Thursday, December 10, 2009

Naming the current decade

A recent editorial was entitled
A nameless decade, The Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 7, 2009, A10.

Surely it is obvious that the present decade should be remembered as the decade of truthiness and bullshit. First there was Stephen Colbert who successfully coined the word truthiness to describe the bullshit that was successfully used to justify invasive wars . Truthiness means ‘truth’ that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination or facts. Then, also in 2005, came Princeton University emeritus philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt’s book simply entitled “On Bullshit”, which only 3 years later had been translated into more than a dozen languages. By one year later the following scholarly books and papers joined the intellectual outpouring on the subject: Gary L. Hardcastle and George A. Reisch, 2006, Bullshit and Philosophy – guaranteed to get perfect results every time, Open Court, Chicago; then Canadian writer Laura Penny gave us, Your Call is Important to Us: The Truth about Bullshit to be followed by the piece de resistance – Brandenburg, Heinz, Short of Lying – The prevalence of bullshit in political communication, presented at the Annual Conference of the Political Studies Association, Reading, 4-6 April, 2006. As we approach the end of the decade searches of “bullshit” with google scholar and google books give the following number of hits respectively: 26000 and 21400 ( as accessed on Dec. 7, 2005 ). Finally, we have climategate! While we can argue about whether global warming is scientifically proven or not, there can be no doubt that truthiness and bullshit resulted not in a conspiracy, which requires intelligence and would probably not be possible when a large number of scientists is involved; however, it is obvious that many jumped on the bandwagon hoping to catch a few trips to conferences and get some grants. Let’s face, the road to hell is paved with truthiness and bullshit even if it is travelled in the name of doing good!

No comments:

Post a Comment