The bullshit problem #debtceiling

As a friend pointed out to me that The Daily Show has noted, the debate about the debt ceiling is ongoing because of a bullshit problem. I realized this while listening to President Obama’s speech about the debt ceiling last night. People are so accustomed to bullshit, especially in politics, that the default response to anyone’s statement is to assume that it is bullshit like everything else and dismiss it. That means that it can be very difficult to be heard when you are not bullshitting, even when you are the President of the United States (or perhaps especially when you are an elected official).

If you’re interested in this problem, then I would recommend a small book by philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt titled On Bullshit, from Princeton University Press. Videophiles can watch a 10-minute interview with him on the Princeton University Press website.

If, as Frankfurt says, the problem of bullshit is endemic of our times, how should librarians respond, given our role and potential role in the information ecology? (Not to extend the metaphor of bullshit to fertilizing the growth of plants…)