It is possible to save any belief from refutation through secondary elaborations, but through this method one might lose sight of their initial belief. Secondary elaborations consist of finding some explanation for a perceived error in a belief that protects the belief’s correctness. For instance, if one believes global warming is a myth, others might perceive error in that belief, citing the overall rise in Earth’s temperatures. The person who does not believe in global warming might use secondary elaborations to defend this belief, such as claiming Earth’s temperatures have always changed. However, making a secondary elaboration such as this distracts one from their initial belief. By using the Earth’s past temperature changes to defend the nonexistence of global warming, they are acknowledging that Earth is indeed getting warmer. The belief they defend has thus shifted to humans not being the reason for climate change. If challenged with errors in a belief, one can keep making secondary elaborations to explain the errors. However, the belief will likely become less focused as the debate goes on.
Bullshit is prevalent in the public sphere of contemporary discourse because many people play the short game. They do not care about presenting truth, for they focus solely on the immediate reaction to their words. What they fail to acknowledge is that their words will affect how someone else perceives truth. As James shows us, people perceive things differently, and their perception becomes their reality — this reality affects what they see as truth. Our perception of truth is influenced by those around us as well as those who came before us. Any bullshit presented to the public affects others’ perceptions of truth no matter what, even if it is only a small group of people. To reduce bullshit in contemporary discourse, people need to understand that their words are not short-term, for they can end up changing many people’s perceptions of truth.