy the ride.

James' views on the state of academia are at least interesting and entertaining. Here, he lets us know where we can find real legal academics, as distinct from the jaded tarts hanging around Law Faculties waiting for a philosophical sugar-daddy to come along and whisk them away to a life of fame and fortune, or the outright bullshitters who infest all part of the academy. Real legal academics are people like James, oddly enough; they've had op-eds published in the major dailies.

That last one particularly got my attention, because it seemed a good test case for the application of my own researches into Bullshit Theory, which, as James says:

... has emerged as part of mainstream philosophy and should be taken seriously. Just recently, Princeton University philosopher Harry Frankfurt released a small book titled, On Bullshit (2005, Princeton University Press), which has sold truckloads of copies worldwide.

My own work in this area, as you know, focuses on developing a reliable statistical metric of bullshit. It's still very much a work in progress. After reading James' post on academics, I've found myself torn between two alternatives. The first is to put in some more work on the basic model of an ideal piece of bullshit which is needed to establish a sound footing for statistical Bullshit Theory. The other is to continue work on the three days and several weeks novel I began writing around 12:05 Saturday. Decisions, decisions.

And a little disappointment too; because with the BS-95 scrapped, thanks to Zeppo Bakunin's precise and very correct formulation of the null hypothesis, I don't have the means to do the statistical testing which would show which of the following statements fits James piece on academic bullshitters:

H0: the amount of bullshit in this article is consistent with its having been assembled completely at random;

H1: there is not enough bullshit in this article to be consistent with random chance (and it might therefore be a worthwhile read);

H2: there is too much bullshit in this article to be consistent with random chance (which, incidentally, doesn't make it any less a worthwhile read);

My guess is that it's H0, based purely on this little purler where, as commenter Steve notes, McConvill neatly hoists himself on the Cretan paradox:

Due to the way in which many universities have traditionally operated, bullshit is rife. A number of academics do not operate in the “reality-based community” ...

Reinvigorated, hopefully even inspired? Actually, I think I might be.

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