Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

Bullshit Meetings


bullshit meetings

Those meetings in which people appear to have lost sight of what they are trying to achieve.

Following Hanlon’s razor, I decided to believe that often times, it is made by people that think well and simply do not realize how useless the meeting is.

During those meetings, I tend to feel several kinds of cognitive dissonance.

At first, it is very difficult to discriminate between a useful meeting that I did not understand and a bullshit meeting. My epistemic modesty tells me to favor the former while Occam’s razor suggests it is the latter. There comes the first dissonance.

Then, when I start comforting the belief that the meeting is indeed bullshit, I start trying to explain its flaws and how it is not an appropriate way to reach its objective. In general, I am confronted to rationalization and empty explanation of how the meeting might actually be useful. I cannot understand how clever people might fail to see how flawed such a meeting is. The fact that hints add to indicate the meeting is bullshit reinforces the “bullshit meeting” hypothesis, while the fact people are blind to it reinforce the “I might be wrong” hypothesis. Therefore the dissonance increases.

I always try to do my best, and that means behaving accordingly to my values. In such meetings, I have the choice between:

follow my rationaliteam value
try harder to explain what sounds wrong to either convince them or be convinced otherwise. This generally leads to very complicated discussions with plenty of fallacies to listen to and analyse along the way (see also why do humans reason?).
followy my pragmatism and the dichotomy of control
just let people talk and try to find another way to grow from the meeting, likely in analysing silently the arguments and try to write down how it will eventually fail, so that I can eventually learn from it.

Both approach look good to me. But it is easy to fall into the trap of simply feeling good and simply shut up while I could have helped make things better. Hence I fell much unease, not able to decide between my attempt of always doing my best and the possibility that I might have fallen into a seducing trap. Also, the default choice is doing nothing, and this is not a good reason to choose this option.

This leads to my second dissonance: Am I a person that does its best or do I simply do things that feel good?

Actually, this not that far from applying the method « je t’aime pour plein d’autres choses, vient on parle d’autre chose ». I can try drawing a bullshitometer to help me find out the threshold between “I try hard reasoning with them” and “this is a lost cause, let’s do something else” and feel better choosing one or the other.

Also, such meeting are interesting because they help serendipitously challenge my morale intuitions

Notes linking here