When I was a child, the moment my mom’s foot was in the door, my foster brother would run up to her and persist, “I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it!” She would sigh, look him straight in the eye and ask, “Exactly what didn’t you do?” It is no wonder that my mom often repeats the saying, “No one professes their innocence more than the guilty.”
Likewise, a good tell that someone is completely full of bullshit is when they insist that they are not full of bullshit. This usually consists of claiming to know “THE TRUTH” that “BIG [WHATEVER] DOESN’T WANT YOU TO HEAR” or going on-and-on about how intellectual, knowledgeable, or super rational they are or throwing around their credentials.
This is really obvious when anti-vaxxers are explaining “THE TRUTH” that “BIG PHARMA IS COVERING UP” or, you know, when my dad routinely tells me I’m gullible for believing in climate change because it’s all just a vast conspiracy concocted by “BIG GOVERNMENT” to take control of private companies and rule our lives. I should “THINK FOR MYSELF” instead of believing everything I hear, unless it came out of Jon Stossel’s mouth.
Family gatherings are fun that way.
Now, anyone who has run around among skeptic circles or even read a few blogs here and there or work within academia are well aware of truthiest truth tactics, where people (some unknowingly and some with a specific agenda) spread falsity by claiming to be disseminating “THE TRUTH”.
Those tactics are the bread-and-butter of well-financed propaganda machines, generally in the guise of “policy institutes” and “think tanks”, that pump out misinformation as their profession. It’s nothing less than pseudo-academia – putting on all the trappings of academic intellectual pursuits so that the public can’t tell the difference. Even the strongest points of consensus within serious fields of research are torn down, delegitimized, or presented as controversial.
This does real harm.
And even though the skepto-atheist brigade often do a profoundly good job of pointing out agenda-driven bullshit when it comes from anti-vaxxers, creationists, or climate denialists, they often ingest hook-line-and-sinker bullshit that conforms to their own biases, propagated by people using the exact same tactics.
So, baring unforeseen circumstance, I’m going to create a short series of posts explaining bullshitting tactics, using anti-feminist and anti-transfeminist rhetoric as examples.
I also plan to explore how we, as feminists, can keep each other honest in a rhetorical environment where facts are often politicized and where sincerely providing information is sometime mistaken for these same bullshit tactics.
To access the series click here.