Editor’s Log: Brandolini & The Breuniverse - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Brandolini & The Breuniverse

In our July edition, my rather long feature called NJ Council Vacancies: A 2019-2023 Timeline of Neglect generated more than a few phone calls and emails regarding Governor Murphy’s refusal to address vacancies on the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (Council).  I’ve already been in touch with several state legislators about the article, and I understand the issue was addressed at the Council’s July meeting that I missed due to ICAST.

An old friend and recognizable name for many Jersey Shore anglers, Bob Lick, also emailed me about Timeline of Neglect.  “During an earlier life I was involved in many sport fishing issues, including the passage of Marine Fisheries Management and Commercial Fisheries Act of 1979 (N.J.S.A.23:2B) establishing the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council,” Bob said, adding “I was extremely honored to be nominated and gain Senate approval to be seated on the original Council as a representative of the sport fishing community. I served another 11 years prior to moving out of state.”

Bob explained how he had been reappointed by several different governors, republican and democrat alike, and like many of us he expressed confusion with the “process” that the governor and his staff can’t seem to grasp.  “Did council members during the past 40 some years just drop out of the sky? No, there was/is a process,” Bob stated, explaining how he went through the same procedures as all subsequent Council members. “The process has worked all these years, so use it Murphy. Why make easy things difficult?” he asked rather rhetorically.

“I feel the Murphy administration is feeding the public The Brandolini Law,” he added.  Out of respect to readers – and my own mother who periodically reads this column – let me paraphrase Brandolini’s Law a tad; it’s also known as the (ahem) BS Asymmetry Principle, and was coined in 2013 by an Italian programmer named Alberto Brandolini to emphasize the great effort required to debunk misinformation compared to the relative ease of creating it in the first place.

Specifically, Brandolini’s Law says the amount of energy needed to refute BS is an order of magnitude much larger than that needed to produce it.  While Brandolini gets the credit for this rather humorous observation, the principle has been around for as long as politicians have walked the earth.  In 1845, French economist Frédéric Bastiat expressed an early notion of this law when he said this:

“We must confess that our adversaries have a marked advantage over us in the discussion. In very few words they can announce a half-truth; and in order to demonstrate that it is incomplete, we are obliged to have recourse to long and dry dissertations.”

Fresh from a week at ICAST in Florida, I was invited to sit down for an hour-long conversation with actor, comedian, satirist, social commentator and rabble-rouser Jim Breuer for his podcast called The Breuniverse.  Turns out Jim was very interested in talking about Governor Murphy and his industrial wind projects at the Jersey Shore, with the former SNL cast member especially intrigued about the effects of offshore wind on fishing.  Born and raised on Long Island and a long time New Jersey resident, Breuer seemed quite fascinated by the potential impacts of industrial offshore wind on the future of summer flounder fishing.

Industrial offshore wind impacts on coastal fisheries have not been of interest to most folks in the mainstream media; thankfully there are a few headlines popping up of late that should have some politicos paying attention.  When Breuer asked my opinion of “why” this information has been mostly ignored by the press, my immediate response was Brandolini’s Law.

When a politician wraps a nugget of misinformation inside a tasty, climate change wrapper, we’re bound to spend months trying to get to the heart of the BS center.


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