What is a reasonable formal alternative to 'bullshit'?
Bob isn't making a very good argument. In fact everything he says is bullshit.
What can 'bullshit' be replaced with that is a reasonable facsimile of what is intended without being tendentious?
Bullshit - definition and etymology
"eloquent and insincere rhetoric," 1915, American English slang; see bull (n.1) + shit (n.), probably because it smells. But bull in the sense of "trivial or false statements" (1914), which usually is associated with this, might be a continuation of Middle English bull "false talk, fraud" (see bull (n.3)).
Frankfurter wrote an entire (but slim) monograph discussing its nuances spending the first 20 of 67 pages not even coming to a definition.
His definition of 'bullshit' was statements of potential facts about which the utterer does not care of its truth. That is, bullshit is somewhere off to the side from truth and lies, where the speaker knows what is correct and either says something concordant or not with that. Bullshit can be true or false; the point, to the speaker, is that they don't know or care about its truth value, just that it convinces someone (it may end up convincing the speaker!).
Others have slightly different ontologies for the word, maintaining the lack of knowledge, but instead of trying to convince others, it is merely uttered to sound a certain way, to sound like it is has import, but fails to do so on inspection. Late-night THC enhanced pseudo-intellectual conversations, Sokal hoax texts, and AI chatbot conversations. Meaningful at first glance but meaningless on inspection.
Either way, the term bullshit is used to call someone out on their statements without accusing them of something so intentionally heinous as lying.
The difficulty with the term 'bullshit' is that it points to very useful concepts but is somewhat taboo. I am looking for a term that captures the meaning but not the taboo, can be used in formal or otherwise taboo-adverse situations.
There are many possible alternatives but they all seem to fall short in numerous ways.
There are the quaint folksisms and minced oaths of:
balderdash, baloney, blarney, blather, bosh, bull, buncombe, bunk, bunkum, claptrap, codswallop, flap-doodle, flim-flam, flummery, fustian, gobbledygook, guff, hokum, hooey, horse-hockey, humbug, malarkey, phooey, piffle, poppycock, prattle, rigamarole, tommyrot, tosh, twaddle.
These are all nonsense words - they don't just mean nonsense, they -are- nonsense. They stand out like twee bowdlerizations of nothing that take you right out of the discourse into a drunk undertaker at a wedding's cash free bar. They all sound like they're from the same Lewis Carroll poem, but if he grew up in Kansas in the 1890's.
There are the waste/offal/excrement metaphors of:
implying empty worthlessness, which bullshit certainly is, but these words connote something less taboo but still noticeably informal.
And then there is the single, literal:
The latter is the go-to for replacing 'bullshit' in polite company. It certainly fits the second definition, words that sound meaningful but on reflection are not. But many things called bullshit these days is of the first kind, intended to convince whatever the truth value. Very meaningful, just not with any belief on the speaker's part.
Is there an alternative to 'bullshit' that fills all these (admittedly negative) criteria? Works in formal situations, is not cutesy or metaphorical, is truth-agnostic, is not one of the above words?
Of course, one may suggest one of the above words in case I am wrong about them, but in any case give a justification as to why. And noun, verb, adjective, interjection, whatever, is OK as long as it fits in meaning.
Please, no malarkey. That is, no words from the malarkey list. They are awful.
As usual a single word is nice but not necessary, but a proverb is too much.