On Bullshit by Harry G Frankfurt

On BullshitTakeaway: Bullshit, like Truth is hard to define. But still worth thinking about.
Purchase Links: hardcover, kindle edition, Audible.com audiobook (Audiobook is cheapest right now)

This is a serious book.  Primarily philosophy and linguistics.  I bought it because I both have problems with exagerating my certainty about things and people that always seem to be certain about their own opinions (I know that means I am irritated by myself).

Honestly, I am well aware I am uncertain about my own opinions.  I often am working through ideas as I am writting or speaking outloud.  But I mistakenly present them as “final thoughts” too often instead of “trial thoughts”.

The other things that is increasingly concerning to me is the loose view of truth that some Christians seem to have.  By that I don’t mean that they don’t believe in ultimate truth.  In fact it is the people seem to fight strongest for the concept of ultimate truth that seem to want to ignore truth that counters their own beliefs.  A classic example is creation/evolution.  I hear creationists frequently cite statistics or ‘facts’ that just are not true.  And they don’t want to be corrected.  JesusNeedsNewPR did a post about a facebook conversation that shows the issue exactly.  (I know that some evolution believers do the same thing. But I am talking about Christians here and “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”)

Another good example is the prevolence of beliefs in Urban Myths among Christians.  I have a friend that kept sending mass emails spreading urban myths (fake stories or beliefs that keep getting spread and modified).  I corrected the facts a couple times and basically was told to stop showing them the truth because they were not really interested.  I also have had friends start investigating before they send things, so I am not claiming all Christians react against the truth.  Instead I think that there is a relationship to the written word, authority and Christians view of what is ‘truth’.

On Bullshit attempts to define the difference between bullshit and lying.  So one discussion is about a conversation where one person (who really is not feeling well) says, “I am feeling as if I were a dog that had been run over by a car.”  If she had been well then it would have been a lie.  But she was sick, so it was not a lie.  But it was not really the truth either.  She cannot really know what a dog feels like when it has been run over by a dog.  At the same time she was not trying to really tell the person that she was actually a dog or that she had been run over.  She was communicating feelings, not fact.

Bullshit is compared to hyperbole, story telling, fakery, and other not quite truth words.  In the end it stands alone.

This is a quick book.  I read it in just over an hour.  It is only 80 pages in paper.  But it is interesting and fairly readible.


This is the second book I have completed on my android phone.  I may start reading more on my phone than my actual kindle if this keeps up.  Still prefer the eink screen of the kindle, but always carrying my phone has definite advantages.  It is a much better experience than reading on my old blackberry.

I picked up On Bullshit from Amazon early this week. Amazon has started a page of Daily Kindle deals.  These are 18 books that are on sale for $2.99 and are 40 to 80% off.  So far this week I have picked up 5 books from the daily deals books.  It might be a very bad thing for a compulsive book buyer like me.  (By the way if you are still reading, I get a small percentage of purchases when you click on my links to Amazon and buy stuff.  Even if it is not what I am linking too.  Purchases from Amazon both support my book buying habit and pay for hosting and other costs of the blog.)

0 thoughts on “On Bullshit by Harry G Frankfurt”

  1. I’m loving the Amazon Daily Deals. Got 2 devotional books today and a couple of other interesting books yesterday. I’ve noticed that Thomas Nelson publishers have been randomly dropping the prices on some of their kindle books, so it is worth occasionally searching their books, sorted by from lowest to highest price.

    Not like I need more kindle books. One click purchacing makes it entirely too easy. Maybe I won’t look too closely at my card statement this month……


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