The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit teaches its readers how to avoid falling for the lies and false information that other people spread by helping them build essential thinking skills through examples from the real world.

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The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit Summary

To bullshit is to disregard the truth, the basic facts of life and the universal concepts that have long been acknowledged and verified, only to stick to a series of personal biases and ideas that don’t really make much sense. 

Therefore, to bullshit is not to lie, but more likely, to disregard the truth in all its obviousness, if that makes sense. Going through life, you’ll encounter many people who do so. People love to talk about what they don’t know and gossip.

Some of them are harmless, but other bullshitters can become dangerous. This is where you need to step back and analyze the situation carefully to distinguish the truth from the rest of the story. The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit by John V. Petrocelli will teach you the necessary skills to identify and shut down the bullshit in your life.

Here are my three favorite lessons from the book: 

  1. There are three reasons why people fall for bullshit in life. 
  2. People who think that they’re not susceptible to bullshit are more likely to fall for it.
  3. We tend to bullshit more when someone asks for our opinion on something and we feel pressured to answer.

Now that we’ve come up with the lessons, let’s uncover them and explore the ideas behind them!

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Lesson 1: People generally believe bullshit for three reasons.

Typically, it’s convenient to assume that the person in front of you is telling the truth and that their story cannot possibly be made up. What’s also convenient is to rely on already existing information in your brain to make decisions instead of exploring other points of view. Unfortunately, for your own benefit, you’ll have to rethink this mindset.

Generally, there are three reasons why people fall for bullshit:

  1. It aligns with their ideal view of the world, their existing memories, and the information that’s already in their brains. 
  2. They hear it for the first time, so the brain automatically accepts it as a truth. 
  3. They rely too much on intuition and their ability to detect bullshit. 

Let’s assume someone comes to you to praise a car that looks fantastic but costs a fortune to maintain. Also, let’s assume this is your favorite car. Naturally, when someone comes to tell you what an amazing car that is and how all the benefits outweigh the risks, you automatically believe it!

Another type of situation where we fall for bullshit is when we hear a piece of information for the first time. How can you disregard something you don’t know, right? Ideally, you shouldn’t argue with that person, but make sure to always double-check all facts presented. As much as you’ll hate to hear this, your intuition is not always right.

Lesson 2: You are more susceptible to bullshit when you fail to acknowledge that your intuition isn’t always right.

Generally, you have a much bigger chance of falling for someone’s bullshit when you don’t actively try to protect yourself from it. When you let your guard down is when you’ll believe every stupid thing you’re being told, and that’s not a good place to end up in.

I’m not saying that you should fear all people or ditch your meaningful relationships but always double-check the facts. For example, people who believed in a Ponzi scheme thought that they’ve found the business that will turn them into millionaires, that their hard work is finally paying off, and that all troubles were behind them.

Their gut was telling them to take a leap of faith and just go for it because it must be right. The story sounded good in theory, but the unknown aspects of this scheme are what left so many people broke.

If only they double-checked the facts, right? The lesson here is that you can’t let intuition run things for you. Sure, it can be right, and you should never ignore it, but rather explore it.

A healthy dose of intuition, combined with a willingness to fact-check and research everything can help you become more successful in your endeavors.

Lesson 3: When we’re not expected to share an opinion, we’re less likely to bullshit.

Harry Frankfurt, a well-renowned psychologist, suggested that people bullshit when they’re required to give their opinions on a given subject, no matter how prepared they are on it. 

What’s even more interesting is that we tend to do it even more when we’re talking to people who are less knowledgeable in a field than we are.

Simply put, if no one asks us about our opinion, we’re not that likely to bullshit. If there’s no pressure to contribute to a certain situation, our brain doesn’t go around thinking about what to say to get out of the situation looking good. 

The author suggests that nowadays people bullshit more than ever because we live in a world where information is flooding from many sources and we’re expected to be up-to-date. 

Bullshit also comes from people who like to think that they’re knowledgeable in a domain. They feel like if they get more people to agree with them, their assumptions will turn into truths. 

However, that’s not the case with people who truly know what they’re talking about. They’ll usually avoid trying to convince anyone of their beliefs because they already know the truth.

The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit Review

The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit will teach you an essential life skill: discernment. By learning the characteristics of a bullshit story and how to rely more on facts and less on intuition, anyone reading this book can improve their bullshit detecting skills. If you want to learn how to make smarter decisions in the future and read people better, I suggest you give this book a read.

Who would I recommend our The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit summary to?

The 30-year-old person who fell for a scheme and wants to learn how to avoid it in the future, the 27-year-old person who keeps failing in their relationships and wants to make better decisions when it comes to choosing their partner, or the 40-year-old person who’s looking to advance in their career by learning how to read people better and tell the bullshit from the truth in their business. 

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.