(The bullshitter) does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are. Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit
Once again I’ve had a perfectly nice Saturday morning ruined by yet another set of “21st Century Literacy” skills dumped on my lap. Sent to me by my good (and I am sure well-intentioned) friend, Ian Jukes of Committed Sardine fame, this one comes from the New Media Consortium - whatever that is.
New Media Consortium Global Imperative: the Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit joins a couple others, including NCREL (Learning Point) eGauge 21st Century Skills and Partnership for 21st Century Skills, excoriating we simple educators for not doing an adequate job of preparing this current batch of kiddies for the big bad work world of the future.
If current employment trends continue, it looks like about 90% of our students will work for Wal-Mart where the most important job skills are:
- Looking good in a day-glow vest
- Passing drug screenings
- Living on the minimum wage, not getting ill, and coping with the relatives who are wiling to take them in.
For the other 10% of the workforce, their single, salient marketable skill will be knowing how to bullshit. (See professor Frankfurt’s definition above.) When, then, are the responsible think tanks going to call summits and issue papers addressing this serious gap in our schools’ curricula?
Since this is a beautiful morning and I’ve only been thinking about this topic for about ten minutes, the core competencies in bullshitting below are somewhat sketchy. You, dear reader, need to embellish.
The Bullshit Literate Student will:
1. Show no social conscience or balance when deliberately distorting factoids, data, or expert opinion in presenting a conclusion.
2. Skillfully use any medium and all persuasive techniques in order to convince others. This includes the ability to use technology to doctor images and edit text.
3. Consistently, vociferously, and blindly hold to a single point of view, and know that volume, repetition and rhetoric trump reason. (ie: Stay the course.)
4. Convincingly fake sincerity.
5. Ably disguise personal gain as public good.
6. Take a single incident or news story or incident and follow it to an illogical conclusion. (See employment prediction above.)
7. Claim any idea as original.
8. Deny prior knowledge. (ie: Nobody expected the breach of the levees)
9. Create a website, wiki, blog, or podcast. (beginning level). Find a publisher, broadcaster or corporate sponsor for whom the bottom line is the bottom line. (advanced).
10. Never, never, never show doubt.
OK, I think I have that out of my system. I’m going on a long - hopefully cynicism-draining - bicycle ride.
Other skills the Bullshit Literate should master?
2 Comments »
[…] Bullshit Literacy. Oh yes. This one really works for me. All those surface ideas that sound good but lack substance: 8. Deny prior knowledge. (ie: Nobody expected the breach of the levees) […]
Pingback by Tangled up in Purple » Slacker — September 10, 2005 @ 2:07 am
we have in washington, an administration that makes blatant use of these skills. they are completely in the open about it and have been since day one. and they got re-elected. conclusion: 1 through 10 above are not merely tolerated — they are rewarded.
i long ago came to the conclusion that a politician’s job is to listen to what people say, to look behind the words so you can give them what they *really* want, and then convince them that the two are the same.
Comment by jim shirey — October 4, 2005 @ 2:10 pm