The Destructive Power of Trump’s Lies and Chernobyl

The Destructive Power of Trump’s Lies and Chernobyl June 6, 2019

This is essentially a Quote of the Day piece, but with a little more. On another thread, 3lemenope made a passing comment about Harry Frankfurt’s claims on bullshitting in the context of Donald Trump and his egregious number of lies. At present, the Washington Post has clocked him as telling 10,111 lies. 3lemenope states:

Frankfurt’s classic “On Bullshit” makes a creditable case that they are actually separate phenomenon, even though both generally consist of telling falsehoods. The difference is in intent, and the moral difference lays behind one being potentially far more harmful than the other.

A traditional liar intends to induce in their audience an apprehension about the world that they know is false and intend the audience to take as true. To achieve this, the liar must be concerned with the prior state of truth, and in order to maintain the lie must continue that concern so as to find and conceal the seams between reality and what they are peddling as reality.

A bullshitter, on the other hand, does not care one whit about the truth. They don’t care about the truth as understood prior to their contribution by the audience, and they don’t care about the plausibility, continuity, or integrity of their own false addition past its utterance. They just, usually, want to see how many falsehoods they can get a person to swallow so that they can damage the general sense of the solidity of truth and reality. In that ambiguity they can rush in with whatever scheme, manipulation, or con-job they wish, secure in the idea that the bullshit they’ve created keeps everyone just off-balance enough that they can’t be sure of the deception and call out the bullshitter as a deceiver, at least until the bullshitter has already moved on.

This is a great comment looks at the difference between lies and bullshitting or exaggeration to bend truth so that it no longer has any visible similarity to its original form.

Die Anyway replied:

Yes, but there is a nuanced difference between the two kinds of lies. Trump claiming his inauguration was bigger than Obama’s is bullshitting…. exaggeration to make himself look better. Trump not releasing his tax returns because they are “being audited” is an outright lie. There’s a different reason entirely that he is trying to hide. So basically he is both a bullshitter and a liar. Not exactly a paragon of virtue.

A lovely, understated finish. The point is, Trump is a continual, daily expulsion of lies and bullshit so that he has become a festering mess of dishonesty.

I finished watching Chernobyl last night, which is a fantastic series, and couldn’t help but think that the subject of the final scenes in a courtroom was Trump and his lies. Culture, economics,  society, politics… we are on the brink of an abstract nuclear explosion that has real and tangible consequence when lies pervade so ubiquitously.

I have created a video that includes the scene here. Check it out:


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