Saturday, May 10, 2008

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Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com


On Bullshit!

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.

Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, we have no theory. I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis. I shall not consider the rhetorical uses and misuses of bullshit. My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not, or (putting it somewhat differently) to articulate, more or less sketchily, the structure of its concept. Any suggestion about what conditions are logically both necessary and sufficient for the constitution of bullshit is bound to be somewhat arbitrary. For one thing, the expression bullshit is often employed quite loosely — simply as a generic term of abuse, with no very specific literal meaning. For another, the phenomenon itself is so vast and amorphous that no crisp and perspicuous analysis of its concept can avoid being procrustean. Nonetheless it should be possible to say something helpful, even though it is not likely to be decisive. Even the most basic and preliminary questions about bullshit remain, after all, not only unanswered but unasked. So far as I am aware, very little work has been done on this subject. I have not undertaken a survey of the literature, partly because I do not know how to go about it. To be sure, there is one quite obvious place to look — the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED has an entry for bullshit in the supplementary volumes, and it also has entries for various pertinent uses of the word bull and for some related terms. I shall consider some of these entries in due course. I have not consulted dictionaries in languages other than English, because I do not know the words for bullshit or bull in any other language.

Another worthwhile source is the title essay in The Prevalence of Humbug by Max Black. I am uncertain just how close in meaning the word humbug is to the word bullshit. Of course, the words are not freely and fully interchangeable; it is clear that they are used differently. But the difference appears on the whole to have more to do with considerations of gentility, and certain other rhetorical parameters, than with the strictly literal modes of significance that concern me most. It is more polite, as well as less intense, to say “Humbug!” than to say “Bullshit!”

For the sake of this discussion, I shall assume that there is no other important difference between the two, Black suggests a number of synonyms for humbug, including; “balderdash”, “claptrap”, “hokum”, “drivel”, “buncombe”, “imposture”, and “quackery”. This list of quaint equivalents is not very helpful. But Black also confronts the problem of establishing the nature of humbug more directly, and he offers the following formal definition: Humbug: deceptive misrepresentation, short of lying, especially by pretentious word or deed, of somebody’s own thoughts, feelings, or attitudes.

A very similar formulation might plausibly be offered as enunciating the essential characteristics of bullshit. As a preliminary to developing an independent account of those characteristics, I will comment on the various elements of Black’s definition.

Deceptive misrepresentation: This may sound pleonastic. No doubt what Black has in mind is that humbug is necessarily designed or intended to deceive, that its misrepresentation is not merely inadvertent. In other words, it is deliberate misrepresentation. Now if, as a matter of conceptual necessity, an intention to deceive is an invariable feature of humbug, then the property of being humbug depends at least in part upon the perpetrator’s state of mind. It cannot be identical, accordingly, with any properties — either inherent or relational — belonging just to the utterance by which the humbug is perpetrated. In this respect, the property of being humbug is similar to that of being a lie, which is identical neither with the falsity nor with any of the other properties of the statement the liar makes, but which requires that the liar makes his statement in a certain state of mind — namely, with an intention to deceive. It is a further question whether there are any features essential to humbug or to lying that are not dependent upon the intentions and beliefs of the person responsible for the humbug or the lie, or whether it is, on the contrary, possible for any utterance whatsoever to be — given that the speaker is in a certain state of mind — a vehicle of humbug or of a lie. In some accounts of lying there is no lie unless a false statement is made; in others a person may be lying even if the statement he makes is true, as long as he himself believes that the statement is false and intends by making it to deceive. What about humbug and bullshit? May any utterance at all qualify as humbug or bullshit, given that (so to speak) the utterer’s heart is in the right place, or must the utterance have certain characteristics of its own as well?

Short of lying: It must be part of the point of saying that humbug is “short of lying,” that while it has some of the distinguishing characteristics of lies, there are others that it lacks. But this cannot be the whole point. After all, every use of language without exception has some, but not all, of the characteristic features of lies — if no other, then at least the feature simply of being a use of language. Yet it would surely be incorrect to describe every use of language as short of lying. Black’s phrase evokes the notion of some sort of continuum, on which lying occupies a certain segment while humbug is located exclusively at earlier points. What continuum could this be, along which one encounters humbug only before one encounters lying? Both lying and humbug are modes of misrepresentation. It is not at first glance apparent, however, just how the difference between these varieties of misrepresentation might be construed as a difference in degree.

Especially by pretentious word or deed: There are two points to notice here. First, Black identifies humbug not only as a category of speech but as a category of action as well; it may be accomplished either by words or by deeds. Second, his use of the qualifier “especially” indicates that Black does not regard pretentiousness as an essential or wholly indispensable characteristic of humbug. Undoubtedly, much humbug is pretentious. So far as concerns bullshit, moreover, “pretentious bullshit” is close to being a stock phrase. But I am inclined to think that when bullshit is pretentious, this happens because pretentiousness is its motive rather than a constitutive element of its essence. The fact that a person is behaving pretentiously is not, it seems to me, part of what is required to make his utterance an instance of bullshit. It is often, to be sure, what accounts for his making that utterance. However, it must not be assumed that bullshit always and necessarily has pretentiousness as its motive.

Misrepresentation … of somebody’s own thoughts, feelings, or attitudes: This provision that the perpetrator of humbug is essentially misrepresenting himself raises some very central issues. To begin with, whenever a person deliberately misrepresents anything, he must inevitably misrepresenting his own state of mind. It is possible, of course, for a person to misrepresent that alone — for instance, by pretending to have a desire or a feeling which he does not actually have. But suppose that a person, whether by telling a lie or in another way, misrepresents something else. Then he necessarily misrepresents at least two things. He misrepresents whatever he is talking about — i.e., the state of affairs that is the topic or referent of his discourse — and in doing this he cannot avoid misrepresenting his own mind as well. Thus, someone who lies about how much money he has in his pocket both gives an account of the amount of money in his pocket and conveys that he believes this account. If the lie works, then its victim is twice deceived, having one false belief about what is in the liar’s pocket and another false belief about what is in the liar’s mind.

Now it is unlikely that Black wishes that the referent of humbug is in every instance the state of the speaker’s mind. There is no particular reason, after all, why humbug may not be about other things. Black probably means that humbug is not designed primarily to give its audience a false belief about whatever state of affairs may be the topic, but that its primary intention is rather to give its audience a false impression concerning what is going on in the mind of the speaker. Insofar as it is humbug, the creation of this impression is its main purpose and its point. Understanding Black along these lines suggests a hypothesis to account for his characterization of humbug as “short of lying.” If I lie to you about how much money I have, then I do not thereby make an explicit assertion concerning my beliefs. Therefore, one might with some plausibility maintain that although in telling the lie I certainly misrepresent what is in my mind, this misrepresentation — as distinct from my misrepresentation of what is in my pocket — is not strictly speaking a lie at all. For I do not come right out with any statement whatever about what is in my mind. Nor does the statement I do affirm — e.g., “I have twenty dollars in my pocket” — imply any statement that attributes a belief to me. On the other hand, it is unquestionable that in so affirming, I provide you with a reasonable basis for making certain judgments about what I believe. In particular, I provide you with a reasonable basis for supposing that I believe there is twenty dollars in my pocket. Since this supposition is by hypothesis false, I do in telling the lie tend to deceive you concerning what is in my mind even though I do not actually tell a lie about that. In this light, it does not seem unnatural or inappropriate to regard me as misrepresenting my own beliefs in a way that is “short of lying.” It is easy to think of familiar situations by which Black’s account of humbug appears to be unproblematically confirmed. Consider a Fourth of July orator, who goes on bombastically about “our great and blessed country, whose Founding-Fathers under divine guidance created a new beginning for mankind.” This is surely humbug. As Black’s account suggests, the orator is not lying. He would be lying only if it were his intention to bring about in his audience beliefs which he himself regards as false, concerning such matters as whether our country is great, whether it is blessed, whether the Founders had divine guidance, and whether what they did was in fact to create a new beginning for mankind. But the orator does not really care what his audience thinks about the Founding Fathers, or about the role of the deity in our country’s history, or the like. At least, it is not an interest in what anyone thinks about these matters that motivates his speech. It is clear that what makes Fourth of July oration humbug is not fundamentally that the speaker regards his statements as false. Rather, just as Black’s account suggests, the orator intends these statements to convey a certain impression of himself. He is not trying to deceive anyone concerning American history. What he cares about is what people think of him. He wants them to think of him as a patriot, as someone who has deep thoughts and feelings about the origins and the mission of our country, who appreciates the importance of religion, who is sensitive to the greatness of our history, whose pride in that history is combined with humility before God, and so on. Black’s account of humbug appears, then, to fit certain paradigms quite snugly. Nonetheless, I do not believe that it adequately or accurately grasps the essential character of bullshit. It is correct to say of bullshit, as he says of humbug, both that it is short of lying and that chose who perpetrate it misrepresent themselves in a certain way. But Black’s account of these two features is significantly off the mark. I shall next attempt to develop, by considering some biographical material pertaining to Ludwig Wittgenstein, a preliminary but more accurately focused appreciation of just what the central characteristics of bullshit are. Wittgenstein once said that the following bit of verse by Longfellow could serve him as a motto:

In the elder days of art
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part,
For the Gods are everywhere.

The point of these lines is clear. In the old days, craftsmen did not cut corners. They worked carefully, and they took care with every aspect of their work. Every part of the product was considered, and each was designed and made to be exactly as it should be. These craftsmen did not relax their thoughtful self-discipline even with respect to features of their work which would ordinarily not be visible. Although no one would notice if those features were not quite right, the craftsmen would be bothered by their consciences. So nothing was swept under the rug. Or, one might perhaps also say, there was no bullshit.

It does seem fitting to construe carelessly made, shoddy goods as in some way analogues of bullshit. But in what way? Is the resemblance that bullshit itself is invariably produced in a careless or self-indulgent manner, that it is never finely crafted, that in the making of it there is never the meticulously attentive concern with detail to which Longfellow alludes? Is the bullshitter by his very nature a mindless slob? Is his product necessarily messy or unrefined? The word shit does, to be sure, suggest this. Excrement is not designed or crafted at all; it is merely emitted, or dumped. It may have a more or less coherent shape, or it may not, but it is in any case certainly not wrought.

The notion of carefully wrought bullshit involves, then, a certain inner strain. Thoughtful attention to detail requires discipline and objectivity. It entails accepting standards and limitations that forbid the indulgence of impulse or whim. It is this selflessness that, in connection with bullshit, strikes us as inapposite. But in fact it is not out of the question at all. The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept. And in these realms there are exquisitely sophisticated craftsmen who — with the help of advanced and demanding techniques of market research, of public opinion polling, of psychological testing, and so forth — dedicate themselves tirelessly to getting every word and image they produce exactly right.

Yet there is something more to be said about this. However studiously and conscientiously the bullshitter proceeds, it remains true that he is also trying to get away with something. There is surely in his work, as in the work of the slovenly craftsman, some kind of laxity which resists or eludes the demands of a disinterested and austere discipline. The pertinent mode of laxity cannot be equated, evidently, with simple carelessness or inattention to detail. I shall attempt in due course to locate it more correctly.

Wittgenstein devoted his philosophical energies largely to identifying and combating what he regarded as insidiously disruptive forms of “non-sense.” He was apparently like that in his personal life as well. This comes out in an anecdote related by Fania Pascal, who knew him in Cambridge in the 1930s:

I had my tonsils out and was in the Evelyn Nursing Home feeling sorry for myself. Wittgenstein called. I croaked: “I feel just like a dog that has been run over.” He was disgusted: “You don’t know what a dog that has been run over feels like.”

Now who knows what really happened? It seems extraordinary, almost unbelievable, that anyone could object seriously to what Pascal reports herself as having said. That characterization of her feelings — so innocently close to the utterly commonplace “sick as a dog” — is simply not provocative enough to arouse any response as lively or intense as disgust. If Pascal’s simile is offensive, then what figurative or allusive uses of language would not be? So perhaps it did not really happen quite as Pascal says. Perhaps Wittgenstein was trying to make a small joke, and it misfired. He was only pretending to bawl Pascal out, just for the fun of a little hyperbole; and she got the tone and the intention wrong. She thought he was disgusted by her remark, when in fact he was only trying to cheer her up with some playfully exaggerated mock criticism or joshing. In that case the incident is not incredible or bizarre after all.

But if Pascal failed to recognize that Wittgenstein was only teasing, then perhaps the possibility that he was serious was at least not so far out of the question. She knew him, and she knew what to expect from him; she knew how he made her feel. Her way of understanding or of misunderstanding his remark was very likely not altogether discordant, then, with her sense of what he was like. We may fairly suppose that even if her account of the incident is not strictly true to the facts of Wittgenstein’s intention, it is sufficiently true to her idea of Wittgenstein to have made sense to her. For the purposes of this discussion, I shall accept Pascal’s report at face value, supposing that when it came to the use of allusive or figurative language, Wittgenstein was indeed as preposterous as she makes him out to be.

Then just what is it that the Wittgenstein in her report considers to be objectionable? Let us assume that he is correct about the facts: that is, Pascal really does not know how run-over dogs feel. Even so, when she says what she does, she is plainly not lying. She would have been lying if, when she made her statement, she was aware that she actually felt quite good. For however little she knows about the lives of dogs, it must certainly be clear to Pascal that when dogs are run over they do not feel good. So if she herself had in fact been feeling good, it would have been a lie to assert that she felt like a run-over dog.

Pascal’s Wittgenstein does not intend to accuse her of lying, but of misrepresentation of another sort. She characterizes her feeling as “the feeling of a run-over dog.” She is not really acquainted, however, with the feeling to which this phrase refers. Of course, the phrase is far from being complete nonsense to her; she is hardly speaking gibberish. What she says has an intelligible connotation, which she certainly understands. Moreover, she does know something about the quality of the feeling to which the phrase refers: she knows at least that it is an undesirable and unenjoyable feeling, a bad feeling. The trouble with her statement is that it purports to convey something more than simply that she feels bad. Her characterization of her feeling is too specific; it is excessively particular. Hers is not just any bad feeling but, according to her account, the distinctive kind of bad feeling that a dog has when it is run over. To the Wittgenstein in Pascal’s story, judging from his response, this is just bullshit.

Now assuming that Wittgenstein does indeed regard Pascal’s characterization of how she feels as an instance of bullshit, why does it strike him that way? It does so, I believe, because he perceives what Pascal says as being — roughly speaking, for now — unconnected to a concern with the truth. Her statement is not germane to the enterprise of describing reality. She does not even think she knows, except in the vaguest way, how a run-over dog feels. Her description of her own feeling is, accordingly, something that she is merely making up. She concocts it out of whole cloth; or, if she got it from someone else, she is repeating it quite mindlessly and without any regard for how things really are.

It is for this mindlessness that Pascal’s Wittgenstein chides her. What disgusts him is that Pascal is not even concerned whether her statement is correct. There is every likelihood, of course, that she says what she does only in a somewhat clumsy effort to speak colorfully, or to appear vivacious or good-humored; and no doubt Wittgenstein’s reaction — as she construes it — is absurdly intolerant. Be this as it may, it seems clear what that reaction is. He reacts as though he perceives her to be speaking about her feeling thoughtlessly, without conscientious attention to the relevant facts. Her statement is not “wrought with greatest care.” She makes it without bothering to take into account at all the question of its accuracy.

The point that troubles Wittgenstein is manifestly not that Pascal has made a mistake in her description of how she feels. Nor is it even that she has made a careless mistake. Her laxity, or her lack of care, is not a matter of having permitted an error to slip into her speech on account of some inadvertent or momentarily negligent lapse in the attention she was devoting to getting things right. The point is rather that, so far as Wittgenstein can see, Pascal offers a description of a certain state of affairs without genuinely submitting to the constraints which the endeavor to provide an accurate representation of reality imposes. Her fault is not that she fails to get things right, but that she is not even trying.

This is important to Wittgenstein because, whether justifiably or not, he takes what she says seriously, as a statement purporting to give an informative description of the way she feels. He construes her as engaged in an activity to which the distinction between what is true and what is false is crucial, and yet as taking no interest in whether what she says is true or false. It is in this sense that Pascal’s statement is unconnected to a concern with truth: she is not concerned with the truth-value of what she says. That is why she cannot be regarded as lying; for she does not presume that she knows the truth, and therefore she cannot be deliberately promulgating a proposition that she presumes to be false: Her statement is grounded neither in a belief that it is true nor, as a lie must be, in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth — this indifference to how things really are — that I regard as of the essence of bullshit.

Now I shall consider (quite selectively) certain items in the Oxford English Dictionary that are pertinent to clarifying the nature of bullshit. The OED defines a bull session as “an informal conversation or discussion, esp. of a group of males.” Now as a definition, this seems wrong. For one thing, the dictionary evidently supposes that the use of the term bull in bull session serves primarily just to indicate gender. But even if it were true that the participants in bull sessions are generally or typically males, the assertion that a bull session is essentially nothing more particular than an informal discussion among males would be as far off the mark as the parallel assertion that a hen session is simply an informal conversation among females. It is probably true that the participants in hen sessions must be females. Nonetheless the term hen session conveys something more specific than this concerning the particular kind of informal conversation among females to which hen sessions are characteristically devoted. What is distinctive about the sort of informal discussion among males that constitutes a bull session is, it seems to me, something like this: while the discussion may be intense and significant, it is in a certain respect not “for real.”

The characteristic topics of a bull session have to do with very personal and emotion-laden aspects of life — for instance, religion, politics, or sex. People are generally reluctant to speak altogether openly about these topics if they expect that they might be taken too seriously. What tends to go on in a bull session is that the participants try out various thoughts and attitudes in order to see how it feels to hear themselves saying such things and in order to discover how others respond, without it being assumed that they are committed to what they say: It is understood by everyone in a bull session that the statements people make do not necessarily reveal what they really believe or how they really feel. The main point is to make possible a high level of candor and an experimental or adventuresome approach to the subjects under discussion. Therefore provision is made for enjoying a certain irresponsibility, so that people will be encouraged to convey what is on their minds without too much anxiety that they will be held to it.

Each of the contributors to a bull session relies, in other words, upon a general recognition that what he expresses or says is not to be understood as being what he means wholeheartedly or believes unequivocally to be true. The purpose of the conversation is not to communicate beliefs. Accordingly, the usual assumptions about the connection between what people say and what they believe are suspended. The statements made in a bull session differ from bullshit in that there is no pretense that this connection is being sustained. They are like bullshit by virtue of the fact that they are in some degree unconstrained by a concern with truth. This resemblance between bull sessions and bullshit is suggested also by the term shooting the bull, which refers to the sort of conversation that characterizes bull sessions and in which the term shooting is very likely a cleaned-up rendition of shitting. The very term bull session is, indeed, quite probably a sanitized version of bullshit session. A similar theme is discernible in a British usage of bull in which, according to the OED, the term refers to “unnecessary routine tasks or ceremonial; excessive discipline or ‘spit-and-polish’; = red-tape.” The dictionary provides the following examples of this usage:

“The Squadron … felt very bolshie about all that bull that was flying around the station” (I. Gleed, Arise to Conquer vi. 51, I942); “Them turning out the guard for us, us marching past eyes right, all that sort of bull” (A. Baron, Human Kind xxiv. 178, 1953); the drudgery and ‘bull’ in an MP’s life.” (Economist 8 Feb. 470/471, 1958)

Here the term bull evidently pertains to tasks that are pointless in that they have nothing much to do with the primary intent or justifying purpose of the enterprise which requires them. Spit-and-polish and red tape do not genuinely contribute, it is presumed, to the “real” purposes of military personnel or government officials, even though they are imposed by agencies or agents that purport to be conscientiously devoted to the pursuit of those purposes. Thus the “unnecessary routine tasks or ceremonial” that constitute bull are disconnected from the legitimating motives of the activity upon which they intrude, just as the things people say in bull sessions are disconnected from their settled beliefs, and as bullshit is disconnected from a concern with the truth.

The term bull is also employed, in a rather more widespread and familiar usage, as a somewhat less coarse equivalent of bullshit. In an entry for bull as so used, the OED suggests the following as definitive: “trivial, insincere, or untruthful talk or writing; nonsense.” Now it does not seem distinctive of bull either that it must be deficient in meaning or that it is necessarily unimportant; so “nonsense” and “trivial,” even apart from their vagueness, seem to be on the wrong track. The focus of “insincere, or untruthful” is better, but it needs to be sharpened. The entry at hand also provides the following two definitions:

1914 Dialect Notes IV. 162 Bull, talk which is not to the purpose; “hot air.”

I 932 Times Lit. Supp. 8 Dec. 933/3 “Bull” is the slang term for a combination of bluff, bravado, “hot air” and what we used to call in the Army “Kidding the troops”

“Not to the purpose” is appropriate, but it is both too broad in scope and too vague. It covers digressions and innocent irrelevancies, which are not invariably instances of bull; furthermore, saying that bull is not to the purpose leaves it uncertain what purpose is meant. The reference in both definitions to “hot air” is more helpful. When we characterize talk as hot air, we mean that what comes out of the speaker’s mouth is only that. It is mere vapor. His speech is empty, without substance or content. His use of language, accordingly, does not contribute to the purpose it purports to serve. No more information is communicated than if the speaker had merely exhaled. There are similarities between hot air and excrement, incidentally, which make hot air seem an especially suitable equivalent for bullshit. Just as hot air is speech that has been emptied of all informative content, so excrement is matter from which everything nutritive has been removed. Excrement may be regarded as the corpse of nourishment, what remains when the vital elements in food have been exhausted. In this respect, excrement is a representation of death which we ourselves produce and which, indeed, we cannot help producing in the very process of maintaining our lives. Perhaps it is for making death so intimate that we find excrement so repulsive. In any event, it cannot serve the purposes of sustenance, any more than hot air can serve those of cummunication.

Now consider these lines from Pound’s Canto LXXIV, which the OED cites in its entry on bullshit as a verb:

Hey Snag wots in the bibl’?
Wot are the books ov the bible?
Name ’em, don’t bullshit ME.

This is a call for the facts. The person addressed is evidently regarded as having in some way claimed to know the Bible, or as having claimed to care about it. The speaker suspects that this is just empty talk, and demands that the claim be supported with facts. He will not accept a mere report; he insists upon seeing the thing itself. In other words, he is calling the bluff. The connection between bullshit and bluff is affirmed explicitly in the definition with which the lines by Pound are associated:

As v. truns. and intr., to talk nonsense (to); … also, to bluff one’s way through (something) by talking nonsense.

It does seem that bullshitting involves a kind of bluff. It is closer to bluffing, surely than to telling a lie. But what is implied concerning its nature by the fact that it is more like the former than it is like the latter? Just what is the relevant difference here between a bluff and a lie? Lying and bluffing are both modes of misrepresentation or deception. Now the concept most central to the distinctive nature of a lie is that of falsity: the liar is essentially someone who deliberately promulgates a falsehood. Bluffing too is typically devoted to conveying something false. Unlike plain lying, however, it is more especially a matter not of falsity but of fakery. This is what accounts for its nearness to bullshit. For the essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it isphony. In order to appreciate this distinction, one must recognize that a fake or a phony need not be in any respect (apart from authenticity itself) inferior to the real thing. What is not genuine need not also be defective in some other way. It may be, after all, an exact copy. What is wrong with a counterfeit is not what it is like, but how it was made. This points to a similar and fundamental aspect of the essential nature of bullshit: although it is produced without concern with the truth, it need not be false. The bullshitter is faking things. But this does not mean that he necessarily gets them wrong.

In Eric Ambler’s novel Dirty Story, a character named Arthur Abdel Simpson recalls advice that he received as a child from his father:

Although I was only seven when my father was killed, I still remember him very well and some of the things he used to say. … One of the first things he taught me was, “Never tell a lie when you can bullshit your way through.”

This presumes not only that there is an important difference between lying and bullshitting, but that the latter is preferable to the former. Now the elder Simpson surely did not consider bullshitting morally superior to lying. Nor is it likely that he regarded lies as invariably less effective than bullshit in accomplishing the purposes for which either of them might be employed. After all, an intelligently crafted lie may do its work with unqualified success. It may be that Simpson thought it easier to get away with bullshitting than with lying. Or perhaps he meant that, although the risk of being caught is about the same in each case, the consequences of being caught are generally less severe for the bullshitter than for the liar. In fact, people do tend to be more tolerant of bullshit than of lies, perhaps because we are less inclined to take the former as a personal affront. We may seek to distance ourselves from bullshit, but we are more likely to turn away from it with an impatient or irritated shrug than with the sense of violation or outrage that lies often inspire. The problem of understanding why our attitude toward bullshit is generally more benign than our attitude toward lying is an important one, which I shall leave as an exercise for the reader. The pertinent comparison is not, however, between telling a lie and producing some particular instance of bullshit. The elder Simpson identifies the alternative to telling a lie as “bullshitting one’s way through.” This involves not merely producing one instance of bullshit; it involves a program of producing bullshit to whatever extent the circumstances require. This is a key, perhaps, to his preference. Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point in a set or system of beliefs, in order to avoid the consequences of having that point occupied by the truth. This requires a degree of craftsmanship, in which the teller of the lie submits to objective constraints imposed by what he takes to be the truth. The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. On the other hand, a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared to fake the context as well, so far as need requires. This freedom from the constraints to which the liar must submit does not necessarily mean, of course, that his task is easier than the task of the liar. But the mode of creativity upon which it relies is less analytical and less deliberative than that which is mobilized in lying. It is more expansive and independent, with mare spacious opportunities for improvisation, color, and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the “bullshit artist.” My guess is that the recommendation offered by Arthur Simpson’s father reflects the fact that he was more strongly drawn to this mode of creativity, regardless of its relative merit or effectiveness, than he was to the more austere and rigorous demands of lying.

What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to.

This is the crux of the distinction between him and the liar. Both he and the liar represent themselves falsely as endeavoring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality; we are not to know that he wants us to believe something he supposes to be false. The fact about himself that the bullshitter hides, on the other hand, is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor co conceal it. This does not mean that his speech is anarchically impulsive, but that the motive guiding and controlling it is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.

It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.

In his essay, “Lying,” St. Augustine distinguishes lies of eight types, which he classifies according to the characteristic intent or justification with which a lie is told. Lies of seven of these types are told only because they are supposed to be indispensable means to some end that is distinct from the sheer creation of false beliefs. It is not their falsity as such, in other words, that attracts the teller to them. Since they are told only on account of their supposed indispensability to a goal other than deception itself, St. Augustine regards them as being told unwillingly: what the person really wants is not to tell the lie but to attain the goal. They are therefore not real lies, in his view, and those who tell them are not in the strictest sense liars. It is only the remaining category that contains what he identifies as “the lie which is told solely for the pleasure of lying and deceiving, that is, the real lie.” Lies in this category are not told as means to any end distinct form the propagation of falsehood. They are told simply for their own sakes — i.e., purely out of a love of deception:

There is a distinction between a person who tells a lie and a liar. The former is one who tells a lie unwillingly, while the liar loves to lie and passes his time in the joy of lying. … The latter takes delight in lying, rejoicing in the falsehood itself.

What Augustine calls “liars” and “real lies” are both rare and extraordinary. Everyone lies from time to time, but there are very few people to whom it would often (or even ever) occur to lie exclusively from a love of falsity or of deception. For most people, the fact that a statement is false constitutes in itself a reason, however weak and easily overridden, not to make the statement.

For St. Augustine’s pure liar it is, on the contrary, a reason in favor of making it. For the bullshitter it is in itself neither a reason in favor nor a reason against. Both in lying and in telling the truth people are guided by their beliefs concerning the way things are. These guide them as they endeavor either to describe the world correctly or to describe it deceitfully. For this reason, telling lies does not tend to unfit a person for telling the truth in the same way that bullshitting tends to. Through excessive indulgence in the latter activity, which involves making assertions without paying attention to anything except what it suits one to say, a person’s normal habit of attending to the ways things are may become attenuated or lost. Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

One who is concerned to report or to conceal the facts assumes that there are indeed facts that are in some way both determinate and knowable. His interest in telling the truth or in lying presupposes that there is a difference between getting things wrong and getting them right, and that it is at least occasionally possible to tell the difference. Someone who ceases to believe in the possibility of identifying certain statements as true and others as false can have only two alternatives. The first is to desist both from efforts to tell the truth and from efforts to deceive. This would mean refraining from making any assertion whatever about the facts. The second alternative is to continue making assertions that purport to describe the way things are but that cannot be anything except bullshit.

Why is there so much bullshit? Of course it is impossible to be sure that there is relatively more of it nowadays than at other times. There is more communication of all kinds in our time than ever before, but the proportion that is bullshit may not have increased. Without assuming that the incidence of bullshit is actually greater now, I will mention a few considerations that help to account for the fact that it is currently so great.

Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are more excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled — whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others — to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. Closely related instances arise from the widespread conviction that it is the responsibility of a citizen in a democracy to have opinions about everything, or at least everything that pertains to the conduct of his country’s affairs. The lack of any significant connection between a person’s opinions and his apprehension of reality will be even more severe, needless to say, for someone who believes it his responsibility, as a conscientious moral agent, to evaluate events and conditions in all parts of the world.

The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These “anti-realist” doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even in the intelligibility of the notion of objective inquiry. One response to this loss of confidence has been a retreat from the discipline required by dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity. Rather than seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself. Convinced that reality has no inherent nature, which he might hope to identify as the truth about things, he devotes himself to being true to his own nature. It is as though he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself.

But it is preposterous to imagine that we ourselves are determinate, and hence susceptible both to correct and to incorrect descriptions, while supposing that the ascription of determinacy to anything else has been exposed as a mistake. As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them. Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgment that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know. Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial — notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit.

(With thanks to Harry Frankfurt! -Ed.)

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://allans-perspective.blogspot.com


Saturday Morning Confusion # 5

Boy have we got an "all in one" sale for you today!

The Military Leaders of Burma (Never mind that "also known as Myanmar" bullshit!) win our "Loser of the Day" and the "Assholes of the Week" awards for the way they are handling the crisis in that country.

Here are hundreds of thousands of people starving and dying after a cyclone slammed into the country and the Military Leadership won't allow aid workers into the country.

Then, they take all the boxes of relief supplies and plaster their own names all over them as if they were the ones doing all the work and providing all the humanitarian aid!

The herd needs to be thinned boys and girls, and we should start with the guys running Burma!!!


There is no award or trophy of any kind we can give this guy since I can't think of anything appropriate.

If something should cross your mind then please let me know!

Austrian incest father Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and made her bear seven children, said he locked her up to protect her from outside vices, in comments published Thursday.

"My situation became crazier with every week that I held my daughter captive. I considered again and again whether I should let her go or not," he told his lawyer.

"I was happy about the kids. It was nice for me to also have a real family in the cellar, with a wife and a couple of children."

"I watched action films with them (the children) on the VCR while Elisabeth cooked our favourite dishes. Then we all sat down at the kitchen table and ate together."

"The cellar in my building belonged to me and me alone. It was my kingdom, that only I had access to. Everyone who lived there knew it," he said.

"Nobody would have dared to enter my kingdom or ask me what I was doing.
The daughter,Elisabeth, sought to create a normal life for the kids, teaching them to read and write thanks with books her father would bring her, according to the Local News.

Fritzl said they celebrated Christmas and birthdays underground when he would sneak in Christmas trees, cakes and presents into the dungeon.

Letters written by the 18-year-old woman in 1984 and published Thursday by the daily Oesterreich showed she had hoped to move away from her parents shortly before she was locked up.

"After the exams... I'm moving in with my sister and her boyfriend, Elisabeth, now 42, wrote to a male friend on May 9, 1984, a few months before she vanished. "
In another letter, dated May 29, 1984, she wrote to the same friend:

"When you get this letter, it will all be over. I'll give you my new address as soon as I've moved."
She never made it!


Multi-culturealism and political correctness have raised their ugly heads once again!

British Airways takes beef off the menu to avoid offending Hindus! WHERE'S THE BEEF!

For decades the national dish has been a staple meal on the national carrier, But now British Airways has taken beef off the menu for economy passengers amid concerns about its “religious restrictions”.

The airline has instead switched to a fish pie or chicken dish option for the so-called “cattle class” passengers.

BA’s second-biggest long-haul market is to India, where the majority Hindu population do not eat beef because of their beliefs.

A spokesman said: “It is regrettable that Britain’s flag carrier is not proposing to serve Britain’s national dish.

“It is a meal we are rightly proud of. Roast beef and beefeaters are symbols or Britain used to promote tourism.

“Our beef is also much in demand overseas. It is predominately grass fed and highly praised for its flavour.

“It is obviously up to British Airways to decide what they serve on flights, but beef is an ideal meat for making into airline meals.” A BA spokesman said the it stopped serving beef to economy class passengers last month.

He added: “We can only serve two options and beef and pork obviously have religious restrictions.

“We have to try to use two meals which appeal to as many customers as possible. This summer season we are offering customers in World Traveller on most longhaul flights a choice of chicken and tarragon or fish pie.

“We also look at trends from major supermarkets to see what types of meals are popular and fish pie style meals are selling well at the moment.

“These two meals proved popular in tasting tests and are also proving popular on board.

“It has nothing to do with the fear of causing offence - we always offer alternative meals for people with special dietary requirements if they order in advance.

“We are still serving beef based meals on certain menus in First Class and Club World and are currently deciding on whether or not to use beef on the menus for World Traveller customers for the winter season.”

The Hindu Council UK said: “The Hindu community will welcome this decision and the news it has been made partly because Hindus don’t eat beef.

“Hindus have a great deal of respect for British culture and are well integrated into the British way of life, so it’s good to see evidence of how they are literally flying the British flag by choosing British Airways.

“That said, Hindus are tolerant of the beliefs of others and do not expect everyone to stop eating a food because they do not eat it.”
In the past three months world beef prices have risen from about £2,500 a tonne to more than £4,000 a tonne, largely because of the weakening dollar and rising feed costs but BA said that cost is not the reason for the decision to stop serving beef.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of equality, British Airways stopped a Jewish worker from observing the Sabbath by making him work on Saturdays and a Christian BA employee wants to take legal action over his suspension for wearing a cross.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Friday, May 09, 2008

“Penn & Teller Creationism Bullshit”

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Great Tits cope well with Global Warming!

Know anyone with Great Tits? This article is for them. (FYI)

Guest Post By Richard Black; Environment Correspondent, BBC News

At least one of Britain's birds appears to be coping well as climate change alters the availability of a key food. Researchers found that "Great Tits" are laying eggs earlier in the spring than they used to, keeping step with the earlier emergence of caterpillars.

Writing in the journal Science, they point out that the same "Tits" in the Netherlands have not managed to adjust. (Understanding why "Tits" in some places are affected more than others by climatic shifts is vital, they say.)

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) commented that other "Tits" are likely to fare much worse than the "Great Tits" as temperatures rise.

The research uses a long record of "Great Tits" in a breeding site at Wytham Woods near Oxford, where observations began in 1947. The finding is surprising in that the "Tits" are using the same old rules, but the rules still work

"We think it’s the longest running population study of wild animals anywhere in the world where animals are marked (ringed)," said Ben Sheldon of Oxford University, who led the new research. "The population contains about 400 breeding pairs, and between them they produce 2,000 or more offspring each year - so over the course of the study about 80,000 pair of "Tits" have been ringed and studied," he told BBC News.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://allans-perspective.blogspot.com

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A Japanese Garden at Night!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com



Another in the riveting series about how and why things work the way they do!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Children's story on homosexuality repeats as most 'challenged!'

It seems that the older I get the more conservative and set in my ways I get.

Over the years I have seen enough bullshit and just plain idiocy that I have less and less patience with fringe groups, special interest groups and all sorts of other wacko's that are promoting a minority viewpoint on whatever turns their crank!

With that in mind let me repeat an article here by the Associated Press that not only makes a good point but is looking more and more sensible as time goes on!

NEW YORK -- A children's story about a family of penguins with two fathers once again tops the list of library books the American public objects to the most.

And Tango Makes Three, released in 2005 and co-written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was the most "challenged" book in U.S. public schools and libraries for the second straight year, according to the American Library Association.

"The complaints are that young children will believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle that is not only acceptable, but normal. The people complaining, of course, don't agree with that," Judith Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom, told AP yesterday.

The ALA defines a "challenge" as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."

Other books on the ALA's top 10 list include Maya Angelou's memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in which the author writes of being raped as a young girl; Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, long attacked for alleged racism; and Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, an anti-religious work in which a former nun says: "The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake."

Pullman's novel, released in 1996, received new attention last year because of the film version starring Nicole Kidman.
The one I object to most is the agenda of the homosexual community promoting their lifestyle as not only acceptable, but even preferable.

The gay block has long fostered the lie that 10% of the community is homosexual to make themselves appear more mainstream, while in actual fact the figure is about 2%!

Couple this with the fact that the liberal North American Media actively promotes gay lifestyles and values and we have a serious erosion of morals in society.

Don't get me wrong, I have mostly liberal, left of center leanings on most issues, but there are certain times when the backlash against these special interest groups takes over and I feel compelled to say something.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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A Kentucky Family Reunion!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Another in the riveting series about how and why things work the way they do!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Interesting, if it's true! Cinnamon & Honey CURE ALL

It sounds like this honey and cinnamon does everything except vacuum
your floors!! I am going to have to try some of these.....

Cinnamon & Honey.

Bet the drug companies won't like this one getting around.

Facts on honey and cinnamon: The Perspective research department has found that a
mixture of honey and cinnamon cures most diseases.

Scientists of today also accept honey as a "Ram Ban" (very effective) medicine for all kinds of diseases and honey can be used without any side effects for any kind of diseases.

Today's science says that even though honey is sweet, if taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm diabetic patients.

Weekly World News, a magazine in Canada , in its issue dated 17 January, 1995 has given the following list of diseases that can be cured by honey and cinnamon as researched by western scientists:


Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread, instead of jelly and jam, and eat it regularly for breakfast.

It reduces the cholesterol in the arteries and saves the patient from heart attack.

Also those who have already had an attack, if they do this process daily, they are kept miles away from the next attack.

Regular use of the above process relieves loss of breath and strengthens the heart beat.

In America and Canada, various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that as you age, the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the arteries and veins.


Arthritis patients may take daily, morning, and night, one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. If taken regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured.

In a recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week, out of the 200 people so treated, practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain, and within a month, mostly all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis started walking wit hout pain.


Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder.


Make a paste of one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and five teaspoons of honey and apply on the aching tooth. This may be applied three times a day until the tooth stops aching.


Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ou nces of tea water, given to a cholesterol patient, was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours.

As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterol is cured. According to information received in the said journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.


Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure mos t chronic cough, cold, and clear the sinuses.


Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears stomach ulcers from the root.


According to the studies done in India and Japan , it is revealed that if honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.


Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks.

Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts.

Constant use of honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacteria and viral diseases.


Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.


A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural Ingredient which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.


Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age. Take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon powder and three cups of water and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day.

It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age.


Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste. Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it next morning with warm water.

If done daily for two weeks, it removes pimples from the root.


Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.


Daily in the morning one half hour before breakfast on an empty stomach and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water.

If taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person.

Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet.


Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully.

Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder for one month three times a day.


Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful rather than! than being detrimental to the strength of the body.

Senior citizens, who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts, are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a half tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, increases the vitality of the body within a week.


People of South America , first thing in the morning, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water, so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.


Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Another in the riveting series about how and why things work the way they do!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Muslim Man Killed for Missing Prayers

Jihadis Follow in the Footsteps of Muhammad

Guest Post by B Kisan

Pakistan's Daily Times reports that the members of Lashkar-e-Islam (literally 'Army of Islam') shot dead a man, standing near a Mosque at the time of prayer, who refused to come inside for praying when ordered to do so by the mujahideen.

The newspaper reports:

Activists of the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) killed a man in Sarband Police Station jurisdiction on Saturday, police said. Sources within the police told Daily Times that Mukarram, son of Asadullah, was chastised by LI men for not offering Asr prayers and standing outside a mosque. When Mukarram told the men that it was his personal matter, the LI men shot him dead.

This may sound barbaric and cruel, but for a committed Jihadi, it is a matter of principle and pride, and following the commands of Islam. Using violence for enforcing prayers upon the faithful is a pious commandment in Islam, which was recommended by the favorite and final prophet of Allah.

First, children are to be beaten if they refuse to pray after they reach the age of 10:

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately.

Then Allah's final Prophet offers the following advice here:

The Prophet said, "No prayer is harder for the hypocrites than the Fajr and the 'Isha' prayers and if they knew the reward for these prayers at their respective times, they would certainly present themselves (in the mosques) even if they had to crawl." The Prophet added, "Certainly I decided to order the Mu'adh-dhin (call-maker) to pronounce Iqama and order a man to lead the prayer and then take a fire flame to burn all those who had not left their houses so far for the prayer along with their houses."

So, by the standards that the Prophet preached the above Jihadi must be considered to be practicing somewhat of a 'moderate' Islam, because he only murdered the man refusing to pray, but did not burn his house down too. Probably if the relatives lodge a police complaint they could expect the balance of the prophetic prescription.
Howsoever cruel and horrific the murder in question may appear by civilized standards, the Jihadis are indoctrinated to believe it to be an act of righteousness. They believe their deeds to be good (by the standards Islam sets), which reminds us of the atheist philosopher Steven Weinberg's famous quote:

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
Muhammad exhorted his followers to attack non-believers and to subdue them for making his dogma supreme. The Qur'an presents this hateful incitement of violence against non-believers as good and as the ultimate message of God to the Muslims to follow:

[Following is quoted from the The Noble Quran, distributed for free by the Saudi Embassy's around the world, published by the King Fahd Complex For The Printing Of The Holy Qur'an - the author got his copy free from the Saudi Embassy in Singapore]

Oh you who believe (in Allah's Oneness and in His Messenger Muhammad saw)! Verily, the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolators, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and in the message of Muhammad saw) are Najasun (impure)[1]. So let them not come near Al-Masjidal-Haram (at Makkah) after this year; and if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you if He wills, out of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
[1] The footnote states that their impurity is both spiritual and physical, because they lack personal hygiene (filthy as regards urine, stools and blood).

My notes:

a) Even now the Islamic policy of not allowing impure kafirs to visit Makkah and Madina is to this very day enforced by the Saudi Govt.

b) Enriching out of Allah's Bounty refers to the new income to be had by Muhammad and his followers from attacking, enslaving, robbing non-Believers, i.e. the spoils to be had from Jihad.

Qur'an 9:29
Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the last day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah[2] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

[2] Footnote reads:

a) see footnote of 2:193 which reads: Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 24:

Narrated Ibn 'Umar:

Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that La ilaha illallah wa Anna Muhammmad-ur-Rasul Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle), and perform As-salat (Iqamat-as-salat) and give Zakat, so if they perform all that, then they save their lives, and properties from me except for Islamic laws, and then their reckoning (accounts) will be with (done by Allah."

b) Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah's Messenger said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him'" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 4, Hadith No 177)

c) Jizyah: a tax levied from the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians), who are under the protection of a Muslim government.
A few pages later in the very same King Fahd published Qur'an (p253) the Hadith above about burning people to death for not attending prayers is approvingly quoted. I hope readers can make the clear connection between these hateful teachings and the actions of the Jihadis.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Allah is Our God....... not yours!

It seems Muslims are digging themselves deeper into the hole that seperates them from all other religions and faiths.

We constantly refer to a Supreme Being as "GOD" or "FATHER" or "JEHOVAH" or "ALMIGHTY" or "LORD" or "THE CREATOR" or "ELOHIM" or "YAHWEH" but we can't call God "Allah" anymore! No sir!

We get this note from Malaysia:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A Roman Catholic newspaper cleared its first legal hurdle Monday in its fight against a Malaysian government ban on Christians using the word “Allah” as a synonym for “God.”

The Herald is seeking to reverse a government order that prohibits the paper from using the word “Allah” in its Malay-language section.

The government says the word refers only to the Muslim God and its use by Christians might confuse Muslims.

It has threatened to revoke the paper’s publishing license if it defies the order.

The Herald also wants a court declaration that “Allah” is not for exclusive use by Muslims.

“The court agreed that the church’s application is not frivolous nor vexatious nor an abuse of process. It deserves to be heard,” said Derek Fernandez, a lawyer for the newspaper.

The court will set a trial date later, Fernandez told reporters.
The Herald — which publishes in the English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil languages — insists that “Allah” is an Arabic word that predates Islam and has been used for centuries to mean “God” in Malay.

The case is an example of Malaysian religious minorities’ increasing complaints that their rights have been undermined by government efforts to bolster the status of Islam, Malaysia’s official religion.

(Ethnic Malays, virtually all of them Muslims, make up nearly 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people. The main minorities are ethnic Chinese and Indians, and most of them are Buddhists, Christians and Hindus.)

Dissatisfaction with court rulings over Muslims’ legal right to leave Islam — along with other religious issues like state authorities’ demolition of Hindu temples, contributed to the ruling government coalition’s poor performance in March elections — when it lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In a separate case in Malaysia, the Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo has also filed a lawsuit in an effort to be allowed to use “Allah” after officials last year banned the import of books containing the word.

Hearings in that case were still in the preliminary stages but I gues that it all boils down to the fact that Islam is trying to seperate itself from other mainstream religions and thereby drive a wedge between them.

To announce that your God cannot be refered to by none muslims suggests that Islam is either superior or that other religions are inferior and not worthy of consideration.

A very dangerous mind-set no matter how you look at it!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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What a difference a day makes. (Or a hundred years!)

A stunning senior moment

Apparently, a self-important college freshman attending a recent football game took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation. 'You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one,' the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear.

'The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon. Our space probes have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, ships and electric and hydrogen cars, cell phones. Computers with light-speed processing...and more.'

After a brief silence the senior citizen responded as follows:

'You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young........ so we invented them. Now, you arrogant little shit, what are you doing for the next generation?'

Yes bunky, it's amazing how things are changing in the blink of an eye.

Show this to your children and grandchildren


This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine!

The year is 1908. One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes!

Here are some statistics for the Year 1908 :
************ ********* ********* ******

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles
Of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.

The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .

Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard. '

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering the country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas , Nevada, was only 30!!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all North Americans graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, 'Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.' (Shocking?)

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!

Now I forwarded this from someone else without typing it myself, and sent it to you and others all over Canada & U.S.A, possibly the world, in a matter of seconds!

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.


Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com



Another in the riveting series about how and why things work the way they do!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com

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Monday, May 05, 2008

20 Science Books Everyone Should Read!

One day not so long ago when my kids were young teenagers I said to them; "Learn as much as you can about everything you can, because the more you know, the better you will be able to function in this modern, complicated society!"

This actually holds true for all of us, with a reminder that the learning process never stops kids.

Last week we had a list of the twenty cult books that should be required reading for anyone and everyone, and this week we have a list of 20 Science books everyone should read.

Remember, you can't have great science without great books about science.

Ever since the nineteenth century, when Charles Darwin's classics On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man took the reading public by storm, popular science writing has been inspiring fictional as well as possibly less-inspiring political debates.

What are the science books you should be reading now if you want your brain turned inside-out by weird new ideas that might just change the world for real? We've got 20 brilliant, and brilliantly-written, science books that have already influenced us — or are about to.

Some of these books are well-known, and you will no doubt have heard of them. Others made it onto the list for exploring scientific discoveries that are less well-known but are nevertheless inspiring and mind-blowing.

I've listed them in chronological order, not in order of importance.

1. On the Origin of Species (1859), by Charles Darwin. This is the book where Darwin first explained to the general public the theory of natural selection, in which species compete with each other for survival in specific environments. It remains an incredibly influential scientific treatise to this day.

2. Male and Female (1949), by Margaret Mead. Mead was a celebrated anthropologist whose book Coming of Age in Samoa, based on years of research into tribal society, took the world by storm. While many of the observations she made in that book have been questioned in years since, her book Male and Female has endured the test of time. In it, she turned her anthropologist's eye to mating rituals and family networks in the United States, revealing to readers how strange their practices actually were. In particular, she made a gentle but persistent argument that perhaps we ought to question our gender roles and be less rigid about sexual relationships. Funny and well-written, the book was one of the first to use the tools of anthropology on the anthropologist's own society.

3.Animal Liberation (1975), by Peter Singer. Singer is one of the most famous science ethicists in the world, and he made his first mark with this book. In it, he took the first of many radical positions about humans' place on Earth, and whether we are truly worth more than animals. He argued that an ethical society must treat animals compassionately, since they have the ability to suffer.

4. Godel, Escher, Bach (1979), by Douglas Hofstadter. A book about math, meaning, complex symbols, and music, this tour-de-force is a beautifully-written classic of the science writing genre. Its intertwined tales of three influential thinkers - logician Godel, artist Escher, and composer Bach - is reminiscent of the scifi novels of Neal Stephenson.

5. Cosmos (1985), by Carl Sagan. The classic introduction to astrophysics, by one of the most accessible writers on the topic. Sagan was an astrophysicist himself, who worked tirelessly to secure funding for space exploration and inspire humans to search for their counterparts elsewhere in the universe.

6. The Selfish Gene (1990), by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is now primarily known as an atheist advocate, but his first big public splash came with this book, which argued that the basis for reproduction was the selfish urge to pass one's genes on. His analysis also included the urge to spread memes, or units of meaning, making the book a rather all-encompassing indictment of humans as selfish from the tiniest biological level to the broadest social one.

7. The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (1995), by Laurie Garrett. This controversial look at the spread of diseases and pandemics in a world riddled with poverty and health care deficits is both fascinating and required reading for anybody interested in zombies or plague.

8. Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by its Most Brilliant Teacher (1995), by Richard P. Feynman. The "easiest" (i.e., most accessible to people without degrees in the physical sciences) lectures from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. These are six lectures excerpted from his famous book Lectures on Physics, originally published in 1963. Learn about everything from atoms to quantum force.

9. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1999), by Jared Diamond. As influential as Dawkins' Selfish Gene, Diamond's book of evolutionary anthropology looks at why some civilizations succeeded in conquering vast parts of the globe while others died out or where conquered. Compassionate and interesting, Diamond's writing is persuasive and will change the way you look at civilization forever.

10. The Elegant Universe (2000), by Brian Greene. All the freakiest new physics shit, explained clearly and with good humor, in one simple book.

11. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography (2000), by Simon Singh.A fascinating story of how different civilizations through time used math, science, and later computers to communicate across great distances, even through enemy territory, without letting their secrets out. Packed with cool information about code-cracking, ciphers, and even quantum cryptography, this is a must-read for anybody who wants to write about futuristic spies.

12. The Well: A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community (2001), by Katie Hafner. There are dozens of good histories of the early Internet out there, but none captures the human stories behind it as well as New York Times reporter Hafner's account of one of the first online community, The Well. In many ways, The Well was doing what Facebook and MySpace later did, only in the 1980s. Technically interesting and full of gripping human drama, Hafner's book is a forgotten classic.

13. The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People (2002), by David Barash and Judith Lipton. Written by a psychologist and a zoologist, this is one of the most revolutionary science books to deal with mating behaviors. The authors lay out a careful, evidence-packed argument that monogamy is incredibly rare in the animal kingdom and that the human desire to cling to it as a norm may not have any basis in biological realities. Plus there are a ton of great stories about birds cheating on each other.

14. A User's Guide to the Brain (2002), by John Ratey. Harvard neuroscientist Ratey uses lots of intriguing examples from everyday life to explain the complicated neurological mechanisms that allow you to do things like pay attention and access memories.

15. How the Universe Got Its Spots (2002), by Janna Levin. Levin is a physicist who studies the origins of the universe, and is also a writer whose language is both clear and poetic. Something about cosmology invites poetic meditations, and Levin manages to combine somewhat melancholy explorations of her own place in the universe with complicated physics formulas to create one of the most interesting books you'll ever read.

16. Why Things Break (2003), by Mark Eberhart. This isn't about how things break, but WHY things break. What is it about certain physical materials that causes them to crack, crumble, or collapse? Written by materials scientist Eberhart in an accessible, geekish-love-of-chemistry tone, this is perhaps the best introduction you'll ever get to the science that can answer the question of why bridges collapse and gaskets blow.

17. Evolution's Rainbow: Why Darwin Was Wrong About Sexual Selection (2004), by Joan Roughgarden. Written as a sharp, highly-articulate rejoinder to people like Dawkins who believe that creatures reproduce for selfish reasons, Stanford evolutionary biologist Roughgarden proves that animals and people often collaborate in the process of reproduction for altruistic reasons. In the process, she answers the question of why so many animals regularly evolve homosexuality, a non-reproductive form of mating. She argues persuasively that non-reproducing animals are necessary to evolution.

18. How to Survive a Robot Uprising (2005), by Daniel H. Wilson. Funny and bizarre, Wilson's book is a perfect blend of science writing and science fiction speculation — it's as if he's written a robotics guide for science fiction fans who want to know what could really, plausibly happen if robots were to revolt. Plus, there are a lot of tips for avoiding being killed by robots, which is always helpful.

19. Illegal Beings: Human Clones and the Law (2005), by Kerry MacIntosh. MacIntosh is a law professor who has become profoundly interested in how current human rights law will affect human clones when they are born. She's done meticulous research on the topic, and demonstrated that in fact human clones will have no legal rights because they are "illegal beings." Given that so many researchers outside the U.S. are openly developing human reproductive cloning, this legal issue is likely to become serious over the next couple of decades. MacIntosh is the only person to have written about this from a purely legal point of view, and her findings are riveting.


20. The Science of Orgasm (2006), by Barry Komisauruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, and Beverly Whipple. One of the most coveted and talked-about forms of human pleasure, the orgasm has nevertheless suffered from a paucity of scientific study. At last, Rutgers researchers have tackled this elusive experience and written a terrific book about what actually happens to you — neurologically and chemically — when you have an orgasm. And there are even suggestions for how "orgasm chemicals" might be used in future painkillers. Nobody interested in the science of human experience should miss this book.

(With thanks to io9)


Readers comments...............

I loved The Selfish Gene. Quite an interesting book.

I'm surprised you didn't put A Brief History of Time on this list.

Joseph H.,

Joe, so many books, so little time, but then, that's what the comments section down below is for, right?

There is also another book that I used extensively in my research for the book "The Plain Truth About God" (What the church doesn't want you to know!) and that is "The Emergence of Man" by John E. Pfeiffer.

And to help you sleep at night, (NOT) another good book to read would be "Arsenal: Understanding Weapons in the Nuclear Age!" by Kosta Tsipis. (This book is very dry, very dispassionate and very scary!)

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://Allans-Perspective.blogspot.com