A man dressed in a yogi costume and sitting on the floor is asked what his secret to being so happy is, and he replies, “Don’t argue with idiots.
Surprised, whoever asked him the question couldn’t help but drop a “Well, I don’t agree.” The other man, with a Gandhian aura, replies: “He’s right.
This curious anecdote helps us to introduce a maxim that we should introduce into our daily life: Brandolini’s law. If you want to know more about this interesting article, we invite you to keep reading and you will be surprised.
What is Brandolini’s Law?
Brandolini’s law is also called the principle of asymmetry of nonsense, the principle of asymmetry of nonsense, or the principle of asymmetry of the asshole, with pardon (in English it has become popular under the name of “Bullshit asymetry Principle”).
It is a maxim that runs on the Internet and which underlines how difficult it is to try to dismantle a false belief or information of questionable quality, proclaiming that the amount of energy needed to refute the nonsense is far greater than that needed to produce them.
This curious law was formulated and popularized in January 2013 by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer who posted the following comment on his Twitter account:
“The asymmetry of shit (sic): The amount of energy needed to disprove shit is an order of magnitude greater than that to produce it.”
“The asymmetry of speech: the total energy required to refute the nonsense is of a greater magnitude than to produce it.”
This comment, spelling error included, reaches viral proportions within hours. According to Brandolini himself, he was inspired to publish this maxim after reading Daniel Kahneman’s book “Think Fast, Think Slowly” (2011) just before attending a political debate between journalist Marco Travaglio and the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, attacking each other.
This principle it is closely linked to the debate on fake news and cognitive biases. In his book La Démocratie des crèdules, the French sociologist Gérard Bronner argued that to refute a lie one had to present very solid arguments, while nonsense often uses cognitive biases, making them appear more plausible than scientific explanations which are usually much more complicated. .
Laurent Vercueil, neurologist and researcher at the Institut de Neurosciences de Grenoble (France), believes that Brandolini’s law has the following aspects.
1. Impact asymmetry
Spreading the nonsense makes them more impactful than any subsequent attempt to disable them.
2. Asymmetry of memory retention
The imprint that the speech leaves in the memory is much deeper that any information which contradicts it then, however truthful it is.
3. Asymmetry of the anointing
He who spreads the word is anointed with a beneficial aura while whoever tries to be right is seen as a scarecrow who does not understand anything or who has been convinced by the official speech.
Principle of asymmetry of stupidity and sanity
In a world where new technologies have such a big impact, it is strongly recommended not to argue with people who, under anonymity, drop all kinds of nonsense, each larger than the last. Arguing with someone who will never admit that we are right is of no use to us beyond feeling a lot of angst, frustration, and anxiety.
We can also apply this to people we know, family and friends who are sometimes a little hard to get along with. Almost no one changes their mind when they argue, whether they are right or wrong. There are few times when people, after having had an intense and heated debate, enlighten us and willingly agree to question our beliefs in the face of new evidence.
Most of us mortals are blinded by confirmation, seeking out and emphasizing what “confirms” our already well-established beliefs and rejecting what we see that contradicts them. Therefore, trying to convince someone can be very costly in time and effort, which can drain us both physically and mentally and negatively affect our mental health.
The bottom line is that when it comes to our mental health, we have to justify ourselves. not waste time in a discussion that leads nowhere. Giving arguments to someone who doesn’t want to hear them is like giving honey to a donkey.
Saying nonsense, nonsense and nonsense is very easy. Let’s be honest, we all have experience, even those of us who come through the lives of intellectuals and connoisseurs. It’s inevitable that once in a while we speak on our elbows and beyond our means, saying things that just aren’t true, either because we’ve exaggerated them or because we really believe in them.
Controlling yourself and avoiding rags is tricky. We see someone let go of a sovereign mezmez and we want to prove them wrong, and most importantly, that we are right. If we are unlucky enough to fall into one of these debates because we couldn’t resist the temptation to argue, there is an unequivocal signal as to the best time to end it: to mention Adolf Hitler.
This phenomenon is called Godwin’s Law, although it is more of a statement. Basically this law states that sooner or later in every chat the worst, worst person of late will be mentioned. While this law is often tied to discussions on the Internet, it is perfectly applicable in real life. The longer a chat, the more likely someone is to mention this ridiculously mustached gentleman, and, as you know, absurd chats tend to stretch like a gum.
Corn the best way to avoid absurd discussions breaking out in our immediate surroundings is to simply not reinforce them.. If a family member (eg a typical brother-in-law) or friend (eg our colleague incel) is inclined to let go of nonsense, the best thing we can do is apply the wise and fortuitous assumption. by Mr. Alberto Brandolini, talk to him and avoid giving him what he was looking for: a tape. The more you feel ignored about letting go of huge nonsense, the less likely you are to keep letting go in the future.
- Brandolini, A. (2013) The Asymmetry of Bullshit: The amount of energy needed to disprove shit is an order of magnitude greater than to produce it.
- Swynghedauw, Bernard. (2020). The Brandolini Principle and Fake News. medicine / science. 36. 654-654. 10.1051 / medsci / 2020114.
- Williamson, P. (2016). Take the time and effort to correct the misinformation. Nature. 540. 171-171. 10.1038 / 540171a.
- McCarthy, I. and Hannah, D .; Pitt, L .; McCarthy, J. (2020). Facing indifference to the truth: facing the shit of work. Business horizons. 63.