Category Archives: Bullshit

Breaking Bubbles

615427_10151224031087683_1802102030_oAnna-Liisa quit her job at Dawson College in my dream last night and opened up a wildly successful soap-making business which was eventually transformed into a hit reality-TV show entitled Breaking Bubbles. I still think she should have gone with Soap Club, but, you know, whatever, it’s her show.

SPOILER ALERT: In the first episode of Breaking Bubbles—entitled “She Had No Idea What She Was Getting Into”—Anna-Liisa’s business gets raided by the FDA, and rival soap-making queen Anne-Marie, founder of Bramble Berry®, hires Russian hackers to crash her website.

As Anna-Liisa discovers, the soap-making business isn’t for the faint of heart.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2017)

Exorcist Wanted

boot-demonMy winter boots are possessed. Not both boots, mind you. Just the right one. Look, I know it sounds funny, but I’ve got a boot demon (Ruth says they call ’em “booters” in Winnipeg). Regardless, this little devil’s driving me crazy! At the most random times—there’s really no rhyme or reason to it—he squirts me with water (or demon pee, it’s hard to be sure). I’ll be walking down the street, or sitting on the bus, or standing in line at the grocery store, and SWOOSH: my sock’s soaked. Just like that. Oh, and just so we’re clear, it’s not like I’m stepping in slush puddles just before this happens. If that were the case, the periodic swooshing might make sense. If I had a hole in my right boot, the swooshing might make sense. If it was happening to both feet, it might make sense. But none of these things are true. There’s no rational explanation for what’s happening. That’s why, at this point, I think it’s logical to assume that my right boot has been possessed by the Fredo Corleone of the underworld: a dimwitted demon, a lesser loser of Lucifer’s legion, who shouldn’t be too hard to exorcise. If you, or someone you know, has the requisite skills, please contact me forthwith! Booter specialists preferred but generalists welcome.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2016)

McNuggets (9) of Wisdom, or: “It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims”

1091. Be authentic. Do you. Don’t pretend, ever. Be in a state of absolute self-knowledge – like a self-aware MacBook Pro.

2. Travel. There is something new under the sun after all, and tourists are never dilettantes.

3. Stop being so critical about everything. It will make bad movies easier to bear and likelier to get the green light, so it’s win-win.

4. Find a purpose in life. There is no greater achievement for a human being than to become a tool.

5. Stop ruminating on your dilemmas. Thinking is so last century.

6. Network. It’s the way computers communicate, and look how efficient they are.

7. You must be able to love yourself before you can love another. And it is unthinkable that loving another might bring you to love yourself.

8. Don’t care so much about what other people think. You’re the only person who really matters, and the world revolves around your life and what you do with it.

9. You can always choose happiness. Because happiness is just some kind of chemical reaction, anyway. See #8.

—Phil Lagogiannis

Elfwick’s Law

A fortnight back, The Guardian newspaper (1) published a worrying article about the rise of fascism—in its new shiny manifestation, spurred on by various online forums. The sub-headline was worrying enough:

screen-shot-of-guardian

“It started with Sam Harris, moved on to Milo Yiannopoulos and almost led to full-scale Islamophobia. If it can happen to a lifelong liberal, it could happen to anyone”. (2)

It made for grim reading, talking about “cult-like” aspects and flirtations with the far right. The poor author, who had started out as a “normal white liberal”, had been almost brainwashed into the “alt-right” was enveloped in a web of “indoctrination”, but just drew themselves back from the brink because “[D]eep down, I knew I was ashamed of what I was doing…”

Some of us who have followed Sam Harris, and his much-maligned attempts to raise the level of public intellectual debate above the banal and asinine, smelled a rat at the first headline. But, for those unfamiliar with him or his work, there were some not so subtle signals. The brainwashed writer went on: “On one occasion I even, I am ashamed to admit, very diplomatically expressed negative sentiments on Islam to my wife. ‘[W]e should be able to discuss these things without shutting down the conversation by calling people racist, or bigots.’”

(Horrifying indeed!)

Oh dear. Anyone who had not seen the signs by this time had been led up a garden path, one decorated with crazy paving, and bordered by Mad Dog-Weed.

The Guardian had been spoofed.

“I’m not a ‘Grammar-Nazi’, I’m ‘Alt-Write’”…

The article had not come from some anonymous anxious young white man who had just managed to pull himself back from the brink of full-blown Nazi extremism after all. So, where had it come from?

There is a scurrilous (and sometimes hilarious) online troll who calls himself “Godfrey Elfwick” and styles himself on Twitter:

“Genderqueer Muslim atheist. Born white in the #WrongSkin. Itinerant jongleur. Xir, Xirs Xirself. Filters life through the lens of minority issues.”

alt-shite

His account parodies the self-abasing virtue signalling of elements of the far left, and is frequently painful reading for the liberally inclined.

“Elfwick” came forward and admitted that the piece was his. It certainly fits with his normal output, and in the time I’ve been aware of him, this is the first time he’s broken through the fourth wall and come out of character. Some were outraged at his fooling of The Guardian, but I think his example is a reminder of the important role that satire has to play in the modern marketplace of ideas.

The Day the Music Died.

The great satirical songster Tom Lehrer dramatically declared the death of satire on the occasion of awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger. How was he, a mere satirist, to approach ridiculing by parody and extension the awarding of the world’s highest peace honor to a man who ordered the carpet bombing of civilians on Christ’s birthday? As the cliché has it: you couldn’t make it up.

This supposed death of satire was much exaggerated. There is always a role for pushing the boundaries of beliefs into absurdity, and one such is when the bearers of such beliefs seem not to have realized that the absurd is where they have taken up more or less permanent residence. And let’s be specific about what I mean by “absurd” here: It means to have abandoned one’s critical faculties to the extent that one is governed by wishful thinking. And one of the ways this is revealed is that the difference between real and fake no longer matters to you. Talk of post-truth worlds or fake news is hot air. We humans have always been suckers for hearing what we want to hear. Satire has always been one of the cures.

But it’s more than just fun at the expense of the hoaxed. A foundational ability in any discipline must be able to tell the real from the fake. Art experts who praised the “furious fastidiousness” of the brushstrokes of Pierre Brassau (actually Peter, a four-year-old chimp from Boras zoo) confirmed what many of us suspected about modern art expertise. (3) The knowledge that wine experts can be fooled by switching expensive and fake labels casts a lot of their expertise into doubt. (4) In the 1970s, Rosenhan’s classic “Being Sane in Insane Places” study threw the whole of the psychiatric community into disarray; by showing that mental health care professionals of the time couldn’t distinguish real patients from ones who were faking it. (5)

Why can’t the opposition just recognise that they are evil and stupid?

An oft-repeated finding in psychology is that expectation conditions perception. We are notoriously easy to hoax when you give us what they want to see. From the Cottingley Fairies, to the Roswell Alien Autopsy, through the Book of Mormon, to Uri Geller, the history of humanity is a history of people seeing daft things because they wanted to.

This is one reason I advise all my students to study a bit of magic. Not enough to turn pro, but just enough to see how hoaxable we all are. It’s like any self-defence course, although in this case it’s mental self-defence. It’s a humbling experience. Anyone can be blindsided and beaten in a fight. Likewise, any of us can be fooled if someone matches our expectations to their pitch.  Ideally, of course, a good scientist should have no expectations, but scientists are human too. Uri Geller for instance, managed to hoax a number of famous physicists but no magicians.

This is one place where satire comes in. In the 1990s Sokal gloriously hoaxed a post-modernist journal called Social Text. (6) He produced an article of high-sounding gibberish that the editors happily let through to publication as it appeared to speak to their idea that science was just one way of knowing among many. It was filled with supposed physics support for bizarre claims about “physical ‘reality’” [being] fundamentally “a social and linguistic construct” and with needs for a “postmodern science [that] provide[s] powerful intellectual support for the progressive political project”.

1996sokaltext01co-museum-of-hoaxes

When he revealed the hoax, what did the editors do? Remove the article in embarrassment? Sore up their editorial policies? Laugh along? Not a bit of it—they somehow tried to maintain the fiction that this tosh was meaningful all along, losing any opportunity to develop their thinking, if thinking it ever was. After Rosenhan’s study, the field of Psychiatry made a concerted effort to tighten its procedures—resulting in new editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Whether it was 100% successful is a different question, but there was an effort to reform in response. But Post Modernism as a field never took this option. Having effectively amputated itself from critical self-reflection, it is now largely moribund, although versions of it still exist to poison efforts at critical reflection in the academy.

Don’t like my opinions of post-modernism? Well, they are true for me…

Now, I’m not claiming that expertise rests on getting it right every time. Expertise does not imply that. But the desire to understand a phenomenon must involve the disciplined attendance to mistakes—so when one is fooled (by nature, colleagues, the maliciously mischievous, or oneself) then one goes back and studies how so it doesn’t happen again. To not do this is to forever live wishfully, rather than authentically attending.

So, what’s the next step? Here’s my suggestion: There are a number of famous Internet laws. Rule 34 is the famous law that somewhere there is a porn version of everything. (7) Godwin’s Law is the tendency over time from all Internet discussions to tend towards an accusation that the opponent is Hitler. An addendum to Godwin’s Law is that the opponent to first yield to the temptation to Hitlerise their opponent automatically loses. (8) Poe’s Law is the rule that any right wing fundamentalist internet site is indistinguishable from a satirical parody of right wing fundamentalist Internet sites. A few minutes on Alex Jones’ will confirm the truth of this. But why should the right wing have it all their own way when it comes to being mocked?

I think we need a new Internet Law to invoke that mirrors Poe’s Law. If a piece of far left virtue signalling cannot be reliably distinguished from a satirical version of it, then this deserves its own nomenclature.

Given his latest achievement I would like to propose the term “Elfwick’s Law” to mark such occasions. If nothing else this would serve as a reminder that descending into parody, and not caring about real or fake, is not the preserve of any political tribe, but is part of common humanity. That’s real equality for you.

—Robert King

elf-meme

References

1) For those not in the UK—The Guardian is a respectable left-leaning broadsheet newspaper.

4) Hodgson, R. T. (2008). An examination of judge reliability at a major US wine competition. Journal of Wine Economics, 3(02), 105-113.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/you-are-not-so-smart-why-we-cant-tell-good-wine-from-bad/247240/

5) Rosenhan, D. K. (1973). On Being Sane In Insane Places. Science, 179, 250-258

A good write-up is here http://www.holah.karoo.net/rosenhanstudy.htm

6) Sokal, A. D. (Ed.). (2000). The Sokal hoax: the sham that shook the academy. U of Nebraska Press.

7) My advice is to never, ever, check on the truth of this.

8) In the light of recent events the use of Godwin’s Law is under judicial review

9) For more details of the Heterodox Academy see: http://heterodoxacademy.org/

((Of course it’s also possible that Godfrey Elfwick is playing some elaborate game of double bluff and I have been fooled along with others. Which would have a touching irony about it! But–let the record show that when respected newspaper (the Guardian) and respected journalist (Glenn Greenwald) were confronted with the hoax accusations their response was to double-down  and, in Greenwald’s case, to insist that truth was not the issue–the piece spoke to a “deeper truth”.

No it doesn’t. Not if it’s false it doesn’t. That’s what true and false mean.
“Elfwick” broke character for the only time I’ve known to share his workings on the hoax the day after and I reproduce them here. Could these also be faked? Well, of course they could but its worth asking –why would he pick this one to lie about? And even if he did–what is going on with a journalist telling the world that mundane sorts of truth (you know, those ones that are actually true) no longer matter? When Harris retweeted a story that turned out to be false he apologized publicly. https://twitter.com/SamHarrisOrg/status/675030323923656704 This is how public debate should be conducted

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(Shared via screenshot from Godrey Elfwicks Twitter account on 29/11/2016)

 

Top 10 Elbowgate Proverbs

1. The elbow is mightier than the sword.

2. The squeaky MP gets the greasy news cycle.

3. Fortune favors the bold bullshitter.

4. Never look a gift accidental elbow in the facts.

5. MP molestation is in the eye of the beholder.

6. Every accidental elbowing has a silver lining.

7. Strike while the elbow is hot.

8. The road to hell is paved with accidental elbows.

9. You reap what you elbow.

10. I went to a fight the other night, and a parliament broke out.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2016)

Shit Aaron Says (season 6, episode 3)

Shit Aaron SaysProfessor Smartypants: “Tony Hoagland is the greatest poet of his generation.”

Aaron Haspel: “Nonsense. The man’s a hack. What he writes isn’t even poetry; it’s prose, and bad prose at that.”

Professor Smartypants: “You should know that I’ve got a PhD in this stuff. Been teaching it for years.”

Aaron Haspel: “Arguments from authority are rarely made by authorities.”

Professor Smartypants: “So you’re going to mansplain literature to me now?”

Aaron Haspel: “Sure. Shall we start with the Elizabethans?”

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2016)

Shit Aaron Says (season 6, episode 2)

Shit Aaron SaysAbbott Student: “How can we get the most out of our college experience?”

Aaron Haspel: “Party a lot. And don’t waste too much time studying.”

Abbott Student: “You’re very critical of the education system in your book. What would you replace it with?”

Aaron Haspel: “Child labor.”

Abbott Student: “How would you summarize the message of your book?”

Aaron Haspel: “You suck so much more than you think.”

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2016)

Letter to an Undercover Brother

Dear Undercover Brother,

The CIA  Memorial Wall inside the entrance of the Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters which currently has 102  stars engraved for each member of the agency that gave of his/her life in the line of duty.  Names of those are listed in the book below, w
The CIA Memorial Wall inside the entrance of the Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters which currently has 102 stars engraved for each member of the agency that gave of his/her life in the line of duty. Names of those are listed in the book below, with a 37 not being listed and will remain Secret for the nature of the work they were doing. Photo: Greg E. Mathieson Sr. / MAI

I’ve often wondered if you were actually an undercover Social Justice Warrior (SJW) masquerading as a champion of men’s rights activism, libertarianism, atheism, and Ayn Rand. I say this because you seem to be hellbent on disgracing and discrediting every single cause you publicly espouse. You’re not particularly good at hiding your blight under a bushel, Plebb. Regardless, I’m done with your idiocy, which is kind of amazing because I have a ridiculously high tolerance for idiocy. I’m not sure if you realize this, but you’re every quote-hunting SJW’s wet dream. A kind of retarded gift that keeps on giving. A veritable slot-machine of stupid that pays out every time. With friends like you, a movement really doesn’t need enemies.

I’ll leave you with this piece of unsolicited advice: If you really love the repulsive causes you espouse day after day in Social Media Land, find a shovel, a big shovel, and go outside right now. Dig a hole, a really deep hole. Then crawl down into it. And stay there. Forever.

But if you’re actually deep in enemy territory, doing the Lord’s work—incognibro, as it were—then please accept my heartfelt apology and carry on, soldier. Seriously, dude, you’re doing a bang up job! And if you should ever fall in the service of our fair country, please know that we’ll be sure to put a star up on the Memorial Wall at Langley for you.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Goldfish (2016)

Mitch Saves Montreal

123wc6Then Mitch stood before the Angry Sky who liveth atop Mount Royal, drew near, and said, “Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked because of our recent election results? Suppose there are fifty righteous dudes within the city of Montreal; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous dudes who are in it? Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous dudes with the wicked, so that the righteous dudes fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the bagels and baguettes in the universe do right?” And the LORD said, “If I find at Montreal fifty righteous dudes in the city, I will spare the whole sinful place for their sake.” Mitch answered, “Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Biggest Bad Ass in the land, I who am but dust and ashes and far too much poutine. Suppose five of the fifty righteous dudes are lacking? Wilt thou destroy Sin City for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him, and said, “Suppose a hot sociology professor who’s recently turned forty is found there.” He answered, “For the sake of that hot prof I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty people with really cool tattoos are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty people with really cool tattoos there.” He said, “Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to The Angry Sky God on Mount Royal. Suppose twenty people with really great dreads are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty people with really great dreads I will not destroy Sin City.” Then he said, “Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there who’ve actually read all of James Joyce’s Ulysses.” He answered, “For the sake of ten who’ve actually read Ulysses I will not destroy it.” And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Mitch; and Mitch went to Else’s.—Genesis 18:22½-33½ (King John Version)

—John Faithful Hamer, The Goldfish (2016)

Are You in a Codependent Relationship? 10 Warning Signs

romeo-and-juliet-2360u3e1. You find it hard to watch TV when your partner is crying.

2. You’re pretty sure you’d care if your partner died.

3. You find that you often think about your partner when he or she’s not around.

4. You find that you care deeply about your partner even when he or she’s no longer useful to you.

5. You find that you care deeply about your partner even when he or she’s no longer fun.

6. You find that you often seem to care about your partner’s needs just as much as your own.

7. You find that you need your partner. And your partner seems to need you too.

8. It upsets you to see your partner upset.

9. You feel an overwhelming desire to take care of your partner when he or she’s sick.

10. You find yourself ready and willing to make sacrifices for your partner.

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a week, seek professional help immediately!

—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2017)