This article starts out by defining bullshitters and therefore bullshit as: "‘Bullshitters’ are individuals who claim knowledge or expertise in an area where they actually have little experience or skill. "
They at least somewhat remedy this by mentioning the better partial definition used in `On Bullshit` which is shared with the word "humbug": "deceptive misrepresentation, short of lying, especially by pretentious word or deed, of somebody's own thoughts, feelings or attitudes”"
The important difference is that bullshit is not lies, and you do not have to "have little experience or skill" on a topic to spread bullshit on that topic, all you need is a disregard for the truth, in favor of whatever is convenient to you which could overlap with the truth or not. In this way this definition is almost directly in opposition to Frankfurt's which makes me think this paper is a bunch of bullshit.
edit: Frankfurt's own words on his definition of bullshit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1RO93OS0Sk&feature=youtu.be...
I've seen these people be promoted to positions where they can do serious damage, no longer a mere developer not knowing what the hell you're meant to be able to do - but a lead developer crippling an entire team.
In many cases this is an impossible problem to solve - with non-technical executives sitting above the non-technical managers; a layer-cake of bullshitters blind to bullshitters with a vested interest (born of self-preservation) in remaining so.
I tried escaping - from my bumpkin locale to Boston, a 3 hour trip every morning and 3 hours back, until I couldn't handle it five months later and went tail back to the same team with the same issues. Here, I'm still hopeful to eventually figure this out.
they add to this dust storm of fud that allows these people to exist.
Time travel or me not understanding what those numbers mean ?
A decently run sprint planning session with a retrospective at the end will highlight who didn't actually do anything. The killer feature is that these people volunteered the amount of effort for the work and then have to explain why nothing got done.
They eventually leave the team once they realise they've been discovered.
(Indeed, I have done it once myself when I was trying to leave but they were dragging their feet about signing the paperwork.)
Then, if the bullshitter gets to the end of the sprint and says they didn't complete a 1-2 day task in 10 days, you can start asking why. They do this consistently across 2-3 sprints, you know something is up. Assume they're more junior than their job title and try giving them easier tasks. Still not getting much done? They're a bullshitter. Fire them / raise with their manager.
Another contributing cause of this can be that they have gotten into the habit of accepting other people's bullshit.
Bob says "I don't think I understand enough about X to do task T well".
Sue, (partly worried what people would think of her if she negotiated similar time for learning) feels great discomfort hearing Bob's self-deprecating* statement. Motivated to escape this discomfort, she 'helpfully' tells him that he is just suffering from impostor syndrome.
(Bullshit: It might be true, but the function to produce the statement did not take real-world evidence as a parameter)
Bob mostly-believes this and doesn't feel confident that it is wise to allocate his time to learn X. He should 'just get it done'.
Bob starts working on task T and feels frustrated and confused. Bob starts asking questions on slack that anyone with a solid understanding of X would know are irrelevant. He does not get helpful answers.
Bob, hearing that he's trying to 'understand the universe' doesn't see a way forward but to put more time into task T. He stays up late working on it ineffectively.
Bob goes into standup having accomplished very little and gained little understanding. Bob's duty to his team and his health is to confidently state this truth. Bob is sleep-deprived and ashamed of his lack of progress. He feels motivated to escape this discomfort. He says the task will be done by standup tomorrow.
Bob stays up late again. Bob accomplishes little. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLBO7L5G2DQ
10 days later, Bob still does not really understand how to make progress on his task.
Bob gets fired shortly thereafter. He has multiple hypotheses for what he should have done better, but none he is confident in. At his next job, he is on hyper-vigilant alert for a similar situation. When he encounters it, the memory of getting fired and the uncertainty of what to do makes him feel deeply uncomfortable. Discomfort-avoidance leads him to get on hackernews rather than focus on his work.
* "I have gaps in my skills and am capable of learning" is a healthy problem to have. "I am unqualified to judge when I need more understanding of something to move forward" is an unhealthy problem.
Thus, we should exercise a duty of care to the truth when telling people that they have Impostor Syndrome.
If Bob did stress this very strongly with Sue, and Sue was the person in charge of allocating tasks, then yes of course Sue is to blame. Giving people tasks they can't do is bad.
Perhaps Sue thinks that Bob should be able to figure it out within the 10 days and doesn't need more than that to both investigate and complete the task? If there is a large knowledge imbalance and Sue knows a lot more about the task than Bob then maybe she should take on that task instead.
So many variables!
The trouble is if Bob doesn't know he can do it or not. It can be very hard to tell if you're actually confused about something or if you are just making excuses.
Sadly, if the latter, there really is only one way to stop making excuses.
Note: While I am feeling very distressed these days. I want to reassure y'all that I am not going to stop making excuses. There are too many people who love and care about me dearly whom I know would be devastated.
> make the right people know about it.
You cannot _make_ someone else know something. Even if you to grab onto their skull and scream into their ear, it would do no good. (I assume. I have not tested this.) You can only say what you believe with whatever rhetorical skill you can muster. They can still choose to trust you with something you say you don't know how to do.
Whether the subcomponent is physical or psychological, sometimes the only way to credibly communicate about a risk is through the medium of catastrophic failure.
I still do not know how to persuade people that I DO NOT have psychic powers -- other people's brains are separate from mine.
In other situations it's not just bullshit but fraud, so we consider it another category.
Software itself is unforgiving of bullshit. If it's buggy as hell, you can't just talk your way out of it. It's also opaque enough that it's difficult to definitively distinguish between incompetence, bullshit, straight-up lying, and just failing at a difficult problem (if only because of insufficient resources). It takes a significant amount of work to make that kind of distinction and that work doesn't necessarily translate from project to project.
Something I find disingenuous in this study is the failure to follow up on competency. "High bullshit index" individuals claim with higher frequency to be able to calculate the petrol consumption of a car, and are confident in their popularity. Are they wrong? Immigrants are more likely to bullshit when they are confronted with language they don't understand - but they are also highly experienced at figuring out things they don't understand after the fact.
I found it queer that the tasks asked about where relatively mathematical, and the domain they used to measure bullshit was also mathematical... if the checklist of "could you find the gcd of two numbers" "could you find all the complex roots of this polynomial" etc. were interpreted as "if you were prompted (in good faith) on a homework assignment to do this task, are you confident you could do it?" (this is a much more ecologically valid situation than being asked to do something meaningless or impossible), then the answer learned through hard experience might correctly be "yes", despite the respondent "not actually knowing what they were talking about".
Food for thought anyway. I think the article takes an exceptionally otherizing stance towards would be bullshitters. (And uses some... hopefully ironic? ... rhetoric. "We all know a bullshitter" is the classic fallacy of appealing to popular belief).
I think that statement is far too broad: I can think of some fairly bullshit free cultures, like many Scandinavian countries.
I can also think of people from specific religions that I generally find to be bullshitty, versus people from the same country but a different religion that appear to me to be much more honest.
Also a lot of people I meet from the USA appear to me to be extremely bullshit oriented compared to New Zealanders... Perhaps that is due to my own selection bias because of the type of people that emigrate or travel to New Zealand, or because I tend to meet businessmen?
Tangentially to the point, I'm going to hazard a guess that "people who travel to other cultures" are going to be more bullshit-oriented than average, due to factors jknoepfler referenced above, eg "If you're a non-native language speaker and someone asks if you understand something, you're probably used to having to figure it out offline".
The point of my comment was to think critically about how they interpret their findings, in light of their very own findings.
I'm culturally from the US west coast. I have an instinct that directly asking someone from a face culture to admit ignorance is 'sensitive'
The 2nd phrase you learn is "den xero", do not know. (δεν ξέρω)
Some cultures prefer to be polite and therefore lie, some cultures prefer to tell the truth.