On Trump and bullshit

As part of a series of events celebrating what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, President Obama gave a speech in Johannesburg yesterday, in which he made reference to “the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more”.

While it seems clear that he was making a direct reference to President Trump, his remarks bring to mind broader issues such as the value of truth to democracy, and the difference between lies and liars on the one hand, and bullshitters on the other.

Sincerity is (probably) bullshit

Originally published in the Daily Maverick

It is common knowledge – or at least, it should be – that many of us exhibit significant flexibility in terms of the selves we present to others in different contexts. We might affect an accent in one context but not in another, or pretend to care more about a particular issue when trying to engage with someone who is concerned about that issue. And as much as we might not like to think about such things, our own perceptions of self are notoriously unreliable, and we are equally unreliable in recognising this.