Today I have mostly been learning about… “bullshit”

The name of this post echoes my previous, much longer post entitled Today I have mostly been learning about… “Fuck”. However, it would be somewhat of a lie to say that I had been spending most of my day on this…

As you’ll see from the citation, this was from a book on Qualitative Methods. However, it amused and intrigued me… and thanks to my amazing OCR software and scanner, this took little effort. So without further ado, enjoy learning a bit about ‘bullshit’:

Bullshit in the outback

Of all the definitions of ‘bullshit’ read so far, I’ve yet to find one that discusses the source himself, the bull. I’m speaking from many years experience of working with, and observing, wild cattle in our far north. Like the males of other animal species, wild bulls often fight over harem rights. Typically they go through a display routine something akin to ‘come any closer, and I’ll punch your lights out!’.There’s a lot of bluffing, swaggering, mouthing off, and literally bullshitting. The process might go on for minutes or hours, but all the while the bulls are constantly dribbling shit from the back end and paddling it around with their tail. You can always tell when a bull is in fighting mode because his arse-end is smothered in green slime. They circle around each other with their noses down, pawing up as much dust as they can (think ‘bulldust’), bawling each other out and sniffing at each other’s shit. Does that sound like some academic discussions you’ve witnessed! The point is, the issue of who wins is most often settled in these preliminaries. The process might go on for a while, but one or the other has already conquered, without the potential danger of actually locking horns. One short rush and it’s all over. In conversations among the stockmen, use of the term ‘bullshit’ was almost invariably in this context. If someone was suspected of bluffing/boasting/overstating their ability to ride, root, drink or fight, then he was ‘full of bullshit’ or ‘bullshitting’ or simply dismissed with ‘Ahh bullshit!’. (Eric Whittle personal communication, 2006)

From Silverman, D., 2007. A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Qualitative Research, Los Angeles, Calif: SAGE, p. 122.

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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

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