Saturday, May 4, 2019

Where Did All the Crap-Detectors Go?

There is a phrase young folk use that I really like. When someone is saying something that they know can't be true, something that sets off their crap-detector, they tell them "I'm calling bullshit on that!"

The term crap-detector might have been coined, and was certainly used, by Earnest Hemingway, writing about the qualities a good writer must have. My personal use of the term stretches back into my youth. Young folk should always be suspicious and I certainly was.

In my opinion, the purpose of a good education is to give young folks the ability to think critically and, especially, to think for themselves. As a parent, this was something I made sure both our children had.

These days a crap-detector is more important than ever, with so much nonsense on the internet and in the media, cleverly cloaked to seem plausible and factual. Some might think, because the big lie has made such a striking return in the past three years, that concern in the educational community about this is new, however, here is a good article from 2013, "The Art and Science of Crap Detection".

In the last few decades, educators in North America have been pressured to devote less time to encouraging critical thought by the introduction of standardized testing (a process of finding how well a student can regurgitate any form of nonsense put before them) by a series of neoliberal governments. Even when standardized tests include problem solving, the type of problem is predictable - designed so that students can be coached intensively. All of this coaching involves an emphasis on certain narrow skills. It does not involve development of the young person's critical thought processes.

There is little doubt that politicians and power brokers want, more than anything, to have a population that is easily led. A population taught to mindlessly regurgitate nonsense in order to pass a test is a perfect recipe for their ideal; a mindless and gullible electorate.

It seems to me that a trend in leadership for the mainstream political parties has been to select a front-person who can do the best distraction dance.

Some of these party leaders are quite amazing. Imagine a person who has had money and privilege all their life, who has openly stated their disdain for the poor in the past, managing to convince large groups of poor that in spite of the voting record of their party, they are "in it for the average working-class stiff". That sort of shell game works best on a populace that cannot manage, or be bothered, to know that the legislation being passed is almost exclusively designed to keep them poor and ignorant, and put more money into the hands of those who already have too much.

Can we find a way to move the focus of whole electorates to the truth of the bait-and-switch that is going on? Can anyone retune and set off the long neglected crap-detectors of whole nations?

I will not blindly trust information I find online. I will not ...


  1. Currently, my crap detection goes as far as inspecting my rose beds after the local cats have been on a night out....every night out!

    1. I expect Coline to be disappointed that she didn't get to be first to write a similar comment.
      Clearly you need some dachshunds to keep those cats out! :-)

  2. Hi Deanna
    Fact is crap detectors and their fact checkers can’t keep up with Twitter bursts of 6o or more in the space of a few hours from the highest office in the land.
    Take the latest salvo China pays the tariffs on imports. Even a first year high school economics student realises that is false. The importer picks up the tab and the customers pay an increased price unless there is margin erosion.. The trouble is the 60 million or so Twitter followers start to believe the crap if it is related often enough as factual. I am afraid you need an upgraded model.
    Best wishes

    1. You are, of course, right Lindsay - nobody can keep up. Another saying definitely applies: Bullshit Baffles Brains.

      It is misdirection of a very high order. It would be mesmerizing and entertaining if the consequences weren't so dire.

  3. Hi Deanna,
    True, as you may be aware, as per the public record consider the following, Trump’s IPO( initial public offering of his realestate plus casino holdings ) 20 years ago, By 2005 those who bought the shares on the stock market had lost 90% of their initial floated value. Creditors stepped in with Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, During this time others in similar industries did very well for their shareholders. In the past 25 years Trump businesses have passed through bankruptcy 4 times,
    Best wishes