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Bullshit and Truthiness

A humorous philosopher and a philosophic comedian have redefined two terms to better describe shortcomings of the media and political debates. Harry Frankfurt, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University, wrote a short book about Bullshit.
Bullshitting is distinct from lying and it is worse for public discourse in the long run. Liars make deliberately false claims about what is true, but they know the truth and they try to hide it. Bullshitters, however, are not concerned about whether anything at all is true, they are just indifferent to the truth. Excessive bullshitting can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. More in Slate and in this ten minute video interview with Prof. Frankfurt. Or just buy the book for less than 10$ (8 €) at or
Many Bullshitters do not care about the truth, but about truthiness, which is stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. The American Dialect Society (pdf) voted "truthiness" as the Word of the Year 2005, because Stephen Colbert reinvented it on his first episode of his satirical television program the Colbert Report.
Wikipedia as a long entry:
Truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination. (...) By using the term as part of his satirical routine, Colbert seeks to critique the tendency to rely upon "truthiness," and its use as an appeal to emotion in contemporary socio-political discourse.
Colbert is a liberal pretending to be a conservative, but truthiness -- as well as bullshit -- are common practice across the political spectrum on both sides of the Atlantic.
From Sonja: Comedian Stephen Colbert's biting satire at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner has been the talk of town for weeks. Watch the whole, original broadcast. "Finally, somebody from the press, somebody at all is speaking up! Bush was not amused", was a common reaction among my Seattleite friends.


Atlantic Review on : The National Review labels Joschka Fischer as Nazi Propaganda Minister

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Parts of the conservative media in the US are still obsessed with Germany's former Chancellor Schroeder and his Foreign Minister Fischer, although both have been out of office for more than half a year. The National Review Online is not a fringe right-win


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Fuchur on :

Marvellous! I loved the slate article. But I must say that I favor some of the proposed alternatives like [i]balderdash[/i] or [i]humbug[/i] even more. And I didn't even know that [i]palaver[/i] is also an English word. I always thought it was German dialect (where does it come from, anyway?). I especially enjoyed the explanation that Bush's talk about Uranium from Niger in his 2003 State of the Union address was bullshit, since I've made that point quite a few times myself. (Although, when it comes to bullshit, the undisputed master is IMHO a certain German Gazprom employee who does absolutely NOT dye his hair.)

davod on :

In Australia we have a saying - Bullshit baffles brains every time.

Mike Crabe on :

Well to be honest, in our country, we dont have any sayings

FAT on :


Louis on :

I also know that "Bullshit" can be used as an interjection (or in many other parts of speech) and can carry a wide variety of meanings. Most commonly, it is used in connection with incorrect, misleading, or false language and statements. While the word is generally used in a deprecating sense, it may imply a measure of respect for language skills, or frivolity, among various other benign usages.

dmarvin on :

Bullshit (also bullcrap, bullplop, bullbutter, horseshit) is a common American English expletive which may be shortened to the euphemism bull or the initialism B.S. In British English, "bollocks" is a comparable expletive, although bullshit is now commonly used in British English as well as in essays. And in satire, truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts

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