Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Bullshit


Following my posts on Bullshit, son Thomas sent me a link to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist:
"It’s an old truism among journalists that if a headline ends in a question mark (”Is this the answer to the Bermuda Triangle?” “Did aliens build the Pyramids?” etc etc) there’s no need to read further. The answer is always “No”."
In one review in 2009 he wrote:
This story is a great demonstration of my maxim that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no”. The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it. Which, of course, is why it’s so common in the Daily Mail.
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BTW, ever wondered by something that is misleading should be referred to as bovine excrement?

The origin of the term has nothing to do with male cows.

Instead, the word "Bull", meaning nonsense, dates from the 17th century, while the term "bullshit" dates to the early years of the 20th century. 

The Oxford English Dictionary cites bull with the meaning "trivial, insincere, untruthful talk or writing, nonsense". It describes this usage as being of unknown origin, but notes that in Old French, the word could mean fraud, deceit, trickery, and that in Middle English it referred to falsehood, and as a verb, to befool, mock, cheat.

The earliest attestation mentioned by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary is T. S. Eliot, who between 1910 and 1916 wrote an early poem to which he gave the title "The Triumph of Bullshit". The word bullshit does not appear in the text of the poem, and Eliot himself never published the poem. 

The term came into popular use during WW2.



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