The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Key To Bullshit Spotting …
October 29, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Corporate Evil, Cunning, Insight

Yes I’m back.

Yes, I had a great time and yes, I finally saw my windmill in the flesh.

But it was work. It really was.

Now, of course, I know you don’t believe me and think I basically blagged another free ‘holiday’, so it’s only apt that today’s post is about bullshitting. Or more specifically, how to spot when someone is bullshitting.

Which I am not. I really was working.

Anyway, I digress …

Recently I came across something called, ‘Will Betteridge’s law of headlines’.

It is a concept that changes the way you will look at newspapers, research reports and planning documents forever.

In essence, Betteridge’s law states:

‘Any headline that ends in a question mark means the story can likely be dismissed.’

That’s right, if the headline has a question mark at the end, the likelihood is the answer to what is being suggested is “No”.


Because if the story was true, then the headline would have been written from a totally different perspective … a perspective based on facts, not suggestion.

For example:




See the difference?

One is ‘attention bait’ while the other is what would have been written if the story had merit.

You know … when there is undeniable and consistent facts to prove their point of view.

But it’s not just newspapers that do this … how many research reports have you read that offer provocative ‘trend statements’ based on either a ridiculously small sample size or some ridiculous ‘future implication thinking’ and don’t get me started on planner documents.

Or political manifestos.

Especially political manifestos.

I love this ‘law’.

Of course I know there are exceptions … and I also know that sometimes, asking a question can lead to new thinking or different perspectives on old issues … however when an organisation does it because their business model is based on ‘selling’, it serves as an interesting early warning whether you should pay any attention to what is being said or simply move on to something that has some definitive value in it.

20 Comments so far
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Is this a horrible dream from which we will eventually awaken and find ourselves in a world of milk and honey?

Comment by John

I would imagine a world of milk and honey might not be the nicest dream to have either John.

Comment by Rob

You’re back. Did you have a nice holiday? Do you feel relaxed? Did you even pretend to do any work. Shockingly I found this post a bit interesting but I always find the easier way to spot bullshit is by seeing if a planner wrote it.

Comment by DH

You found this interesting? Who are you? What is wrong?

And I went for work. Yes, I had a day to entertain myself – which was a Sunday, an official day off for everyone – but the second day was a full-on workshop and you know how painful those things are. Trust me, I deserve compassion not pisstaking. Not that I’ll get any,.

Comment by Rob

Definition of confusion: when a planner writes about a theory on how to spot bullshit.

Is it true or is it bullshit? Help.

Comment by DH

There is no dilemma. Rob didn’t come up with this theory, he just reported what someone else said.

If it makes you feel better, you could say Rob “copied” someone else’s work, which sounds much more in line with your planner conspiracies.

Comment by Bazza

Backhanded compliment at its finest. Andy will be proud.

Comment by Rob

I ache for his praise.

Comment by Bazza

why the fuck havent you returned any of my calls or fucking emails? this better be some prewritten shit because if you are avoiding me i will rain shit on your bald head. yes, youll be a real fucking shithead. now get back to me fuckface, i need something from you. i know, i must be fucking ill.

Comment by andy@cynic

It was pre-written, so I’m calling you now.

Anything else you want? Maybe your washing picking up?

Comment by Rob

i wish i knew this when i fucking had a job. the shit i would have caused with this information would be beyond your pea brained imagination. but in typical fucking fashion you tell me it too late leaving me to reflect on what could have been. you partypooping fucking bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Why is it “party pooping” seems more offensive than all the other offensive things you say?

Comment by George

Welcome back Robert. I can’t write any more, I have to go through tomorrow’s presentation and remove all the statements ending in a question mark.

Comment by George

He’s still ruining your life then George. Join the club.

Comment by DH

campbell. fucking humanity over since 1970.

Comment by andy@cynic

the original weapon of mass destruction.

Comment by andy@cynic

the axis of evil. with curves.

Comment by andy@cynic

You do want me to get back to you don’t you? Just this sort of thing – much to your probable amazement – is not the best way to get what you want. Just thought you’d want to know …

Comment by Rob

well that was more antifuckingclimatic than the first night with wife #1. and that was fucking bollocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wow, that’s impressive.

Comment by Rob

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