Monday, November 11, 2013

Transcendental Bullshitting

Work in progress .. 

Update 3: Heavily edited for brevity and added Mrs. Ghose to the list, December 19, 2014.

Update 2: November 29, 2013.

There are different types of ignorance.


Belonging to the first category, to paraphrase Mark Twain, are "thousands of bullshitters who live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others." But the focus of this post is on the BSers from the second category: those who recognize their ignorance, and profit from it.

Part-1 (October 2, 2013)
Last week, I've heard two dharmic thinkers make an important and related point. The first one was on facebook, and the second one was a tweet.

The first category can be debated, while the latter can only be exposed. It is sensible to avoid debating with certain kinds of people: The ones not bright enough to dazzle you with brilliance, yet stupid enough to try and baffle you with bullshit.

Part-2 (Update 1: November 11, 2013)

If I assumed in Part-1 that only India's secular minions were afflicted by this disease, I was wrong. The rot starts at the top. After observing several tweet samples of eminent historians, secular sadhus, newspaper chief editors, some simple ideas around the 'art of bullshitting' began to crystallize.

Step 1. You have to discover your cognitive limitations and deficiencies way before anyone else does. Now our Indian Rishis too, informally speaking, advise this, so far so good. For example, if you are constantly discovering evidence that contradicts virtually everything that you postulated would happen, you are on the right track. Kinda like George Costanza of Seinfeld. If I recall correctly, Rajiv ji once pointed out that those who support and enrich the discredited 'Aryan Invasion Theory' tend to do so on the premise that if "X" can happen, then "X" must have happened. Thus, if there are a zillion possibilities, you are moronic enough to conclude that the world must have followed that one path that you like and will profit from the most. Now along comes an inconvenient evidence "Y" that contradicts your pet theory "X". You must be able recognize this inconvenient truth much before anybody else in order to continue to profit from "X".

Step 2. Exploit the vital secret (that only you truly understand the full depth of your own ignorance in the matter) to your advantage, and to such an extent that it stuns your opponent into frozen disbelief. Thus if fact 'Y' contradicts pet theory 'X' then you calmly state that the fact 'Y' cannot have happened! In other words you have achieved a transcendental state of Zen-like denial, a higher state of avidya and maya, if you will. You've realized that given your mediocrity, you are going to be a lifelong bullshitter at best, but rather than quit, you transcend the depression of this discovery by turning it into a commercial weapon of mass obfuscation. Think Deepak Chopra. This way you are always one step ahead of the others on the "learning" curve and you get to ride the gravy train.

If you examine the body of work of the Indian sepoy writers of history, they have built an entire genre of hi-fi work: historical fiction. Like the legend of 'Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks', and the 'Lord of the Rings', and 'Hogwarts', their stories are largely consistent, but only after the initial fabrication. Eventually of course, if you take away that foundational BS from hi-fi works, you are left with that kind of stark nudity that only exposed ignorance creates. Nevertheless, to top the merit list of idiocracy over decades requires a collective effort. Behind every prize idiot sepoy who wins a western award as payoff is an ecosystem that nurtured him or her. Which leads us to step 3.

Step 3. Spread ignorance. The ability of two transcendental bullshitters to recognize each other in a room full of strangers is uncanny. The world is full of such examples. If this is not Quantum Entanglement, what is? This is where dharmic peoples, who focus on individual karma, and taking responsibility for ones own actions, invariably fall short. Pooling resources to achieve collective stupidity requires not just a keen antenna for spotting a fellow BSer, but also discipline: Two gems must find each other and sacrifice their Ahankaar by giving up to each other the secret of their individual ignorance in the cause of greater profit. The collective is far more lucrative than the gain from individual idiocies. Sepoys Sibal, Shashi, Siddharth, Sagarika, and Sen are in the payroll precisely for their force multiplier value. Like Potemkin villages, the goal is to design a robust BS network of plausible concoctions with built-in redundancies. If Nehru the incompetent is exposed, then Nehru the secularist comes alive to combat, and if he is felled, Nehru the scientific rationalist is ready for battle. It's like a Chakravyuha of multilayer BS to befuddle fact-driven Abhimanyus.

This much is clear: It is mutually beneficial to debate those who still have enough conviction left to respect facts, even if we disagree with their world view, but the incorrigible can only be exposed.

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