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The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

John V. Petrocelli

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

Experimental social psychologist John V. Petrocelli examines the nature of bullsh*t, what makes people susceptible to it, and how to avoid being deceived.


The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

by John V. Petrocelli


A lie is told with the intent to deceive through deliberately hiding the truth. Bullsh*t is different. Someone speaking bullsh*t simply does not pay regard to what is true. Bullsh*t is common in marketing and sales, self-help coaching, and political speech. People have used bullsh*t to make names for themselves in academia and finance. In purporting to make factual claims about the world, bullsh*tters ignore historical records or scientific methods. Sometimes they pass bullsh*t off as legitimate science.

John V. Petrocelli is an experimental social psychologist at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. He studies the causes and motives of bullsh*t, its social costs, and how it can be detected and neutralized. In The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullsh*t, Petrocelli examines the circumstances that allow bullsh*t to thrive and shows us how to recognize it.

Favorite quote

Failed bullsh*t detection is usually about things people don't do and the questions they don't ask.

- John V. Petrocelli

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