“One of the most salient features of our culture is there is so much bull----.”
Harry G. Frankfurt, Princeton philosophy professor
How many of you have met the book smart 4.0 magna cum laude lady who, in regard to street smarts, is a magna dumb loopy chick? What about the poor honey who is neither book nor street smart? What a shame, eh? My goal for my girls is for them to own the twain. My wife and I push our daughters to academic excellence; we insist that they strain their brains so they won’t sound like Paris Hilton when they open their mouths.
That being said, as much as I want my little rays of sunshine to have a high GPA (not that a jiffy GPA means squat anymore given the bogus bunk being taught in school) I want them to have an equal or higher level of street smarts: what some would call a sixth sense, an otherness, a discerning spirit, a fourth dimension, or what I call a well-honed and greased BS Detector (BSD).
Street smarts will give our kids the shrewdness to see through the veil of crap most guys, governments, gimmicks, gadgets, gurus and evil girlfriends live behind. Being the helpful guy that I am, I want to help you help your kids whet their BSD and overcome any proclivity they have to becoming as sharp as a sack of wet rats and assist them to discern that which is detrimental to their lives—even if it’s all dressed up as the greatest thing in all the world.
Bad dates, greasy politicians, scum sucking marketing leeches, PR mooks, agents, corporate America, late night infomercials, televangelists, used car salesmen, and mechanics all love the gullible dolt who has a weak dung detector. Therefore parents, one of the most important things you can ever do for your offspring is to help them become shrewd and skeptical young ‘un who cannot be bamboozled by people, places, and ideas that seek to do them harm.
So what is BS?
You can call it bull crap, or the nicer sounding Latin term “stercore tauri,” or simply bull, horse hockey, bollocks, gobbledygook, humbug, Reverend Wright, tall tale, propaganda, fiction, lie, bunkum, spin, or truthiness. Whatever you want to call it, BS can be defined as: “Communications where reality and truthfulness aren’t nearly as vital as the ability to manipulate the audience to get it to do whatever one wants done.”
Unofficially, the term BS wove its way into the American whoop and warp back in 1915 when Theodore Roosevelt screamed it after he saw an ugly bearded woman carrying a temperance sign. The earliest attestation mentioned by the Concise Oxford Dictionary is in fact T. S. Eliot, who between 1910 and 1916 wrote an early poem to which he gave the title “The Triumph of Bullshit.” In American slang the term came into popular usage during World War II.