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Brandolini’s Law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brandolini’s law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, is an internet adage coined in 2013 that emphasizes the effort of debunking misinformation, in comparison to the relative ease of creating it in the first place. It states that “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.”[1][2]


The adage was publicly formulated the first time in January 2013[3] by Alberto Brandolini, an Italian programmer. Brandolini stated that he was inspired by reading Daniel Kahneman‘s Thinking, Fast and Slow right before watching an Italian political talk show with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and journalist Marco Travaglio.[4][5]


The persistent claim that vaccines cause autism is a prime example of Brandolini’s law. The false claims, despite extensive investigation showing no relationship, have had a disastrous impact on public health. Decades of research and attempts to educate the public have failed to eradicate the misinformation.[6]

In another example, shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, the claim that a student who had survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting had been killed by the bombing began to spread across social media. Despite many attempts to debunk the rumor, including an investigation by Snopes, the false story was shared by more than 92,000 people and was covered by major news agencies.[6]

In an example of Brandolini’s law during the COVID-19 pandemic, a journalist at Radio-Canada said, “It took this guy 15 minutes to make his video and it took me three days to fact-check.”[7]

The yoga scholar-practitioners Mark Singleton and Borayin Larios write that several of their colleagues have “privately” expressed their “aversion to public debate” with non-scholars because of Brandolini’s law.[8]

Environmental researcher Dr. Phil Williamson of University of East Anglia implored other scientists in 2016 to get online and refute falsehoods to their work whenever possible, despite the difficulty per Brandolini’s law. He wrote, “the scientific process doesn’t stop when results are published in a peer-reviewed journal. Wider communication is also involved, and that includes ensuring not only that information (including uncertainties) is understood, but also that misinformation and errors are corrected where necessary.”[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Williamson, Phil (6 December 2016). “Take the time and effort to correct misinformation”. Nature. 540 (7632): 171. doi:10.1038/540171a.
  2. ^ Thatcher, Jim; Shears, Andrew; Eckert, Josef (April 2018). “Rethinking the Geoweb and Big Data: Mixed Methods and Brandolini’s Law”. Thinking Big Data in Geography: New Regimes, New Research. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 232–. ISBN 978-1-4962-0537-7.
  3. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. “Bullshit Asymmetry Principle – Twitter”. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  4. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. “Twitter reply”. Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  5. ^ Brandolini, Alberto. “Twitter reply”. Twitter. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b Bergstrom, Carl T.; West, Jevin D. (2020). Calling bullshit : the art of skepticism in a data-driven world. New York. pp. 11–17. ISBN 978-0-525-50918-9. OCLC 1127668193.
  7. ^ Lapierre, Matthew (June 18, 2021). “Truth, lies and the disinformation problem that won’t go away”. The Montreal Gazette.
  8. ^ Singleton, Mark; Larios, Borayin (2020). “4. The Scholar-Practitioner of Yoga in the Western Academy”. In Newcombe, Suzanne; O’Brien-Kop, Karen (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies. Abingdon, Oxfordshire. pp. 37–50. ISBN 978-1-351-05075-3. OCLC 1192307672.

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