February 11, 2004


Phillip Adams writes:

In this era of technological triumphalism and digital dazzlements, you would think someone would have come up with a BSD. A bullshit detector. With circuitry installed in your TV, computer or mobile phone ready to buzz or blink when someone tries to lay it on with a trowel.

The old joke that asks: "How can you tell when a politician's lying?" is answered by: "When his lips move." Yet too many people remain oblivious to political lying. In many cases such credulity is wilful, a deliberate choice.

Tell us again about that plastic turkey, Phillip.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 11, 2004 01:30 AM

"Those fortunate enough to have a natural aptitude for BS detection were trying to warn the world what was going on throughout the preamble to the war in Iraq."

Which if I recall involved predicting "A STALINGRAD LIKE DOOM FOR THE INFIDELS!"

Posted by: Random_Prose at February 11, 2004 at 01:40 AM

It's one thing for Adam's to list a couple of intelligence screw-ups (Bay of Pigs etc) but what he has to realise is that - in fairness - he should also credit the intelligence VICTORIES as well. Can intelligence agencies do anything right in his eyes??

Posted by: Dylan Kissane at February 11, 2004 at 01:57 AM

Mostly it's humbug, not bullshit, from politicians. With humbug, you're concerned what sort of person people think you are. You claim deep and meaningful things concern you.

With bullshit, you don't care whether something's true or not, you're just putting it out to fill airtime.

I recomment Harry Frankfurt's _On Bullshit_. It's usually somewhere on the net, for instance here . It starts, just for flavor:

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.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at February 11, 2004 at 02:44 AM

I'm more seriously concerned by Phil using the extraordinary and privileged public platform he has via his columns in the Australian newspaper to defend his business interests and to promote his wife's books. How do we get some of that action? Wouldn't it be marvellous if we could all be paid to influence the opinions of thousands of influential, powerful readers.

Posted by: The Gnu Hunter at February 11, 2004 at 06:46 AM

There is an fool proof bullshit detector about fourpages into the Australian magazine. When there is text on the page you know someone is laying it on with a trowel.

Posted by: dave at February 11, 2004 at 08:07 AM

Tell us again about those magical 45 minutes, Tim.
You know, the ones Rummie can't seem to remember his own President mentioning.
No WMD and no 'program' revealed showing a capability to build WMD within 45 minutes if needed.
Big, expensive, life ending LIES.
Surely you remember hearing the claim, why the silence on this one?

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at February 11, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Mass murderer loving Sincerity Slips seems confused. I recall it was Tony Blair who made the 45 minute claim in Parliament based on information received from an Iraqi Air Force captain who was an agent for French intelligence.


Ah well, if he had a brain he wouldn't be a mass murder loving Saddamite Leftist who wants to see Saddam back in power.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at February 11, 2004 at 01:06 PM

Stupid article, but Great Alliterator has done it again!
Seriously, folks; it's a disgrace that Adams can write for a, by and large, quality paper. It's not his views, it's his dull, pompous style; at least Bob Ellis, who's clearly in a permanent Stoli stupor, makes me laugh.
An other regular I can't fathom why The Australian persist on foisting upon us; the "cartoonist" in the weekend magazine, usually on one of the last pages, bottom of the page. Anyone ever cracked a smile?
Maybe Phillip.

Posted by: Adam Phillips at February 11, 2004 at 01:34 PM

Curious that the people who constantly allege "Bush lied" make up lies for their allegations, since they cannot find any actual lies by him. I guess they figure if they tell enough lies enough times some of them will stick.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at February 11, 2004 at 02:55 PM

Yes of course I made it all up, Paul. Nobody heard President Bush make the claim TWICE in the one speech in September 2002

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at February 11, 2004 at 03:15 PM

Hows this one, Michael and Paul.

The horse's own mouthpiece good enough???

Whitehouse Global Message 26/09/02
The danger is grave and growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons and is rebuilding facilities to make more. It could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb -- and, with fissile material, could build one within a year.


Posted by: Sincerity Slips at February 11, 2004 at 03:22 PM

Sincerity Slips,
your email address is nauseatingly wanky...
Does it say anything about you?

Posted by: Krusader_of_Kulture at February 11, 2004 at 03:34 PM