Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Cheating Truth" (MALA course, Fall 2017/Spring 2018)

Welcome to the final block of our Cheating course, "Cheating Truth"... I may be a few minutes late, my Bioethics class goes until 5:45  and I'm coming from the other end of campus. -jpo

I thought our first [Fall ''17] session went well. Looking forward to Spring!

Scroll down to find each week's *quiz and discussion questions. Find as many quiz answers as you can, we'll go over them in class.

Please share your thoughts on Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" (and any suggestions for better ways and words to express the concept, if you recoil from that language).

In Week 2 we'll take up Adam Gopnik's "Norms and Cliffs in Trump's America", Harry Frankfurt's Time essay (below), and anything else in this post you'd care to discuss.

(When last "cheaters" met it was the holiday season, prompting some seasonal humor...)
Image result for thanksgiving cartoon new yorker

See also: "Opinion-y facts" etc. 

*Discussion Questions are posted below, please respond by clicking the "comments" link (you don't have to post your comments prior to our first meeting on the 16th, but of course you may).  I look forward to conversing and "CoPhilosophizing" with you all! jpo
  • MALA 6010-001 (CRN 86683)-Foundations of the Liberal Arts II: Cheating
  • Fall 2017/Spring 2018 - Thursday 6:00-9:00 - COE 148
  • Dr. Leah Tolbert Lyons (Course Coordinator) - Leah.Lyons@mtsu.edu
  • Full course syllabus below**
Block 6: November 16 and 30/April 12 and 19-

“Cheating Truth”

Dr. Phil Oliver (Philosophy and Religious Studies)

Block Description: Reflections on public discourse and "alternative facts" in the politics of our time, in light of philosophers' thoughts on the indispensable value of honesty and truthfulness in civic life and in life generally. We'll examine the claim and implications of the claim that there are no facts, only interpretations. We'll consider the counter-claim that there must be both, and that the failure of some public figures to accept this is subversive of democracy.

Readings Week One:
Harry Frankfurt, "On Bullshit"... and see "How to Spot Bullshit" (video)

Readings Week Two:
Adam Gopnik, "Norms and Cliffs in Trump's America" and tba... "I Study Liars. I've Never Seen Anything Like President Drumpf"-Bella DePaulo***

Assignment: Post your short essay responses to at least two discussion questions each week, replying to this post in a comment below. Discussion questions to be posted soon, watch this space...

Grade Distribution: 50% Essays, 50% Attendance/Participation
*Quiz on "On Bullshit" - find as many answers as you can, we'll go over this in class.

1. Is the prevalence of BS in our culture the product of a relative few?

2. How is the expression often employed?

3. Why can a crisp analysis of BS not avoid being procrustean?

4. What does Frankfurt see as the main difference between BS and "humbug"?

5. Name two suggested synonyms for humbug.

6. Why does "deceptive misrepresentation" sound pleonastic, and what does Max Black probably mean by it?

7. How does humbug relate to lying?

8. Humbug reflects what two categories?

9. Is BS necessarily pretentious?

10. What does a liar/BSer/humbugger misrepresent?

11. How does a bombastic patriotic orator confirm Black's account? (Is he trying to deceive? What does he care about?)

12. What was the point of Wittgenstein's motto?

13. What are some contemporary examples of carefully wrought, well-crafted sophisticated BS?

14. What does the crafty BSer still share with the slovenly craftsman?

15. What did Wittgenstein tell his friend Pascal? (What is his accusation?)

16. Why did Wittgenstein perceive Pascal's statement as BS?

17. What's the essence of BS?

18. What tends to go on in a "bull session"? (What do participants generally recognize? How does it resemble BS?)

19. What does the OED get wrong and right about "bull"?

20. What does BSing have in common with bluffing?

21. What was Simpson's father's advice?

22. How is a BSer more free than a liar?

23. What does a BSer necessarily attempt to deceive us about?

24. Why aren't seven of Augustine's eight types of lie "real lies"?

25. Why does BSing "tend to unfit a person for telling the truth" in a way lying does not? (Why is BS a greater enemy of truth?)

26. Why is it not possible to be sure there's more BS now than ever before?

27. Why is BS so common in public life?

28. What doctrines undermine confidence in truth? What alternative ideal then arises? (And  why does Frankfurt call it BS?)
*DISCUSSION QUESTIONS, Nov.16/Apr 12 (post your replies prior to our next class meeting on Nov.30... and post your own suggested Discussion Questions, and responses thereto, if you wish.)

  • "Bullshit" is a harsh term, though perhaps appropriately so to those who deeply value truth. Are there other terms you prefer, though, that reflect a similar commitment to intellectual honesty and repugnance for both dishonesty and indifference?
  • Do you agree that the prevalence of BS [or call it what you will] is particularly salient in our culture and in our time? Or has always and everywhere been endemic to human societies?
  • Do you find Harry Frankfurt's essay mostly amusing, alarming, both, neither?
  • What can each of us do to combat this phenomenon? How can we as a society raise our collective regard for interpersonal, political, intellectual (etc.) honesty?
  • Do you "contribute [your] share," or do you resent that implied allegation?
  • Are you "confident of your ability to recognize BS" or do you find yourself often or occasionally taken in by it? 
  • How, prior to reading this essay, did you define BS? 
  • "the expression bullshit is often employed quite loosely -- simply as a generic term of abuse, with no very specific literal meaning" - would you find it difficult not to employ the term in this fashion? 
  • Why is our attitude toward BS generally more benign than toward lying? Should it be?
  • Is it inevitable that modern communications technology and the Internet will spread more BS, more paranoia, more conspiracy theorizing etc.? How can this be rectified?
  • Is it the responsibility of every citizen in a democracy to have informed opinions about everything that pertains to his country's affairs?
  • Is there a direct line from BS to denialism*, the subversion of democracy, or other threats to life in an open society?
  • What's your view of this "cheating" situation? ("The Ethicist," nyt) Is total honesty always the best policy? Or is this man's candor another variety of BS?
  • Suggest and comment on your own DQs...

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, we have no theory. I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis. I shall not consider the rhetorical uses and misuses of bullshit. My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not, or (putting it somewhat differently) to articulate, more or less sketchily, the structure of its concept. Any suggestion about what conditions are logically both necessary and sufficient for the constitution of bullshit is bound to be somewhat arbitrary... (continues... quotes)

Bullshit and Philosophy

Bullshit and Philosophy

Guaranteed to Get Perfect Results Every Time

Edited by Gary L. Hardcastle and George A. Reisch
Volume 24 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series
Bullshit is booming, both in the popular media and in the cloisters of academia. Bullshit studies received a tremendous boost from the pioneering work of Harry G. Frankfurt, and yet Frankfurt’s seminal theses opened up more questions than they answered. Now, in Bullshit and Philosophy, some of the most highly trained intellects of our epoch critique Frankfurt and take the discourse beyond Frankfurt. Bullshit and Philosophy has new contributions to the Frankfurt-Cohen debate, searching examinations of hitherto unidentified and unanalyzed species of bullshit, and acute observations on the impact of bullshit in politics, science, the courtroom, and the classroom... Open Court

Google preview...
Complete Bullshit
 by G.A. Cohen

Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit”1 is a pioneering and brilliant discussion of a widespread but largely unexamined cultural phenomenon. On being honored by an invitation to contribute to the present volume, I decided to focus on Frankfurt’s work on bullshit, partly because it is so original and so interesting, and partly because bullshit, and the struggle against it, have played a large role in my own intellectual life. #ey have played that role because of my interest in Marxism, which caused me to read, when I was in my twenties, a great deal of the French Marxism of the 1960s, deriving principally from the Althusserian school... (continues)
Frankfurt on Trump, in Time...

May 12, 2016
Harry G. Frankfurt is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University and the author of On Bullshit.

Donald Drumpf provides a robust example of someone who is, with respect to matters particularly relevant to the exercise of high political authority, neither well-informed nor especially intelligent. Moreover, even apart from these rather egregious cognitive deficiencies, much of what Drumpf has said during his presidential campaign has been—to put it mildly—quite unconvincing. This goes not only for his sometimes boorishly insulting characterizations of the personalities, behaviors and even the physical features of others, but also for his bizarrely self-congratulatory claims concerning his own capacities, plans and intentions.

It is generally easy to identify which of Drumpf’s assertions are, in one way or another, unworthy of belief. What is somewhat more difficult to establish is whether his unmistakably dubious statements are deliberate lies or whether they are just bullshit.

The distinction between lying and bullshitting is fairly clear. The liar asserts something which he himself believes to be false. He deliberately misrepresents what he takes to be the truth. The bullshitter, on the other hand, is not constrained by any consideration of what may or may not be true. In making his assertion, he is indifferent to whether what he is says is true or false. His goal is not to report facts. It is, rather, to shape the beliefs and attitudes of his listeners in a certain way.

When Drumpf said that he observed thousands of people in Jersey City celebrating the destruction of the twin towers by dancing in the streets, it is clear enough that he was lying. After all, there was a great deal of reliable testimony that no such thing had happened. Also, records of Drumpf’s earlier statements make it abundantly clear that he lied when he recently said that he knew nothing about David Duke or about the Ku Klux Klan. Further, in discussing U.S. medical costs since Barack Obama became president, Drumpf said that “we have lousy health-care, where it’s going up 35, 45, 55 percent.” The truth is that, as readily available public records show, medical premiums rose by an average of 5.8% a year since Obama took office, compared to 13.2% in the nine years prior.

However, it is often uncertain whether Drumpf actually cares about the truth of what he says. This makes it unclear whether his assertion is a lie or merely bullshit. Since a person does not lie unless he makes an assertion that he himself takes to be false, we cannot properly say that he is lying if he actually believes what he says.

For example, on May 5, 2016, Drumpf tweeted: “The best taco bowls are made in Drumpf Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” This could hardly be anything other than bullshit. Does he have any real evidence about where the best tacos are, or was he just making it up? Does he really love Hispanic people? Both assertions come across—at least to me—as little more than hot air.

Consider, also, his pronouncement that millions of illegal immigrants will be deported when he becomes president. This is probably also an instance of bullshit: surely, given the uncertainty of whether he would have both the authority and the means to do so, it’s likely (a) that Drumpf doesn’t actually have any settled intention to deport those millions and (b) that he doesn’t really care whether or not what he says is true. He most likely made that pronouncement merely in order to create certain expectations and impressions in the minds of his listeners. He wanted people to think of him as a person who would settle upon and carry out intentions like the one he declared to be his.

On the one hand, Drumpf makes false assertions, which he surely knows, or knows he could easily ascertain, to be false. On the other hand, he makes statements of whose truth he is uncertain—and he is indifferent to the fact that he doesn’t actually regard them as true. In the first case, he is telling a lie. In the second case, it’s bullshit.

Drumpf freely offers extravagant claims about his own talents and accomplishments. He maintains, for example, that he has the greatest memory in the world. This is farcically unalloyed bullshit. He has also made deceptive claims concerning his business experience. Some of these probably include ingredients both of bullshit and of lies. But his characterization of himself as an extraordinarily successful busi­nessman is, in any event, open to question. Thus, his biographer, Michael d’Antonio, makes the following comment: “He tried to run an airline and failed at that. He tried to run casinos and failed four times. That’s not evidence of brilliance when it comes to operating a complex business.”

It is disturbing to find an important political figure who indulges freely both in lies and in bullshit. What is perhaps even more deeply disturbing is to discover an important segment of our population responding to so incorrigibly dishonest a person with such pervasively enthusiastic acceptance.

I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Drumpf. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people’s.

In research beginning in the mid-1990s, when I was a professor at the University of Virginia, my colleagues and I asked 77 college students and 70 people from the nearby community to keep diaries of all the lies they told every day for a week. They handed them in to us with no names attached. We calculated participants’ rates of lying and categorized each lie as either self-serving (told to advantage the liar or protect the liar from embarrassment, blame or other undesired outcomes) or kind (told to advantage, flatter or protect someone else).

At The Washington Post, the Fact Checker feature has been tracking every false and misleading claim and flip-flop made by President Drumpf this year. The inclusion of misleading statements and flip-flops is consistent with the definition of lying my colleagues and I gave to our participants: “A lie occurs any time you intentionally try to mislead someone.” In the case of Drumpf’s claims, though, it is possible to ascertain only whether they were false or misleading, and not what the president’s intentions were. (And while the subjects of my research self-reported how often they lied, Drumpf’s falsehoods were tallied by The Post.)

I categorized the most recent 400 lies that The Post had documented through mid-November in the same way my colleagues and I had categorized the lies of the participants in our study.

The college students in our research told an average of two lies a day, and the community members told one. A more recent study of the lies 1,000 U. S. adults told in the previous 24 hours found that people told an average of 1.65 lies per day; the authors noted that 60 percent of the participants said they told no lies at all, while the top 5 percent of liars told nearly half of all the falsehoods in the study.

In Drumpf’s first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post’s tally. That’s about six per day, far higher than the average rate in our studies. And of course, reporters have access to only a subset of Drumpf’s false statements — the ones he makes publicly — so unless he never stretches the truth in private, his actual rate of lying is almost certainly higher... (continues)

An Effective Strategy for Skeptics to Fight Fake News and Post-Truth Politics

How do we get politicians to stop lying? How do we get private citizens to stop sharing fake news on social media? Deception proved such a successful strategy for political causes and individual candidates in the UK and US elections in 2016 that the Oxford English Dictionary named post-truth as its word of the year, with the definition of “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The extensive sharing of fake news by private citizens led Collins Dictionary to choose “fake news” as its word of the year for 2017, meaning “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.” (continues)
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

baggini’s consolations for a post-truth world

Interview by Hugh D. Reynolds.
One of the problems we face is not the absence of truth, but its overabundance.’
Julian Baggini has done more than most to drag philosophy out into the public domain. Working beyond the academy, he engages audiences other thinkers find hard to reach. Having trained in the analytic tradition (with a PhD in the philosophy of personal identity), he co-founded The Philosophers’ Magazine, and has since become one of Britain’s leading public intellectuals. His books’ subtitles suggest how he delivers serious ideas to the general reader: What Does it Mean to be You? A Rational Skeptic in an Irrational WorldThe Ultimate Philosophy Quiz Book. A Journey into the English MindThe Possibility of Free WillHow to Eat and ThinkPhilosophy Behind the HeadlinesFrom Minor Moans to Principled Protests… The subtitle of his latest work A Short History of Truth(Quercus 2017) promises Consolations for a Post-Truth World. But to what extent can philosophy save us from false news? And should it carry some of the blame for maneuvering us into this fine mess in the first place? In this candid interview, he discusses varieties of truth, changing intellectual attitudes (including his own) and how careful attention – rather than argument – may be what really matters in philosophy.
3:AM: A Short History of Truth, should help us endure the apparent crisis of truth. You write: ‘If there is a crisis of truth in the world today, the root of the problem is not the inadequacy of philosophical theories of truth.’ Yet, you suggest philosophers aren’t entirely blameless in that crisis, how so?
JB: To a certain extent all philosophers have been involved in a systematic questioning that undermines confidence and certainty. Philosophy as a whole unleashed skeptical forces which, outside of the tightly controlled environment of a rigorous philosophical debate, led a lot of people to throw their hands up in despair and think ‘what’s the point?’. A lot of the public perception of philosophy is that it leaves you with no answers, and more confused than you were at the beginning.
More specifically, there have been a number of philosophers – perhaps more in continental Europe than in Britain – who have reveled in the dismantling of truth. I think they did so with good ethical motives, and for good philosophical reasons. I can see the sense in what they were talking about; the idea that, as a matter of fact, truth is often claimed by elites in order to further certain agendas. They crowd-out alternative perspectives – particularly those of the powerless. But the undermining of truth contributed – in the weird, indirect way that philosophy contributes to the culture – to a rejection of the idea of truth as having any kind of proper meaning at all.
I think a lot of these people, Foucault for instance, would have been horrified that Drumpf has emerged as a person taking advantage of this skepticism. But that is what happened. It’s a wake-up call... (continues)
Rendering reality irrelevant?
This morning, after the news broke that NBC News has fired veteran anchor Matt Lauer for inappropriate sexual behavior, President Drumpf mused that NBC executives should be fired for putting out “Fake News,” and unleashed this broadside: “Check out Andy Lack’s past!”
This call for a look into vague allegations against NBC News’ chairman prompted some to marvel at how “brazen” Drumpf is being, given the sexual charges leveled at him, too. Similar surprise greeted Drumpf’s willingness to endorse Roy Moore while shrugging that Moore “totally denies” the believable charges against him, as that reminded everyone just how lacking in credibility were his own dismissals of so many equally believable accounts about himself.
But such incredulity misses the deeper significance of this stuff. The brazenness of it is the whole point — his utter shamelessness itself is meant to achieve his goal. In any given case, Drumpf is not trying to persuade anyone of anything as much as he is trying to render reality irrelevant, and reduce the pursuit of agreement on it to just another part of the circus. He’s asserting a species of power — the power to evade constraints normally imposed by empirically verifiable facts, by expectations of consistency, and even by what reasoned inquiry deems merely credible. The more brazen or shameless, the more potent is the assertion of power... (continues)
I don’t suppose the question of truth came up ... that would be too much to hope for.

*Week Two Quiz/Apr 19

1. To what popular TV show does Gopnik's title allude?

2. How is Norm's affection for beer illustrative of his name's implication in this essay?

3. Why are norms normative?

4. What are the three elements of social games?

5. What would Monopoly be without norms?

6. When you google “Trump” and “norms” you find what?

7. What is truth-telling in our political culture, if not simply a norm?

8. Why do we take "Cliffs" for granted? Why aren't they codified or stated explicitly? Why do they matter?

9. What is Gopnik's objection to "norms" talk?

10. Why was the Soviet constitution a mockery?

11. What's the point of democratic government, and how does it relate to the unwritten status of our "rules"?

12. Why doesn't Gopnik think the Trump administration's style of governance (via tweets and altered "tone" etc.) represents "a mere violation of decorum"?

13. What did Frankfurt find alternately easy and difficult in candidate Trump's public assertions?

14. What makes it unclear to Frankfurt whether the president's statements about (for example) healthcare are lies or BS?

15. What does Frankfurt find "more disturbing than an important political figure who indulges freely both in lies and in bullshit"?

16. What centuries-old movement in philosophy and modern life do the editors of Bullshit and Philosophy say Frankfurt represents?

17. What particular scholarly focus piqued G.A. Cohen's interest in bullshit?

18. What would John Adams likely say about our relation to facts and evidence, as noted by Kurt Andersen?

19. What "initial devotion" has led us to our present situation with respect to dishonest public discourse, according to Andersen?

20. To what kind of thinking have Americans given themselves over, in Andersen's view?

21. Who said, over two decades ago, that "Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused... or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us," superstition and unreason abound?

22. Who says "denialism" is a war on progress?

23. To abandon facts is to abandon _____, says a historian quoted in One Nation After Trump.

24. Who does Ta-Nehisi Coates say are especially liable to BS?

  • Will you take the Pro-Truth Pledge?*
  • Do we want to discuss the flurry of sexual misconduct allegations and peremptory dismissals? Is truth being cheated, by dispensing "instant justice" in advance of any careful inquiry into all the facts? Or is Rough Justice required to rectify long-overdue attention to all the ways some powerful men have exploited and demeaned women?   
  • Do you share Gopnik's sitcom opinion re: "the best television comedy between The Honeymooners and Seinfeld”? Why (not)?
  • Are social conventions more necessary and useful, or habitual and stultifying?
  • Is social life in fact a game (see Ludwig Wittgenstein...)? Or does this metaphor distort the seriousness of our conventions etc.?
  • Suggest your DQs, pertaining to this essay, to the Frankfurt Time essay, and to any other material posted or referenced here
  • What norms enliven your favorite games?
  • People often glibly say that all politicians lie, cheat, etc. Is truth-telling even a norm in our tradition?
  • Must we now be much more explicit and detailed as to the values  premises and principles that all participants in our political life must be expected to adhere to, for the benefit of both candidates and voters? Must all responsible voters to be "values voters" now?
  • How does a society successfully inculcate respect for truth and core democratic values in its citizenry?
  • Are social media like Twitter an inappropriate platform for presidential communication in general, or can they be used responsibly and with respect for democratic institutions and values?
  • Have you been deceived by any of the President's public statements? Or do you also find it easy to tell which of his statements are unworthy of belief? How does it feel to live in a country whose chief executive is so reliably dishonest? Should dishonesty per se be considered an impeachable offense (except insofar as it can be plausibly defended in terms of national security)?
  • COMMENT: “If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.” Carl Sagan
  • Is failure to act on one's convictions a form of BS, of exhibiting indifference towards what one acknowledges as true? (See Anthony Doerr's "We Were Warned," below)
  • Do you agree that Sarah Sanders doesn’t draw nearly the censure or ridicule that her predecessor Sean Spicer did? Why might that be so? Are we getting inured to BS?

Image result for cheers norm and cliff

Norms and Cliffs in Trump's America

Suddenly , all we hear about is “norms”—norms are here, norms are there, norms are everywhere: norms violated, norms overthrown, norms thrown back in the faces of their normalcy. Not since ander“Cheers” went off the air, back in the nineties, have we heard so much about Norms. “Cheers”—surely the best television comedy between “The Honeymooners” and “Seinfeld”—featured, you may recall, its own Norm, the saturnine barfly played by George Wendt, a good example of a man whose life consisted of nothing but norms. Putting a beer out for Norm was a norm of the bar: you did it because it was expected, though not written down anywhere. (“Beer? Have I become that predictable?” Norm occasionally asked, in feigned surprise.) An outsider once arrived at the bar and took his stool. “What do you do?” he politely asked an obviously enraged Norm. “Do? I sit there!” was the answer. These were Norm’s norms.

Norms are social conventions; they’re normative because they’re useful, and they’re not codified because they don’t have to be. One might say that every social game in which we participate has three elements: premises, rules, and norms. The premises state the concept; the rules regiment the play; and the norms inflect the action. Life is full of norms. A norm is a barstool reserved for a habitué. A norm is the rule that you tip the bartender when his shift ends even if you are carrying over the tab. In Monopoly, the rules are written down, but it would be a dull game indeed if it were not played with norms that have developed over time—putting fine money on “Free Parking,” say, or getting double one’s salary for landing directly on “Go.” It may be a dull game anyway—as countless families are now remembering, on rainy days in summer cabins—but it would be a lifeless game without evolved and unwritten norms.

Donald Trump and his minions have been engaged, we are told, every day, in violations of what are being called norms—the expectation, say, that the President will not engage in an open war with his own Attorney General, or make reckless accusations of illegality on the part of former Presidents. Google “Trump” and “norms,” and you find a huge, alarmed journalistic literature, enumerating the norms of political discourse that Trump has overturned that week or day—but those same pieces will also, more often than not, point out that, after all, overturning norms is what he was elected to do. When people accuse Trump of violating norms, there is a near immediate concession that they are, after all, only norms. One man’s favorite barstool is the next man’s barrier to bar-service entry. Emily Bazelon, writing in the Times Magazine, summed up the problem this way: “Though some of our core democratic values are wrapped up in norms, it’s still easy to ask: If no laws have been broken, what’s the problem?” Bazelon (who, it should be noted, is well aware that these questions are hard ones) observed that it was “natural enough for his supporters to dismiss talk of ‘norms’ as the useless hand-wringing of a worse-than-useless establishment.”

But respecting the rule of law is not a norm. Telling the truth about matters of state—or apologizing when you haven’t been able to tell it—are not “norms.” They are premises. They aren’t enumerated or listed in advance in a legal document, not because they’re merely conventional but because they make all the other conventions possible. They’re not the way we wear our hats; they’re the ground beneath our feet. Call them—well, call them Cliffs, after Norm’s beloved mailman drinking partner, inasmuch as we fall right off the moral mountain to our obliteration without them. We take them for granted because without them there would be no way of standing up at all. We don’t list them not because they are mere manners and conventions but because they are the unstated absolutes that let everything else go on.

Nowhere on the Monopoly box does it say, “It is forbidden for the players to use guns to force a trade.” It doesn’t have to; sitting down to play Monopoly implies that you have already understood that. The Constitution does not say, in its preamble, “it is important to respect laws,” because it assumes that no one would, or could, seek power who did not share that assumption. Standing up to play the game of government implies good faith in it. Values and premises and principles are not codified because if you had to codify them you couldn’t have a code at all.

This difference is neither merely verbal nor philosophical; it is vital. For deflecting the discourse into one about norms, when we are really talking about premises and principles, is one more way of, well, normalizing Trump’s assault on democratic government. It turns what is really subversion into mere behavior. It’s one form of the frightened levelling-off that Trump has intimidated too many pundits and reporters into accepting. Every totalitarian country has a constitution—the Soviet constitution was a mockery not because its “norms” were not respected but because the ruling party had complete contempt for the premises it was based on. What mattered were not the norms of its enforcement but the social compact that was understood to underlie it and the mutual respect people showed for it. That Trump’s hard-core followers delight in his transgressions—even if such followers were a majority, which they are not—does not make them normative. It is exactly the point of a democratic government to say that, though norms may change, the premises aren’t directly or easily subject to a majority vote, even by the gleefully vengeful. Some of the rules are unwritten because if you had to write them down it would be an admission that there were people not ready to play.

So let us hear no more of norms. Do not let anyone convince you that Trump’s evils are matters of performance or personality or affect—that they can be overlooked, or that there is a mere violation of decorum underway. For that is exactly how tyrants have always engaged in the moral degradation of their followers. “I just have to look past the tweets” or “He has a problem with his tone” is the new moral equivalent of “Well, the trains run on time,” or, “At least the emperor has built a lot of marble temples.” Norms come and go, no matter how hardily they stick to their bar stools. The principles and premises of social contracts, which make both bars and republics possible, don’tNew Yorker

Image result for make donald drumpf again john oliver
[NOTE: In an impulsive moment last year I added a widget to my computer that automatically changes every iteration of  "*rump" to "Drumpf" - Cousin John Oliver had just launched his "Make Donald Drumpf Again" campaign - and now I don't know how to remove it. I've gotten used to it, but I apologize if you find it annoying. -jpo]
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire - a 500-Year History, by Kurt Andersen 

"When John Adams said in the 1700s that “facts are stubborn things," the overriding American principle of personal freedom was not yet enshrined in the Declaration or the Constitution, and the United States of America was itself still a dream. Two and a half centuries later the nation Adams cofounded has become a majority-rule de facto refutation of his truism: "our wishes, our inclinations" and 'the dictates of our passions' now apparently do 'alter the state of facts and
evidence,' because extrteme cognitive liberty and the pursuit of happiness rule."

“...mix epic individualism with extreme religion; mix show business with everything else; let all that steep and simmer for a few centuries; run it through the anything-goes 1960s and the Internet age; the result is the America we inhabit today, where reality and fantasy are weirdly and dangerously blurred and commingled.”

...As [Andersen] he explains in what must have been an alarmingly self-confirming last chapter: Donald Drumpf is “stupendous Exhibit A” in the landscape of “Fantasyland,” a fitting leader for a nation that has, over the centuries, nurtured a “promiscuous devotion to the untrue.”

Fake news. Post-truth. Alternative facts. For Andersen, these are not momentary perversions but habits baked into our DNA, the ultimate expressions of attitudes “that have made America exceptional for its entire history.” The country’s initial devotion to religious and intellectual freedom, Andersen argues, has over the centuries morphed into a fierce entitlement to custom-made reality. So your right to believe in angels and your neighbor’s right to believe in U.F.O.s and Rachel Dolezal’s right to believe she is black lead naturally to our president’s right to insist that his crowds were bigger... Hanna Rosin, continues
...Andersen’s theory is that we’ve become a nation in which “opinions and feelings are the same as facts.” In “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire,” his extremely well-timed history of hucksterism, credulousness and questionable beliefs, he demonstrates why this is such a troubling state of affairs.

Given this new era of ours, as we spend inordinate amounts of time talking and reading about the erratic man who lives in the White House, it feels important to establish up front that this exhaustively researched book isn’t really about the president. Sure, Andersen devotes most of the last chapter to Drumpf... but on the whole he's far more interested in exploring why so many Americans are willing to believe almost anything — and how this affects all of us. According to recent surveys by legitimate polling companies, half the country doesn’t believe in man-made climate change, and 1 in 4 is open to the idea that Barack Obama is the antichrist. Twenty percent suspect that 9/11 was an inside job.

“Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the last half-century,” Andersen writes, “Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation, small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us...” Kevin Canfield, continues
A razor-sharp thinker offers a new understanding of our post-truth world and explains the American instinct to believe in make-believe, from the Pilgrims to P. T. Barnum to Disneyland to zealots of every stripe...to Donald Trump.
In this sweeping, eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen demonstrates that what's happening in our country today - this strange, post-factual, "fake news" moment we're all living through - is not something entirely new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character and path. America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, and true believers, by impresarios and their audiences, by hucksters and their suckers. Believe-whatever-you-want fantasy is deeply embedded in our DNA.
Over the course of five centuries - from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the anything-goes, wild-and-crazy 60s, from conspiracy theories to our fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials - our peculiar love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we've never fully acknowledged. With the gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in liberty has gone off the rails.
From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams and epic fantasies - every citizen was free to believe absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. Little by little, and then more quickly in the last several decades, the American invent-your-own-reality legacy of the Enlightenment superseded its more sober, rational, and empirical parts. We gave ourselves over to all manner of crackpot ideas and make-believe lifestyles designed to console or thrill or terrify us. In Fantasyland, Andersen brilliantly connects the dots that define this condition, portrays its scale and scope, and offers a fresh, bracing explanation of how our American journey has deposited us here.
Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand the politics and culture of 21st-century America, if you want to know how the lines between reality and illusion have become dangerously blurred, you must listen to this book. amazon
Carl Sagan, writing prophetically decades ago:

Carl Sagan's Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark... 

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark“But I try not to think with my gut. If I'm serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.” 

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” 

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” 

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” 

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

“Books, purchasable at low cost, permit us to interrogate the past with high accuracy; to tap the wisdom of our species; to understand the point of view of others, and not just those in power; to contemplate--with the best teachers--the insights, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history. They allow people long dead to talk inside our heads. Books can accompany us everywhere. Books are patient where we are slow to understand, allow us to go over the hard parts as many times as we wish, and are never critical of our lapses. Books are key to understanding the world and participating in a democratic society.” 

If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.” 

“We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.” 

“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us - then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.

The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.” 

The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking
Necessary cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood... brainpickings, continues


Lindsay Beyerstein: On Bullshit: Harry Frankfurt, Donald Drumpf, and Indifference to Truth
Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning journalist living in New York, whose work has appeared in outlets such as Slate, Salon, Newsweek, Al Jazeera America, The Wall Street Journal, and dozens of others. She is also the one of the hosts of the Center For Inquiry’s flagship podcast, Point of Inquiry (pointofinquiry.org). In this presentation, delivered on April 22, 2016 at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY, Beyerstein explores how GOP presidential nominee Donald Drumpf’s success reflects our post-factual political era, and what we can do to resist the deluge of misinformation. Beyerstein explores Drumpf’s relationship with the truth through the lens of philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s classic paper “On Bullshit,” in which he argues that the hallmark of bullshit is an indifference to the truth. A liar knows the truth and takes pains to misrepresent it convincingly, but a bullshitter casually mixes fact and fiction because, for him, the truth is beside the point. Beyerstein explains that Drumpf is the epitome of a Frankfurtian bullshitter, in that his rhetoric is crafted purely to impress his audience in the moment.
Beyond Bullshit: Donald Drumpf’s Philosophy of Language
...Drumpf wasn’t communicating with his audience so much as talking at them. His speech was governed by what we might call the Anti-Cooperative Principle:
Make your conversational contribution seem such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged, even though it’s not.
That’s beyond bullshit. Philosophy Now
Donald Drumpf Is Not a Liar - He's something worse: a bullshit artist. New Republic
As the Republican candidate for president in 2016, Donald J. Drumpf has accomplished many things. He engaged in rhetorical tactics unprecedented in recent American electoral history. He was straightforwardly misogynistic. He repeatedly endorsed obviously false claims. There were frequent open discussions of the intentions behind his many odd comments, retractions, semi-retractions and outright false statements.

On a certain level, the media lacked the vocabulary to describe what was happening. Drumpf was denounced repeatedly for “lying” and at times the apparently more egregious “bald faced lying.” But that is not a sufficient description. Neither was the charge by the philosopher Harry Frankfurt that Drumpf was in fact a master of “bullshit,” which is distinct from lying in that the speaker is not just communicating information he knows to be false, but is unconstrained by any consideration of what may or may not be true. While this description is technically true, it is at best terribly misleading. This presidential campaign has revealed that our academic and media class has insufficiently grappled with the problem of mass communication... Jason Stanley, "Beyond Lying," continues

*Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives In Denialism, New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter reveals that Americans have come to mistrust institutions and especially the institution of science more today than ever before. For centuries, the general view had been that science is neither good nor bad—that it merely supplies information and that new information is always beneficial. Now, science is viewed as a political constituency that isn’t always in our best interest. We live in a world where the leaders of African nations prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains. Childhood vaccines have proven to be the most effective public health measure in history, yet people march on Washington to protest their use. In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and “natural” cures have almost no value, and often cause harm. We still spend billions of dollars on them. In hundreds of the best universities in the world, laboratories are anonymous, unmarked, and surrounded by platoons of security guards—such is the opposition to any research that includes experiments with animals. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed.

As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress. The issues may be complex but the choices are not: Are we going to continue to embrace new technologies, along with acknowledging their limitations and threats, or are we ready to slink back into an era of magical thinking? In Denialism, Specter makes an argument for a new Enlightenment, the revival of an approach to the physical world that was stunningly effective for hundreds of years: What can be understood and reliably repeated by experiment is what nature regarded as true. Now, at the time of mankind’s greatest scientific advances—and our greatest need for them—that deal must be renewed. amazon
David Remnick Moderates a Panel on Drumpf’s First Hundred Days
At the Public Theatre, Remnick spoke with journalists—including the Huffington Post’s Lydia Polgreen and the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold—about covering the President...
Hillary Clinton and David Remnick Discuss “What Happened”
Hillary Clinton has no doubt that allies of Donald Drumpf colluded with Russia and WikiLeaks to derail her election...

On "On Bullshit" by Harry Frankfurt

Petter Naessan examines Harry Frankfurt’s famous little book On Bullshit.

Harry Frankfurt, a moral philosopher, starts this little book with the following observation: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” He then proceeds to develop a theoretical understanding of bullshit – what it is, and what it is not.
Aspects of the bullshit problem are discussed partly with reference to the Oxford English Dictionary, Wittgenstein and Saint Augustine. Three points seem especially important – the distinction between lying and bullshitting, the question of why there is so much bullshit in the current day and age, and a critique of sincerity qua bullshit.
Frankfurt makes an important distinction between lying and bullshitting. Both the liar and the bullshitter try to get away with something. But ‘lying’ is perceived to be a conscious act of deception, whereas ‘bullshitting’ is unconnected to a concern for truth. Frankfurt regards this ‘indifference to how things really are’, as the essence of bullshit. Furthermore, a lie is necessarily false, but bullshit is not – bullshit may happen to be correct or incorrect. The crux of the matter is that bullshitters hide their lack of commitment to truth. Since bullshitters ignore truth instead of acknowledging and subverting it, bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies.
Having established the grave danger of bullshit, Frankfurt’s next step is to ask why there is so much bullshit around. The main answer to this is that bullshit is unavoidable when people are convinced that they must have opinions about “events and conditions in all parts of the world”, about more or less anything and everything – so they speak quite extensively about things they know virtually nothing about. Frankfurt is non-committal as to whether there is more bullshit around now than before, but he maintains that there is currently a great deal.
There is an interesting problem sketched at the end of the book, wherein sincerity is described as an ideal for those who do not believe that there is any (objective) truth, thus departing from the ideal of correctness. Now, Frankfurt does not mention the word ‘postmodern’ at all in his book (which is a good thing, I think), but to some extent the last pages may be understood to be a critical punch on a postmodern rejection of the ideal of the truth. Be this as it may, when a person rejects the notion of being true to the facts and turns instead to an ideal of being true to their own substantial and determinate nature, then according to Frankfurt this sincerity is bullshit.
Bullshit seems to be defined largely negatively, that is, as not lying. Frankfurt’s discussion – which he admits is not likely to be decisive – reveals that there is nothing really distinctive about bullshit when it comes to either the form or meaning of utterances. It is predominantly about the intention and disregard for truth of the bullshitter. How then do we discern bullshit from other types of speech behaviour? Is it really possible to accurately know the values (or lack thereof) involved when a person speaks?
Probably not. One may have some intuition that certain utterances constitute bullshit. Frankfurt does not provide any answers here, but one could perhaps suggest that the ‘cooperative principle’ of H.P. Grice (1913-1988) might provide some further food for thought within the emerging field of bullshitology (as I would like to call the scientific study of bullshit). Grice, in his 1975 book Logic and Conversation, outlined a number of underlying principles (‘maxims’) that are assumed by people engaged in conversation. Speakers and listeners assume that the others abide by certain, predominantly unstated, speech norms. The cooperative principle can be divided more specifically into the maxims of quantity, quality, relevance, and manner. For bullshitological purposes, the violation of the maxims would appear to be relevant. So if utterances convey not enough or too much information (quantity), are intentionally false or lack evidence (quality), are irrelevant to any current topic or issue (relevance), and are obscure, ambiguous, unnecessarily wordy or disorderly (manner), they would seem to qualify, although not necessarily, as bullshit (minus the intentionally false utterance, of course). These elements may be added to the condition of the bullshitter’s indifference to the ideal of truth. Then again, can we be certain that to identify utterances as bullshit in any given situation necessarily is connected to an understanding of the bullshitter’s indifference to the truth?
Needless to say, there are numerous problems which may be expanded, looked into and analysed concerning bullshit. And I dare say that Frankfurt’s little book is a nice starting point.
© Petter A. Naessan 2005
Petter Naessan is a PhD student in linguistics at the University of Adelaide.
Philosophy Now
The sequel: On Truth - 
"Not very long ago, I published an essay on bullshit, entitled On Bullshit...
“To establish and to sustain an advanced culture, we need to avoid being debilitated either by error or by ignorance. We need to know—and, of course, we must also understand how to make productive use of—a great many truths.”

“Civilizations... cannot flourish if they are beset with troublesome infections of mistaken beliefs.”

“We cannot think of ourselves as creatures whose rationality endows us with an especially significant advantage over others—indeed, we cannot think of ourselves as rational creatures at all—unless we think of ourselves as creatures who recognize that facts, and true statements about the facts, are indispensable in providing us with reasons for believing (or for not believing) various things and for taking (or for not taking) various actions. If we have no respect for the distinction between true and false, we may as well kiss our much-vaunted “rationality” good-bye.”

Drumpf's Lies vs. Obama's

(nyt) After we published a list of President Drumpf’s lies this summer, we heard a common response from his supporters. They said, in effect: Yes, but if you made a similar list for previous presidents, it would be just as bad.

We’ve set out to make that list. Here, you will find our attempt at a comprehensive catalog of the falsehoods that Barack Obama told while he was president. (We also discuss George W. Bush below, although the lack of real-time fact-checking during his presidency made a comprehensive list impossible.)

We applied the same conservative standard to Obama and Drumpf, counting only demonstrably and substantially false statements. The result: Drumpf is unlike any other modern president. He seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he’s trying to make.

In his first 10 months in office, he has told 103 separate untruths, many of them repeatedly. Obama told 18 over his entire eight-year tenure. That’s an average of about two a year for Obama and about 124 a year for Drumpf.(continues)

One Nation After Drumpf: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, Thomas E. Mann
...in his powerful book On Tyranny, the historian Timothy Snyder offered 20 lessons that twentieth-century history had to teach us in the Trump era. Lesson 10 was at once basic and essential: “Believe in truth.” “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power. You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case."
From the Reason and Meaning blog -

Harry Frankfurt on Bullshit And Lying
January 23, 2017 Truth

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, February 6, 2017.)

Emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton Harry Frankfurt‘s book, On Bullshit, was a surprise best seller a few years ago. Given the public musings of our recently installed President, I thought it time to revisit the main idea of the book.

Frankfurt begins by jumping right in: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” This is a truism, but it provides small comfort to those of us who listen to so much of what is said by politicians, generals, clergy, and uninformed citizens. No pain is too severe for them to inflict on those of us with relatively well-ordered minds.

But what is bullshitting and in what ways it is similar to, and different from, lying? Here are the basics as Frankfurt sees them:

Main Similarities –
1) Both liars and bullshitters (bsers) want you to believe that they are telling the truth.

2) And both want to get away with something.

Major Differences
Liars –
1) Liars engage in a conscious act of deception.

2) Liars know the truth, but attempt to hide it.

3) Liars spread untruths, but they still accept the distinction between the truth and false.
(Reason and Meaning, continues)
How the Internet Fuels Paranoid Thinking - Today’s conspiracies have taken on the contours of the online world. Amanda Hess,  nyt
Donald Drumpf says a lot of things that aren’t true, often shamelessly so, and it’s tempting to call him a liar.

But that’s not quite right. As the Princeton University philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt put it in a famous essay, to lie presumes a kind of awareness of and interest in the truth — and the goal is to convince the audience that the false thing you are saying is in fact true. Drumpf, more often than not, isn’t interested in convincing anyone of anything. He’s a bullshitter who simply doesn’t care... The Bullshitter-in-Chief, continues
One of world’s most prominent Scrabble players banned temporarily for cheating http://wapo.st/2hs8hMm
Trump’s bizarre claim that Obama ‘never got to land’ in the Philippines
The Great Swindle-fake ideas and fake emotions have elbowed out truth and beauty, by Roger Scruton
A high culture is the self-consciousness of a society. It contains the works of art, literature, scholarship and philosophy that establish a shared frame of reference among educated people. High culture is a precarious achievement, and endures only if it is underpinned by a sense of tradition, and by a broad endorsement of the surrounding social norms. When those things evaporate, as inevitably happens, high culture is superseded by a culture of fakes.

Faking depends on a measure of complicity between the perpetrator and the victim, who together conspire to believe what they don’t believe and to feel what they are incapable of feeling. There are fake beliefs, fake opinions, fake kinds of expertise. There is also fake emotion, which comes about when people debase the forms and the language in which true feeling can take root, so that they are no longer fully aware of the difference between the true and the false. Kitsch is one very important example of this. The kitsch work of art is not a response to the real world, but a fabrication designed to replace it. Yet both producer and consumer conspire to persuade each other that what they feel in and through the kitsch work of art is something deep, important and real.

Anyone can lie. One need only have the requisite intention — in other words, to say something with the intention to deceive. Faking, by contrast, is an achievement. To fake things you have to take people in, yourself included. In an important sense, therefore, faking is not something that can be intended, even though it comes about through intentional actions. The liar can pretend to be shocked when his lies are exposed, but his pretence is merely a continuation of his lying strategy. The fake really is shocked when he is exposed, since he had created around himself a community of trust, of which he himself was a member. Understanding this phenomenon is, it seems to me, integral to understanding how a high culture works, and how it can become corrupted. (continues)
We Were Warned, by Anthony Doerr - on BS by omission...

Twenty-five years ago this month, more than 1,500 prominent scientists, including over half of the living Nobel laureates, issued a manifesto titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in which they admonished, “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

They cited stresses on the planet’s atmosphere, forests, oceans and soils, and called on everybody to act decisively. “No more than one or a few decades remain,” the scientists wrote, “before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost.”

I was 19 years old when their warning was published and though I understood, in a teenager-y, “Rainforest Rap” sort of way, that humans were messing with the planet, the document freaked me out. It was so urgent, so dire. E. O. Wilson had signed it. Carl Sagan had signed it!

So did I act immediately and decisively? Um, I did not. In the ensuing years I wrote checks to some conservation organizations, replaced some incandescent bulbs and rode my bike to work. I hammered together a composting bin that promptly fell apart. I gave a self-important lecture to a neighbor on the importance of using his recycling can.

I also hurtled through the troposphere on hundreds of airplanes (each round trip from New York to London costs the Arctic another three square meters of ice), bought and sold multiple automobiles and helped my wife put two more Americans onto the planet. Our air-conditioning compressor is at least a decade old, my truck averages 15 miles to the gallon and I routinely walk up to a podium, open a brand new plastic bottle of water, take a sip and promptly forget that it exists... (continues)
Studying Fake News About Voltaire, Spread by Voltaire Himself - A professor says that the 18th-century French satirist lied about his date of birth not to hide a scandal, but to create one.
The BS of public intellectuals - Ta-Nehisi Coates, on On Being: "Imagining a New America" 
“I’m 17 years old, and my generation does not know how to deal with the older generation’s stubbornness and unwillingness to change even though they are in power. What advice do you have?”
Mr. Coates: OK, I’m gonna talk about what I don’t know. And listen, here’s the thing that happens. Here’s the thing that happens. You are well-researched and knowledgeable about one thing that you’ve been thinking about a long time and you’ve been reading about a long time. That does not make you well-researched and knowledgeable about all things. These are — for instance, that question right there. There are people, activists who spend their lives grappling with that and have spent their lives grappling. I’m a writer. I prefer solitude; I prefer to be alone. I prefer some distance from struggle. I like that. That’s my joy. That’s my life experience.

It would be — because I think there’s this tradition: I get this title, “public intellectual,” and I don’t like it, because what it sounds to me is like people who B.S. They’re smart about one thing, and so they play into this notion that they’re smart about everything else. I have not struggled with that at all.


I just — I haven’t. I haven’t, and so for me to answer would be to pretend as though I had. If you want to ask me about writing, I can — up one side, down the other. I got you. I’m with you, because I’ve struggled with that. I was thinking about it on the plane today. That’s just — I can’t address things that are not things that I’ve actually struggled with. I’m sorry. I really apologize. Is there — are there two more, or something?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Frank Bruni NOV. 3, 2017

It hit me this week, around the time when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was blithely seconding Chief of Staff John Kelly’s Civil War revisionism, that I missed Sean Spicer.

I missed the panic in his eyes, which signaled a scintilla of awareness that he was peddling hooey. I missed the squeak in his voice, which suggested perhaps the tiniest smidgen of shame.

He never seemed to me entirely at home in his domicile of deception; she dwells without evident compunction in a gaudier fairyland of grander fictions. There’s no panic. No squeak. Just that repulsed expression, as if a foul odor had wafted in and she knew — just knew — that the culprit was CNN.

True, she hasn’t told a lie as tidy as Spicer’s ludicrousness about Donald Drumpf’s inauguration crowds. But her briefings are breathtaking — certainly this week’s were. For some 20 minutes every afternoon, down is up, paralysis is progress, enmity is harmony, stupid is smart, villain is victim, disgrace is honor, plutocracy is populism and Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia if anyone would summon the nerve to investigate her (because, you know, that never, ever happens). I watch and listen with sheer awe.

With despair, too, because Sanders doesn’t draw nearly the censure or ridicule that Spicer did, and the reason isn’t her. It’s us. More precisely, it’s what Drumpf and his presidency have done to us. Little more than nine months in, we’ve surrendered any expectation of honesty. We’re inured
... (continues)
Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior)
This is very dangerous, Google. (For those just hearing about Texas shooter, assertions catalogued here are inflammatory and false.) twitter.com/justinhendrix/…
...[Aristotle] is the star, by the way, of a new musical tour de force based on his Poetics and Rhetoric, "addressing language’s power to influence others, for good or evil" and wondering “How can we persuade if the subject is complex and, as is so often the case, our listeners incapable of following a long chain of reasoning?” And, if they don't really value the truth as much as he does?

Aristotle, dubbed by Dante "master of those who know," loved Plato but he loved truth more. "All men by nature desire to know." I don't know about that. In our time we're seeing strong confirmation for the proposition that all desire to assert what they believe as if they knew it, or as if knowledge just meant firm conviction and not justified true belief. If we all had a natural instinct for truth we'd have a lot less talk about alt-facts. The reality-based community would feel a lot more secure and facts would change our minds. Summarizing the latest literature on confirmation ("my side") bias and irrationality Elizabeth Kolbert writes:
“As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding”... And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views. If we all now dismiss as unconvincing any information that contradicts our opinion, you get, well, the Drumpf Administration.
...Providing people with accurate information doesn’t seem to help; they simply discount it. Appealing to their emotions may work better, but doing so is obviously antithetical to the goal of promoting sound science...
“The Enigma of Reason,” “The Knowledge Illusion,” and “Denying to the Grave” were all written before the November election. And yet they anticipate Kellyanne Conway and the rise of “alternative facts.” These days, it can feel as if the entire country has been given over to a vast psychological experiment being run either by no one or by Steve Bannon. Rational agents would be able to think their way to a solution. But, on this matter, the literature is not reassuring.
 Aristotle may have been naive about all this, but knowing that we're prone to "knowing" things that just ain't so should reassure us that real knowledge is still a reasonable aspiration worth fighting for... U@d
Elizabeth Kolbert, Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds-New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason. “Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”
**MALA 6010-001 (CRN 86683)
Foundations of the Liberal Arts II: Cheating
Fall 2017
Thursday 6:00-9:00
COE 148
Dr. Leah Tolbert Lyons (Course Coordinator)
Office: Jones Hall 361
Office Phone: (615) 898-5778
E-mail: Leah.Lyons@mtsu.edu
OFFICE HOURS: Monday 11:00-2:00, Wednesday 12:00-2:00, and by appointment. Appointments are available on most days. Questions and issues may also be addressed via e-mail or phone call.
READINGS AND STUDY SOURCES: (Please see listing for each individual professor in the course schedule. Please note that other readings may be added later in the semester)
COURSE DESCRIPTIONCheating may be defined as winning an advantage over or depriving someone of something by using artful, unfair, deceitful, or cunning methods. One can cheat death, cheat at cards, cheat the system, cheat on a spouse. Is cheating necessarily negative? Is it merely a means to an end? This course will explore the notion of cheating from myriad perspectives in an attempt to better understand how it is perceived across social, historical, political, cultural, linguistic, generational, and other borders.
COURSE LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, students will:
 Gain an understanding of the foundation of Liberal Arts disciplines
 Increase content knowledge of the Liberal Arts disciplines
 Develop a greater appreciation of the interdisciplinary approach to learning
 Improve the ability to read and write critically and at an advanced level
 Recognize the methods of knowing in various disciplines
COURSE STRUCTURE: The course will begin with an introduction to the Liberal Arts and the M.A. in Liberal Arts program. The next 12 weeks will feature inspiring professors from 6 different departments who will discuss their approaches to the topic of “cheating” through their disciplines. Each individual professor will lead the class for two weeks and will assign readings and assignments. Through these exercises and discussions, you will have the opportunity to learn fascinating subject matter while using approaches from different disciplines. You will also work on your reading,oral, and written communication skills. At the end of the course, professors and students will engage in a round table session in which you will work to bring together what you have learned about “cheating” and different methods used to approach this topic during the semester.
ATTENDANCE: Regular attendance is essential, especially since this course only meets one day a week, and professors rotate every two weeks. If you must be absent, it is your responsibility to contact the coordinator and the professor for that date so that you may make up your work (this may involve extra readings and assignments). Please know that absences may affect the grade for an individual block.
GRADING: The grading for the course will be based upon a weighted percentage system with a minimum of 0% and a maximum of 100% as indicated below:
Each professor will give you assignments and participation grades which will make up 15% of your grade. With six professors, this will make up 90% of your final grade.
You will write a 5-page essay in conjunction with the round table. You will use the readings from the course as your sources. This will be 5% of your grade.
Participation in the round table will make up 3% of your grade.
You will also begin the process of composing an e-portfolio. This will be 2% of your grade.
Final grades will be based upon the total points earned as follows:
A 94-100 A- 90-93 B+ 87-89 B 84-86 B- 80-83 C+ 77-79
C 74-76 C- 70-73 D+ 67-69 D 64-66 D- 60-63 F 0-59
ETHICAL SCHOLARLY CONDUCT: Cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, and facilitation is unacceptable and will result in a grade of “0” for the assignment. For the purposes of this course, these terms are defined as follows:
Cheating: turning in work composed for other courses, copying the work of other students, using others’ work.
Plagiarism: copying the words of an author without proper notation and acknowledgement.
Fabrication: making up content and or sources.
Facilitation: getting unauthorized assistance from others to complete your work.
Violators may also be reported to the Assistant Dean for Judicial Affairs, without exception. Remember to start your papers early to avoid the temptation to resort to any of these offenses. If you have any difficulty with the material, please ask for help.
Please complete the Plagiarism Tutorial at the following site:
HYPERLINK "http://lib.usm.edu/plagiarism_tutorial.html" \o "Plagiarism Tutorial " http://lib.usm.edu/plagiarism_tutorial.html
ePORTFOLIO STATEMENTAs part of the MALA program, students should be building an ePortfolio showcasing their learning. Please upload a photo and a bio for your ePortfolio home page as soon as possible as a reference for your block instructors.
ACCOMMODATION FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Middle Tennessee State University is committed to campus access in accordance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Any student interested in reasonable accommodations can consult the Disability & Access Center (DAC) website  HYPERLINK "https://owa.mtsu.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=rfzT4x3DJUWTTfHd1VnLMrzDytJbj9EI7HDjUNKcIl6QlTl0TwfDHIVjEnvWQIr96ELTN7FlB8c.&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.mtsu.edu%2fdac" \t "_blank" www.mtsu.edu/dac and/or contact the DAC for assistance at 615-898-2783 or HYPERLINK "https://owa.mtsu.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=rfzT4x3DJUWTTfHd1VnLMrzDytJbj9EI7HDjUNKcIl6QlTl0TwfDHIVjEnvWQIr96ELTN7FlB8c.&URL=mailto%3adacemail%40mtsu.edu" \t "_blank" dacemail@mtsu.edu.
RESPECT AND ELECTRONICS: Please abide by a policy of mutual respect for your instructor and your fellow students. Cell phones or any other electronic devices should be silenced, and texting or e-mailing should not be done during class. Students are expected to focus on the course material and contribute in a positive manner.
August 31
Orientation and Introduction
Dr. Leah Tolbert Lyons
Block 1: September 7 and 14
Choreographic Cheating: The Slippery Slope from Quoting to Citing to Borrowing to Stealing
Ms. Margaret (Meg) Brooker (Theater and Dance)
Ms. Margaret Brooker photo
Bio: Meg Brooker, Assistant Professor, Middle Tennessee State University, is a steering committee member of the Isadora Duncan International Symposium and co-founder of the Duncan Dance Project. Meg’s national and international performance credits include major museums, galleries, gardens, and concert theatre spaces in cities throughout the United States, Europe, and Russia. Meg has presented scholarship for Society of Dance History Scholars, Congress on Research in Dance, and National Dance Educators Organization, and received a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance grant for her work with the Noyes School of Rhythm Foundation Archive.
Block Description:
Early twentieth century dance artist Isadora Duncan once remarked, “Movements are as eloquent as words.” Movements are not words, yet choreographers seek copyright protection of their dances, just as authors copyright written texts. Literature and scholarship are built on a history of quoting, citing, and referencing the ideas and words of other authors. How does this process work within the field of dance? When does a movement quotation slip from citation to cheating?
Readings/Viewings for Week One:
A Copyright Primer for the Dance Community. Dance Heritage Coalition: Washington,
DC. 2003. Print (available online as pdf: HYPERLINK "http://danceheritage.org/Copyright-Primer.pdf" http://danceheritage.org/Copyright-Primer.pdf 12 pages).

The Elements of Dance. HYPERLINK "http://www.elementsofdance.org/" http://www.elementsofdance.org/ (Read sections on Body, Action, Space, Time, Energy).

Franko, Mark. Dance as Text: Ideologies of the Baroque Body. New York, Oxford
University Press, 2015.
(Read Prologue and Chapter 1: HYPERLINK "https://find.mtsu.edu/vufind/Record/.b32280993" https://find.mtsu.edu/vufind/Record/.b32280993).

Readings/Viewings for Week Two:
Documenting Dance: a Practical Guide. Dance Heritage Coalition: Washington, DC.
2006. Print. (available online as pdf: HYPERLINK "http://danceheritage.org/DocumentingDance.pdf" http://danceheritage.org/DocumentingDance.pdf 65 pages).

The Isadora Duncan ArchiveHYPERLINK "http://www.isadoraduncanarchive.org/" http://www.isadoraduncanarchive.org/

Respond to the following questions in essay form. Essays should be 3-5 pages (750-1250 words), double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, with one inch margins. Include a works-cited page.

What is movement literacy and how do dance artists “read” and “write” dance movements? Why and how is dance documentation important, and what are the various ways dances can be documented? Given the ephemeral nature of dance, and the public’s level of movement literacy, how do dance artists build a body of work that includes recognizable quotations and citations from other artists, and at what point does that citation become a cheating? ​
Grade Distribution:
5% Class participation
10% Essay
Block 2: September 21 and 28
What happens in Vegas…? The Privilege to Cheat
Dr. LaToya Eaves (Global Studies and Human Geography)
Dr. LaToya Eaves photoBio: LaToya Eaves’ research focuses on Black resilience, survivability, and space-making as central sites of geographic knowledge, with specific attention to the American and Global South, sexualities, religious spaces, political movements, and the legal system. She received her PhD from Florida International University in Global and Sociocultural Studies, with a major field of Geography.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Global Studies and Human Geography Department and is affiliated with the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at MTSU.
Block Description:
What happens in Vegas…?” is an exploration of boundaries cheating, many of which rely on the reality (or illusion) of privilege. The block will explore the privilege to cheat through behavioral, sociocultural, and economic factors – including “the human”, sex, money, sexualities, gender, nationalism, and social institutions such as marriage.
Readings/Viewings for Week One:
Adler, Patricia A., and Peter Adler. "Intense loyalty in organizations: A case study of college athletics." Administrative Science Quarterly (1988): 401-417.
Blythe, Anne. "Agent pleads guilty to giving money to UNC football players." News & Observer. April 17, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/acc/unc/article145007249.html.
Gert, Bernard. “Loyalty and Morality” in Loyalty, edited by Sanford Levinson, Joel Parker, and Paul Woodruff, 3-21. New York: New York University Press, 2013.
Staff, NPR. "The Cheater's High And Other Reasons We Cheat." NPR. June 28, 2016. Retrieved from: HYPERLINK "http://www.npr.org/2016/06/28/483263713/the-cheaters-high-and-other-reasons-we-cheat" http://www.npr.org/2016/06/28/483263713/the-cheaters-high-and-other-reasons-we-cheat. (listen to the podcast recording).
Wynter, Sylvia. "Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument." CR: The New Centennial Review, vol. 3 no. 3, 2003
Readings/Viewings for Week Two:
Kempadoo, Kamala. Sexing the Caribbean (New York: Routledge, 2004), 53-85.
Peterson, Kristin. “Be/Longings” In The ethics of kinship: Ethnographic inquiries, edited by James D. Faubion, 225-239. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.
White, Dean J. "Introduction" and “The Ignorant Bystander?” In The Ignorant Bystander?: Britain and the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, 1-23, 38-70. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015. 
Weekly Blogs
For each week’s readings, you will compose a blog and post it to the Discussions area of the D2L course site. Writing at least 350 words ensures you engage in the required depth, keeping within 400 words develops your skills in editing and crisp writing. Weekly Blogs will be due on September 20 and 27 by 11:59 pm in the appropriate D2L Dropbox. Instructions for the Weekly Blogs may be found on D2L.
Music Analysis Assignment
Much of a global sense of values is communicated through media – radio, television, social media, news websites. So how does music communicate a global sense of values? Music is heavily incorporated into our cultural landscape – at football games, in restaurants, at church, in elevators, during commercials on tv. For this assignment, you will be conducting an analysis of music. In your analysis, you should discuss how the songs (two songs of your own choosing) reflect cheating (based on how we have/will discuss in our two course readings).
Detailed instructions can be found on D2L.
(Final Paper – 4-5 pages, double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman Font, 1 in. margins + Works Cited Page(s))
Paper Outline: Due in class, September 21 (10%)
Draft: Due in class, September 28 (20%)
Final Paper: Due in Dropbox on D2L, October 5, 11:59 pm (20%)
Grade Distribution:
20% Participation/Attendance
30% Weekly Blogs 
50% Music Analysis Assignment
Block 3: October 5 and 12
Borrowing and Cheating in Creative Musical Expression
Dr. Joseph E. Morgan (Music)
Dr. Joseph Morgan photoBio: A graduate of Brandeis University (Ph.D. 2009) Joseph Morgan’s primary research focuses on the dramatic music, theory and aesthetics of Germany in the early 19th century. He has presented research on E. T. A. Hoffmann, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Giacomo Meyerbeer and Carl Maria von Weber. His secondary research interests cross the traditional boundaries between 'classical' and 'popular' music to include blues, jazz, hip hop and rock and roll.
Block Description:
We will look at four difference cases of “borrowing” and “cheating,” from Jazz, Rock and Roll, Hard Rock, and Baroque Music in order to understand how the concept of “cheating” can be defined and redefined in terms of cultural, historical and social context. 
Readings/Viewings for Week One:
A. Handel and self-Borrowing, B. The Cover Song
Thomas Forrest Kelly, “2. George Frideric Handel, Messiah” in First Nights: Five Musical Premieres Yale University Press: New Haven,  60-108.
Deena Weinstein, “Cover Song” Grove Dictionary of American Music Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed August 11, 2017,HYPERLINK "http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2262167" http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/A2262167.
Readings/Viewings for Week Two:
A. The passus duriusculus,  B. Contrafact
Corey Mwambe, Contrafacts in jazz: language, myth, method and homage, HYPERLINK "http://www.coreymwamba.co.uk/mres/contrafacts/essay.html" http://www.coreymwamba.co.uk/mres/contrafacts/essay.html
Assignment: Write an essay that examines the moral (not legal!) implications of borrowing in musical expression. When is it wrong, when is it appropriate, and who should decide? Your essay should employ specific musical examples, be at least 3 full pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins.
Grade Distribution:
25% Participation
75% Essay
Block 4: October 19 and 26
Political Corruption
Dr. Stephen Morris (Political Science)
Dr. Stephen Morris photo
Bio: Stephen Morris is professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations. He has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Arizona. Before joining MTSU in the fall of 2009, he served as the Director of the International Studies Program at the University of South Alabama and Professor of Political Science for two decades. He has taught in Mexico at the Universidad de las Americas, as a Fulbright lecturer at the Universidad de Guadalajara, and taught and directed the summer program in Guadalajara for Thunderbird: The Graduate School of International Management for many years. Most of his research has centered on Mexico. Books include Corruption and Politics in Contemporary Mexico (1991) Political Reformism in Mexico (1995), Gringolandia: Mexican Identity and Perceptions of the United States (2005),Corruption and Democracy in Latin America (2009, co-edited with Charles Blake), Political Corruption in Mexico: The Impact of Democratization(2009), and Corruption and Politics in Latin America (2010, co-edited with Charles Blake). Research articles have appeared in Bulletin of Latin American Research, Comparative Political StudiesJournal of Latin American Studies, Latin American Research Review, Third World Quarterly,among others. He has also served as president of the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies (SECOLAS), as a member of the editorial board of the organization’s journal, The Latin Americanist, and Carta Economica Regional (Universidad de Guadalajara), and has directed study abroad programs in Mexico, Honduras and, Cuba.

Block Description:

All societies and governments suffer some degree of corruption. A complicated concept with contested definitions, corruption has attracted substantial attention in recent years from governments, international organizations, NGOs, and scholars. In this block, you will gain a basic introduction into the study of corruption and explore the individualistic dimension: why people engage in corruption. Among other aspects, we will explore and critique Lord Acton’s famous quote: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  
Readings/Viewings for Week One:
Holmes, Corruption: A Very Short Introduction. 2015. Chapters 1 and 4.
Readings/Viewings for Week Two:
Ailon (2015) “From superstars to devils: The ethical discourse on managerial figures involved in corporate scandal.” Organization 22 (1): 78-99.

Gino, et al. (2013) “Self-serving altruism? The lure of unethical actions that benefit others”.   Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 93: 285-292.

Rabl and Kuhlmann (2008) “Understanding Corruption in Organizations: Development and Empirical Assessment of an Action Model” Journal of Business Ethics 82 (2): 477-495.
Required Assignments:
Read the materials and bring to class a question and a quote from each for classroom discussion.
Writing Assignment:
A brief essay (4-5 pages double-spaced max) in response to one of the following questions:
What factors, including attitudes and beliefs associated with power, authority, and corruption, determine whether an individual engages in corruption?
How does authority (power) and money influence perspectives regarding corruption and the participation in corruption?
What can government and society do to limit the degree to which individuals engage in corruption?  
Grade Distribution:
60% Classroom discussion/participation (including Q&Qs)
40% Essay
Block 5: November 2 and 9
‘Does Anyone Really Care?: A Sociological Examination of the Meaning and Consequences of Cheating”
Dr. Jackie Eller (Sociology and Anthropology)
Dr. Jackie Eller photo
Bio: Jackie Eller received her PhD in Sociology from Oklahoma State University and has been a Professor in the department since 1985. Her teaching interests include gender, social deviance, qualitative methods and sociology of emotions, among others. She has worked with many graduate students and directed over 30 theses. She also served an interim period as Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Her research interests are many and varied, but most recently her work has included a study of Match.com, farmer-monkey interactions in St. Kitts, sexual harassment, 30 something women looking for commitment, and emotion management among animal caregivers.
Block Description:
We will be studying the possible “social deviance” of cheating. This examination will consider the construction of meaning of cheating in multiple contexts and the socio-emotional consequences of these constructions. In these two weeks, we will also consider the importance of a sociological approach to researching cheating.
Readings/Viewings for Week One:
Discussion/Lecture –
The meaning of a sociological approach to researching cheating
The meaning of social deviance – is cheating a social deviance? 
A sociological approach to emotions – emotions as related to cheating
Accounting for social deviance as related to meanings of cheating
A cheating culture?
Readings –
Goode, Erich. 2015. “The sociology of deviance: an introduction” Pp. 3-28 in Handbook of Deviance.
Scott, Marvin B. and Stanford M. Lyman. “Accounts.” American Sociological Review
Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 1968), pp. 46-62
Harris, Scott. 2015. “Thinking sociologically about emotions” Pp. 1-16 in An Invitation to the Sociology of Emotions.
Readings/Viewings for Week Two:
Students will be responsible for the following:
Read 3-5 academic journal articles that address a sociological examination of cheating in one of the following areas –
Cheating in personal relationships (might consider a gendered examination)
Cheating in sports, play or gaming
Cheating in academia – great cheats of science, in the classroom, etc.
Cheating as a theme within music lyrics;
Other, but subject to approval
Prepare a one-page outline of the major points of your articles and full reference page for each class member
Present your work to the class for discussion, in particular relating your discussion to the readings and discussion from week one. 15 minutes is about all the time each student will have for her/his presentation.
Evaluation will be based on the choice of articles, analysis of these articles, the outline and your ability to present these points to the class.

See student responsibilities for week 2 above.
Grade Composition for Block:
15% Paper
Block 6: November 16 and 30
“Cheating Truth”
Dr. Phil Oliver (Philosophy and Religious Studies)
Dr. Phil Oliver photoBio: Dr. Phil Oliver received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1998. His academic specialty is American Philosophy, in particular the thought of William James and John Dewey. His book William James's "Springs of Delight" (Vanderbilt Press, 2001) explores "personal enthusiasms and habitual 'delights' and their power to make our days meaningful, delightful, spiritual, and even transcendent...[and] to sponsor our "return to life" in all its rich, robust, and personal concreteness." His other research interests include the philosophy of childhood and education, biotechnology, ethics, the environment, and philosophical ideas in contemporary literature. He was born near St. Louis, Missouri - which possibly explains his unreasoning love of baseball (about which he has also published), and his partisan preference for the Cardinals. He lives with his family in Nashville.
Block Description: Reflections on public discourse and "alternative facts" in the politics of our time, in light of philosophers' thoughts on the indispensable value of honesty and truthfulness in civic life and in life generally. We'll examine the claim and implications of the claim that there are no facts, only interpretations. We'll consider the counter-claim that there must be both, and that the failure of some public figures to accept this is subversive of democracy.
Readings/Viewings Week One:
Harry Frankfurt, " HYPERLINK "https://www.stoa.org.uk/topics/bullshit/pdf/on-bullshit.pdf" \t "_blank" On Bullshit"
Readings/Viewings Week Two:
Adam Gopnik, " HYPERLINK "http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/norms-and-cliffs-in-trumps-america" \t "_blank" Norms and Cliffs in Drumpf's America"
Post your short essay responses to at least two discussion questions each week
Grade Distribution:
50% Essays
50% Attendance/Participation
December 14: Roundtable
MALA 6010-001-Cheating-Course Syllabus.docx - Last Modified Aug 30, 2017 12:29 PM