By Casey Tolliver
An Ivy League professor was responsible for a table full of bullsh*t found in room 201 of the Crabbe Library.Rob Sica, an assistant university librarian in the library’s Research and Instruction Department, found the essay-turned-book On Bullshit, and on Friday moderated a discussion of the book as part of the Crabbe Library article discussion series, which is a roundtable-type discussion open for anyone to attend.
The article, written by Princeton professor emeritus Harry Frankfurt, theorizes the term “bullsh*t” and examines its usage and applications.
Sica felt that the piece might also serve as a booster shot to the English language.
“I thought about this essay because it seemed to be dedicated to improving the English language and clear thinking by calling attention to a concept or a term used rather loosely, and trying to show how that term actually has some conceptual content and trying to clarify what that content is, so that maybe we can use the word with greater precision,” Sica said. “Down the road it might help clear up the English language.”
According to the essay, there is a fine line between lying and bullsh*tting, but that the two are indeed separate concepts.
The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values, and in order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true.
In order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth, Frankfurt wrote in the essay.
“Bullsh*t is pretending to have a concern for the truth or falsity of what one is talking about when one really doesn’t care,” Sica said.
Nearly 20 people showed up for the forum, which sparked discussion and light-hearted debate pertaining to the sources of bullsh*t, and how it impacts the people’s views on politics, as well as other aspects of life.
“I found it (bullsh*t) dripping off the Internet… and in particular politicians,” said Mark Kouty, assistant professor of criminal justice and police studies. “You go to the Democratic message board and the people that support Obama are calling Hillary a liar and the people that support Hillary are calling Obama a liar. At first I thought it was just different folks looking at it from different angles, and then I read this essay, and thought, no, what they are both saying is bullsh*t.”
Eastern students are not exempt from being bullsh*tted, and are constantly being forced to either step around or step in bullsh*t, Sica said
Sica said Eastern students can better sift through the bullsh*t and find the relevant and legitimate matter if they educate themselves.
“Reading a lot helps,” Sica said. “Becoming a critical consumer of news media … paying attention to the sources of what you are getting your information from and trying to determine whether the sources have expertise.