A year before his death in 1996, the beloved American cosmologist and author Carl Sagan wrote The Fine Art of Baloney Detection—the best 20th-century essay on the subject of bullshit. “In the final tolling,” he wrote, “it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy.” Citing aspirin commercials, Whole Life Expos, the use of dousing rods to find mineral deposits and “psychic surgeons” to cure all manner of disease, Sagan addresses the “steady rainfall of deception” that moistens modern life. “These, ” he writes, “are all cases of proved or presumptive baloney. A deception arises, sometimes innocently but collaboratively, sometimes with cynical premeditation. Usually the victim is caught up in a powerful emotion—wonder, fear, greed, grief. Credulous acceptance of baloney can cost you money. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 25 Essential Reading Transportable and transportive: the beauty of literature and its ability to absorb us in different worlds. Arts & Culture Issue 25 Lola Kirke Awkward and ascending: Actor Lola Kirke talks to Pip Usher about auditions, America and her next act. Arts & Culture Design Issue 25 Facial Recognition Finding friendly faces in functional objects. Arts & Culture Issue 25 On Narcissism Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. Arts & Culture Issue 25 One Plus Two Is Blue With synesthesia, senses overlap: Letters become colors, colors become sounds, sounds become tastes. Arts & Culture Issue 25 Personology Want a new partner who likes ironing and poetry? Science might help you find one.