February 10, 2013

About "On Bullshit" and ME-CFS-INFO
1. About "On Bullshit"
About ME/CFS


Yesterday I started a new version of the old section RESOURCES, with central index file ME-Resources The new version is called ME-CFS-INFO and I edited and added some today, of which a little more in section 2, while probably more will be added today to ME-CFS-INFO.

I've also several times over the last year or so mentioned "On Bullshit", published in 2005 by Harry Frankfurt, emeritus professor of philosophy of Princeton University, and I found out today that there is a videio interview with him on line, that I link and have a few comments on.

1. About "On Bullshit"

Here is Frankfurt's own description of bullshit (aka baloney, bogosity, BS, crap) as cited in my entry on it in my Philosophical Dictionary, an entry that still needs finishing:
It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
-- Harry Frankfurt, "On Bullshit"
There is a video-interview, in the wmv format, with Harry Frankfurt. It lasts about 10 minutes:

Click image and the video will start if your browser can open it

As he says in the course of the interview, one important reason for the increase in bullshit, especially since around 1970, is marketing aka "public relations", that was made into a major social force by Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays.

The explanation for the widespread occurence of bullshit is that there is a lot of sales talk, and that sales talk is almost always bullshit - for which a more polite term is rhetoric (<- Wikipedia [1]), already analyzed by Aristotle in a book, and also by Plato:
Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men.
-- Plato
The influence and frequency of bullshit also got further strenghtened by two tendencies that destroyed much of education: (1) postmodernism, that insisted truth is relative, if it exists at all [1], and (2) the levelling of education of all kinds, that started in the Sixties, since when the entry and end terms of most subjects in schools and universities have been lowered and simplified. [2]

The essence of the matter is that where sales talk - rhetoric, baloney, bogosit, BS, crap - takes over, truth goes out of the window:

The point of bullshit and rhetoric is to persuade an audience by any means - and being honest, keeping to what one knows the facts are, not pretending knowledge where one is ignorant, not exaggerating, not creating false impressions, all of which are both the methods and the ends of real science are totally at variance with the ends of persuading an audience.

These days, large parts of psychiatry; considerable parts of medicine especially pharmacology and the means of testing, selling and marketing medical drugs; large parts of philosophy, the social sciences, and linguistics, and almost all of public discourse has been taken over by (post-)modern rhetoricians - wellpaid, highly trained
public relations professionals and professional marketeers, who are willing to sell any point of view and any product to any audience for money, and who are generally able to do so wherever there is no strong premium on honesty or no strong and effective sanctions against liars and conmen.

But these days, the best liars and conmen work in marketing and public relations, and have managed to make large sections of the public believe that truth is what persuades an audience, and that terms like "liars and conmen" are "inappropriate" and "disrespectful".

For more on marketing, public relations, postmodernism, bullshit, fraud, manipulation, and large scale deception of the public see 
"The Century of the Self" (<- Youtube), which also has a Wikipedia link: The Century of the Self.

2. About ME-CFS-INFO

As I said, I started this yesterday, and meanwhile did a little more: I removed some files I had uploaded, and I wrote some notes in aa-me-what-is-me-cfs, notably this


Here are some basic problems that come with ME/CFS
  • One basic problem with the disease is that it has no clear biological marker - which is the case for many diseases in history, or indeed for all until modern medical science started, in the time of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch (second half of the 19th C) and the time modern chemistry also was started.
  • Another basic problem is that the disease may be relatively light, where one can work part time (some times), to very severe, where one can do hardly anything at all, and indeed this may be true of one and the same patient. 
  • A third basic problem is that there are probably (more probably than not) several causes for what are nominally the same list(s) of symptoms. Two related and similar diseases are Fibromyalgia (F.M.), that also has no known biological marker, and (chronic) Lyme disease, that has a known biological marker, but that may not be established.
  • A fourth basic problem is that there are various lists of symptoms claimed to be characteristic for M.E. or C.F.S. or both, that vary considerably in whom they included and exclude: One criterion many patients with ME/CFS for years agree on is that the disease gets worse with exertion, but this criterion is not in several criterions that are used for diagnosing patients and doing research on diagnosed patients. The above list prefixed "CC-"include the criterion.
  • A fifth basic problem is that since the late 1980ies psychiatristst and clinical psychologists have falsified all the research, in a thoroughly dishonest and fundamentally pseudoscientific manner also, by insisting that "M.E." should be called "C.F.S." and/because it is not an physical disease but some form of psychiatric disorder, and have insisted - as they do now in the DSM-5  - that  people with medically unexplained diseases and also many people with medically explained diseases are in fact psychiatric cases, that should be managed by psychiatrists, and not by real medical doctors. (Psychiatrists have a medical B.A. but few seriously practised real medicine.)

There is more in
aa-me-what-is-me-cfs and there will be more in ME-CFS-INFO
as long as I have the health to update it.

[1] As with many Wikipedia articles, this is too much influenced by postmodernist bullshit. For example I quote from the article (minus a link to a note):
Robert L. Scott states that rhetoric is, in fact, epistemic. His argument is based on the belief that truth is not a central, objective set of facts but that truth is based on the situation at hand. Scott goes as far as stating that if a man believes in an ultimate truth and argues it, he is only fooling himself by convincing himself of one argument among many possible options. Ultimately, truth is relative to situated experiences, and rhetoric is necessary to give meaning to individual circumstances.
In brief: There is no truth, there only is persuasion, or the lack of it;  there is only sales talk, posturing, pretending, and bullshitting, all for money; and those not willing to bullshit will be beaten in the argument by liars and conmen who insist there are no liars and conmen because there is no truth and no honest speaking, and only dysfunctional idealists who do not know the ways of the world are so stupid as to believe in truth and honesty, and to try to practice it.

Note that Mr Scott will believe in truth and honesty when somebody stands on his toes and argues that the salary of a man like him can be reduced by 99% because there is no true or valid claim on any salary, and if he has pain in his toes he should see a shrink and get some pills to get rid from his dysfunctional beliefs.

Also, I first knew about the notion that
Ultimately, truth is relative to situated experiences,
from groups of former officers of the SS in the 1950ies, who probably had it from Heidegger, who was a Nazi under Hitler.

But OK what such and other folks, notable postmodernists and bullshititers are trying to tell you is this: There is no truth, there were no concentration camps, and everything any man or woman or child thinks or believes is propaganda.

Let me freely translate what I quoted from Wikipedia into tolerably clear and honest English, rather than grandiloquent humbuggery:
Robert L. Scott states that the art of deception is, in fact, a serious form of knowledge. His argument is based on the public pretension that truth somehow does not matter, that objective sets of facts are moonshine, and that truth is relative. Scott goes as far as stating that if a man believes in an ultimate truth and argues it, he is only fooling himself by convincing himself of one argument among many possible options: 2+2=22 in Scott's Brave New World of and for Public Relations. Somehow, truth is relative, and lies and deception are necessary to make money from the ignorant masses, and make the worse seem better, and the true seem non-existent.
In contrast, I hold with W.K. Clifford that in the matter of one's socially important beliefs:"it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".

But then I know that one does not get far with no real talent except a willingness to make a career based on lying and deceiving, so yes, I can understand the huge attractions of postmodernism and bullshit: For every honest genius there are a million lying and deceiving salesmen, bullshitters, marketeers, and frauds of no talents other than for lying and deceiving.

[2] Those who lack a proper education lack the education to judge truly that they lack it, but all seem to have learned - these days, in Europe and the US - to demand "respect", to complain about "inappropriate" words, and to accuse anyone who defeats them in fair argument as "elitarian" or as guilty of "verbal violence". For what people were denied, see "The Cult of the Expert" by Brian J. Ford, and "The Closing of the American Mind - How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students" by Harold Bloom.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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