Lying between truth and falsity

We owe much to the academics among us. People who get to the bottom of things: things we take for granted, don’t have a clue about, or haven’t the time to consider.

Professor Harry G. Frankfurter is such a guy. Not one to assume, he yearns to know. Like Dickens’ Mr. Pickwick, he strives to arrive at the source of things. In so doing, he gets out front by obtaining valuable information the rest of us need but have to play catch up to acquire.

Take, for example, the increasing amount of bull**** emanating from so many quarters. The professor conducted an in-depth study of the subject some time ago, but only recently have his efforts been fully appreciated. Only now, when faced with so much of it, do we look to him for guidance as to how best to handle the stuff.

Professor Frankfurt wrote a book setting forth his observations and conclusions entitled “On Bull****” — a hands-off approach to a slippery subject.

It has come to this.

Straight away, the professor points out that BS sets itself apart from both the overt lie and the provable truth. It exists, he discovered, in that void between them, where there is little regard for either.

To be a liar, the professor says, he or she must know what the truth is. Otherwise, they could be accused of carelessness or ignorance. To be a good liar requires a degree of knowledge, coupled with a willingness to ignore it.

On the other hand, BS is not so much planned or conceived as it is dumped, not so much the product of consideration as something simply emitted.

Did I mention Professor Frankfurt is a professor of philosophy?

George Hegel once observed that we learn from history that we do not learn from history. Likewise, with BS, we learn from it that we do not learn from it, a learning progression that takes time, but hopefully, not too much of it.

Still, bull**** has its followers.

Why so many and why so much of it?

The professor attributes the increase in BS to a state of affairs where more opportunity is presented for its use. Current circumstances promote someone’s speaking when they don’t have a clue what should be said.

The professor informs us that “bull****” is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what they are talking about.

Indeed, uninformed discourse is promoted. People are encouraged to exercise their freedom of speech, not to allow any opportunity to comment pass, even though they have nothing to say worth considering. It is, after all, their constitutional right — unless their words incite an illegal purpose.

Consider those early trumped-up COVID-19 treatment recommendations, or the characterization that mask-wearing to deter airborne pathogens is an affront to your freedom.

Then consider what Voltaire said: “Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can cause you to commit atrocities.”

The more TV cameras around, the better — or the worse, depending on whether you’re slinging it, receiving it, or in some mob being motivated by it.

But, even without images, preventative steps are available. Our state’s attorney general has created an anti-BS website. Google “Michigan AG Consumer Alerts”.

There, you will find information that can be helpful when dealing with several potentially BS- laden situations: delinquent income tax assistance, extended auto warranties, reverse mortgages, pension advances, fixed and variable annuities, to name a few.

Information that could save you a lot of money — and that’s no BS.

After all is said and done, it makes little or no difference if it’s a lie or just bull**** — best to treat those two imposters just the same.


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