Extending Bullshit Studies – more from Academia

No_BS_logoEmeritus Professor Harry Frankfurt’s  essay-that-turned-into-a-book ‘On Bullshit’ (see Annals of Improbable Research, March | April 2009, volume 15, number 2, p. 25 ) set the stage for further academic research on the subject of BS. And now the field has been explored further with a paper in College English, Vol. 73, No. 3, January 2011, Rhetoric and Bullshit. In which author, Professor James A. Fredal, of the Department of English at The Ohio State university, coins a (possibly) new term – “Taurascatics”.

“The study of bullshit should occupy an important place alongside rhetoric because taurascatics is the antistrophe of rhetorical theory, for both are concerned with the politics of semiotic interaction, and with the frameworks within which that interaction will be produced, interpreted, and judged.”

The professor examines in turn :

• The Bullshitter (the originator of the BS)

• The Bullshit, (the content), and

• The Bullshitee  (the recipient).

And provides examples of the kind of BS one might encounter on a daily basis : e.g.

• “Collateral damage” for civilians accidentally killed in military actions.

• “Rightsizing” for firing people, and

• “Alternative interrogation techniques” for torture.

Also see:

“Deeper into Bullshit.” from the late professor G.A. Cohen, All Souls, Oxford. (Contours of Agency: Essays on Themes from Harry Frankfurt. Ed. Sarah Buss and Lee Overton. Cambridge: MIT P, 2002.)


• Many thanks to professor Fredal for his assistance.

• The Logo is taken from the header of professor Cohen’s paper.

• The Bullshit Gazette is, sadly, no longer in print


2 Responses to “Extending Bullshit Studies – more from Academia”

  1. Just Observing Says:

    No discussion of this fascinating sociolinguistic issue could be complete without Arthur Herzog’s overlooked 1973 classic “The B.S. Factor”, which is still available on Amazon. Clearly this is a subject which warrants further examination.

  2. What I’m Reading: March 2016 | graph paper diaries Says:

    […] on bullshit and academic infighting, along with a proposal to call the study of bullshit “Taurascatics“. I’m […]

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