Home » Nooze » Zero Tolerance for (CowPuckey)

Zero Tolerance for (CowPuckey)

A person who is connected in today’s world is a person who is constantly bombarded by information, far more than most of us can honestly make sense of. Much of it is neither exactly true or false, but simply a perspective that is alien to us. A large number of unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the situation and will say just about anything without taking the time or energy to even care whether it is true or false.  As we develop the skills to navigate the constant stream of information that comes our way, I think it’s time that we all have a Zero Tolerance policy towards (CowPuckey).

To start, if you have not read my previous essay On (CowPuckey) I present the definition of the problem there.  The short version is that some con artists will say whatever they think will give some advantage over other people.  We all know that when presented with a potential deal that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, but in politics these daze we often are presented with ideas and factoids that sound too stupid to be true – and they usually are.

Why has (CowPuckey) become so endemic?  I believe we simply have excess media space to fill.  People generally want to fill these channels because it gives them either money, power, or fame.  These speakers, as humans, have all the usual human frailties, including denial and laziness.  The first thing I believe we have to remember is that all of this information is just a connection between people that otherwise wouldn’t have any contact at all.  We may not know much about their motives or perspectives, but we can be sure that they are humans.

The skills needed to navigate this have not been fully developed.  What I find attractive about Citizen Journalism is not the idea that everyone can be a reporter, but that being a reporter can help people to understand how to better consume the information surrounding them.  It seems to me that the only real skill that you need to be a journalist is to have a good (CowPuckey) detector – something we all need.

If we can establish that we’re all people and that we’re in a situation where we need to be able to tease out an honestly unique perspective from pure (CowPuckey), I think a little common sense and common decency will go a long way.  It’s worth repeating over and over again – if it sounds too stupid to be true, it probably is.

A Zero Tolerance policy towards (CowPuckey) begins with simply ignoring the teevee shows, blogs, politicians, and everything else that violate these basic principles.  That may sound ignorant or arrogant, but turning off this noize is the first step towards getting some time to think.  If a person is giving you nothing but (CowPuckey), you will probably emerge from the experience less informed than when you started.  By that standard, most of today’s media and many politicians are not actually increasing people’s awareness, they are decreasing it.  Better informed people pay no attention to it at all.

The next step is to stand up to (CowPuckey) directly.  I know that there are a lot of well meaning people out there who have tried but have made terrible strategic mistakes that only legitimize the (CowPuckey).  As an example of how to do it right, see “Tomorrow’s spam today” written by one of Minnesota’s finest journalists, in every sense of the word, Bob Collins of MPR.  The short version is that a senior center thought that taking Federal money meant their clients could not pray aloud before meals without violating separation of church and state.  Simple, and wrong, enough, yes?  Where this becomes pure (CowPuckey) is when a very human error is used as proof that government is oppressive and out to squash religion.  It fails the “Too stupid to be true test” quickly.

I like this example because many people might earnestly respond by citing lengthy Federal regulations and case law to prove that the person who made the original decision was wrong.  That would only engage the (CowPuckey) and carry it forward into something that appears to be a legitimate discussion.  Read how Bob Collins handled it to see what a true Zero Tolerance policy looks like –  actively calling the (CowPuckey) for what it is and making the human connection that is often missing.

We can all join in the Zero Tolerance towards (CowPuckey).  We nee to minimize our contact with infotainment that actually renders us less informed.  We can also call (CowPuckey) just what it is.  To do any of this, however, we have to start by remembering that we are just people and we all need some time to think if we are going to make sense of the tremendous connection we have with our world.  If it sounds too stupid to be true, it probably is.

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12 thoughts on “Zero Tolerance for (CowPuckey)

  1. Brilliant, as always, but keep in mind that some of what you say is pretty simple and might sound like bullshit to some people who think it’s also too stupid to be true. That’s the problem with common sense sometimes.

  2. I think that you could go a lot further in trying to figure out why people are so obsessed with using media to become famous or powerful. You touched on this a bit with Balloon Boy and probably should just have a link back. But I think that these are very different people from most of us once they get this really strong bug to be famous for whatever reason. I do not understand them at all. Sometimes people really do stupid things just to be famous all the same and that is what I have trouble making any sense of.

  3. Ow! You’re after me here! 🙂 Great comments, a lot of strong additions already.

    Dale: Simple is very different from stupid. That might be a tough distinction to make, so maybe I should spend more time on it. People do and say things for reasons, most of which have more to do with being humans than the particular system they think they are beholden to. Yes, fear of a system can make people do things and that’s worth noting, but generally we are a free people that act for our own personal reasons.

    Janine: I have to admit you’re just right here. I don’t understand these people, either. I recently started to realize that being popular is very important to a lot of people, maybe even most people. Famous is just a hyper-version of popular.

    Why is this? I have to admit that I can’t say. But I think that doing or saying something stupid just to be popular (or famous) is a very human thing to do, but attributing something to a very stupid reason is very different. I think the example I gave is an excellent one, if maybe a bit black and white.

    This is definitely worth thinking and talking about some more. You got me here.

  4. “Never wrestle a pig – you both get dirty but the pig likes it”. That’s why I don’t argue on the internet with the people who say anything. That would be most of them. Read the comments in the Pioneer Press and you will see that people say just about anything to win an argument. Not at all worth it. Most bloggers are about the same.

  5. I keep getting distracted by your use of “CowPuckey” and wish you could just use “bulls–it.” The power of words for framing ideas, I guess. Yes, we definitely all need better “B.S.-detectors” and the current state of media (with the possible exception of MPR) does not help things.

    It is a challenge to stand up to stand up to the crap we get from political spinners without legitimizing their b.s. Totally agree there: by adopting their rhetoric instead of developing our own, we again risk losing control of the message. I’ve always thought speaking truth to power is the way to get our values articulated, and we should be unashamed to do that. I do hope the Dems figure this out while they are in power instead of waiting until they are relegated to the minority again (which will happen if we don’t learn from past mistakes).

  6. Cristy: I thought I should sanitize the main text – it was a hard decision on my part, but I’ve worked long and hard to elevate humble blogging to something a little bit more. I’d hate to lose credibility after all that effort.

    Ellie: There’s nothing wrong with saying to people, “That’s bullshit, you have nothing to back up what you say”. I agree, we can’t argue with bullshitters, but we can call them for what they are.

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  8. I completely agree with your assessment that relying on the infotainment actually leaves you LESS informed than you were prior to exposing yourself to the BS Merchants.

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