On Bullshit [Short]

Before 1986, ‘bullshit’ was just another slang term for lies, nonsense, and exaggeration. In 1986, Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt published On Bullshit, which proposes a theory of bullshit that made the notion precise and available for further analysis.

Analytic Fitness™ is, in essence, an application of Frankfurt’s theory of bullshit to so-called ‘science-based’ fitness. Frankfurt’s theory is thorough but for fitness matters, the following often suffices:

“[A] BULLSHITTER MAY NOT DECEIVE US, OR EVEN INTEND TO DO SO, EITHER ABOUT THE FACTS OR ABOUT WHAT HE TAKES THE FACTS TO BE. WHAT HE DOES NECESSARILY ATTEMPT TO DECEIVE US ABOUT IS HIS ENTERPRISE. HIS ONLY INDISPENSABLY DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTIC IS THAT IN A CERTAIN WAY
HE MISREPRESENTS WHAT HE IS UP TO.”
Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit (p.54)

Over the years, the fitness industry has generated an unusual amount of bullshit. The recent trend towards ‘evidence-based’ or ‘science-based’ fitness has not made things better. If anything, science is easier to misrepresent than anything else. And it’s the perfect smokescreen for intentions.

I’ve had to warn you about its bullshitters on many occasions, and I’ll have to do it again in the future. Whenever I use the term, assume that I am using the term according to the above characterization and that I use ‘bullshit’ to denote the means by which bullshitters misrepresent what they are up to.

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