Despite the fact that the Zande’s tribe’s theories of witchcraft, oracles, and spells may sound absurd to a westerner in modern society, Appiah and Edison point out that this system is held together by secondary elaborations. Secondary elaborations are explanations to inconsistencies in a system of beliefs or thoughts that combine to form a “coherent system of mutually supporting beliefs.” Thus, if a Westerner were to argue with a Zande regarding the validity of their beliefs, this task would prove to be extremely difficult to the secondary elaborations that explain inconsistencies. Secondary elaborations serve an utmost importance in allowing us to find explanations for inconsistencies in our own systems of thought. Secondary elaborations function as a glue that holds conceptual frameworks together. I would argue that any argument, despite how absurd it may appear, can be backed up with secondary elaborations. If a belief or system of beliefs is held together with secondary elaborations explaining inconsistencies, so long as these secondary elaborations tie in and create a coherent system of thought, then it is extremely difficult to refute such an argument, despite the facts or knowledge involved in the attempt to refute such an argument.
In our modern age of the internet, with its boundless amounts of information and facts (or unsubstantiated speculations), our contemporary intellectual discourse has been damaged by the ramifications of excessive “bullshit.” Frankfurt sees bullshit as a blatant ignorance of the truth, or a general indifference to truth. His notion of “bullshit” is widespread throughout society, and we all succumb to it at times. Bullshit comes in many forms. In political discourse, the fundamental reason for the dramatic rise in polarization between the views of republicans and democrats is due in large part to the vast amount of bullshit spewed by both politicians and citizens on either side of the spectrum. People constantly attempt to argue and speak to issues that they know very little about. They blatantly ignore the truth and seek information that reaffirms their own beliefs. The affirmation of one’s own beliefs through the deliberate search for information that confirms those beliefs is known as confirmation bias. Bullshit has been exacerbated by the negative consequences of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias has trapped people in their own bubbles of thought. They isolate themselves from opinions and truths that contradict their preexisting notions and beliefs. If we want to reverse the implications of this complex, we must revert from our self-righteous ways and recognize that our knowledge in different areas is limited by our exposure and experiences. If people stop attempting to be experts in fields or topics they know nothing about, then our society may possess hope in ending all the bullshit. There is one important thing to consider, however. How do we separate facts from speculation, truth from falsehood? These are fundamental questions that society has grappled with for many centuries. In many fields where it is difficult to support beliefs with indisputable facts or evidence, such as the humanities or politics, it is extremely difficult to determine facts and end the bullshit. If the pest that is bullshit is to be exterminated, people must always think carefully about their arguments and acknowledge when they simply don’t know something. Our selfishness and pomposity in regards to our own beliefs does nothing but perpetuate bullshit. Recognizing our own limitations in thought and always putting the truth first are good first steps towards ending bullshit.