Truth-Tellers, Liars, and Bullshitters

Truth-tellers need to know the truth so they can say it. Liars need to know the truth so they can lie about it. Bullshitters don’t concern themselves with the truth so they can perform whatever serves them.

Bullshitters are particularly problematic.

We are starting to see this in AI tools like ChatGPT. The truth is not a consideration so much as providing a useful response (the performance). These tools certainly seem to fall under the “bullshitters” category.

We also see this in politics where the truth doesn’t matter, just the performance to an audience, serving their needs at that moment. If they were merely a liar, it would be easy to dispute that they lie because they know the truth.

Paraphrased some of this from The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman.

See also:

  • When Things Are Intensely Themselves

    There is trust in the world when things are intensely themselves. Nothing is lying about what it is and what it is not. Everything can be taken at face value—good willed or bad intentioned. It evokes a feeling of simplicity that comes when all things seem knowable and all problems are soluble.

  • Answer Required, Not Necessarily a Good One

    There are many times in business when an answer is required. A customer asking you a question about your product. An investor asking you about the market. A sales lead asking you about competitors.