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On Being a Shit Unkind Deeds and Cover ups Review

On Being a Shit

Unkind Deeds and 


We 3 Monkeys think it is important that you have an introduction to some of the techniques of "Impression Management" that you may encounter every day - but particularly in situations where government or big business wants to insure that information put in front of you, presents a favorable impression through use of misinformation.

We present a Review/Summary of one of our favorite books.

On Being a Shit / Unkind Deeds & Cover-ups in Everyday Life 

Professor Gilgun's book provides an entertaining and insightful analysis of misinformation. 
Her categorization and descriptions of the types of enactors of unkind deeds and cover-ups (ie shits, bastards, pricks, schmucks and weasels) may provide some entertainment during coffee breaks or  when reading newspapers, magazines or watching the news.

While some of the titles can't usually be used in polite company, irrespective of how appropriate they may seem in a given situation - the descriptions of related behaviors provide clues to cover-ups. They also serve to remind us of the misrepresentations that are happening before our eyes and ears each day. 

You may already be well aware of the Machiavellian-type tactics Gilgun lists in her book. Perhaps you are Machiavellian yourself and this kind of behavior is in your blood.

Machiavellian is a good word to know in the context of lies, deception and cover-ups. Machiavellianism is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary"the employment of cunning and duplicity  in statecraft or in general conduct". 

Wikipedia indicates that the term Machiavellianism is also a term that some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person's tendency to be unemotional, and therefore able to detach themselves from conventional morality and hence to deceive and manipulate others. 

Some psychologists consider Machiavellianism to be essentially a subclinical form of psychopathy. We 3 Monkeys don't think that acting in a Machiavellian manner is a good thing. The consequences of the cunning, deceptive behaviors Machiavellians tend to engage in are usually unfair and unjust at best; and can be downright malicious and cruel. 

Here is a summary of the main points in this introduction to Gilgun's book and the dark art of duplicity:

On Being a Shit by Jane Gilgun D2
Unkind Deeds: 
  • Gilgun describes "Unkind Deeds" as acts that hurt someone else.
  • But effectively "Unkind Deeds" are any form of wrong-going which has hurt someone or which might hurt someone in any way.
  • In the context of this book and the focus of this blog, the "hurt" can be of any form.
  • Also, in the context of the book and the focus of this blog; the person who has done, is doing or is going to do the "unkind deed" wants to hide the fact from the victim or others. 
  • They want to cover-up their actions.
  • This leads to lies and various forms of deception.

The person or persons who do unkind deeds; or are involved in the lies and deception required to cover-up *unkind deeds (*wrong-doing in any form).
Impression management:
  • Actions designed to create a favorable impression in order to obtain support to achieve a goal.
  • Actions to save face etc when there is risk of public shame.
  • Actions to evade blame and/or consequences
  • Actions to protect one's gains (financial, social or personal etc)
  • Includes a variety of deceptive activities and cover-ups.
Shits & Bastards
  • Perpetrators (enactors) of unkind deeds and cover-ups, who have a disregard for the effects of their actions on others (recipients)
  • These enactors tend to consider themselves entitled to behave in any way they choose to cover up their deeds or get them what they want.
  • By Prof Gilgun's definition, being a shit or bastard involves 3 common factors:
  1. an unkind deed, and 
  2. a desire to evade responsibility for the unkind deed, 
  3. and a cover-up.
  • According to Gilgun, the difference between shits and bastards is based upon a 4th factor - recipient buy-in. 
  • In the case of shits, as a consequence of the enactor's actions, recipients are duped and there is buy-in. 
  • In the case of bastards, the recipients aren't duped. 
  • According to Gilgun, the crowning achievement of a shit or bastard is convincing the victim or other people the victim was at fault (not the actual enactor). 

Lies are misrepresentations, used as a means of creating false impressions, managing impressions, or covering up actions.

Individuals who lie know what truth is and want to conceal it.
Lying is commonly motivated by a desire of the enactor to hide wrong-doing.

There are 2 main categories of lies:
  • Lies of Omission
  • involves concealment of information
  • individuals withold the truth and know they are doing so; and
  • Lies of Commission
  • involves falsification of information
  • involves people making up something that is untrue; or altering evidence of the truth
      Some Types of Lies
        • A humbug is a fraud or impostor, who makes use of unjustified publicity and spectacle (eg. Actors on TV who pretend to be a doctor or dentist etc in order to persuade the audience to buy something is a form of humbug).
        • A humbug talks or behaves in a way that is deceptive, dishonest, false, or insincere
          Bullshit disposal bag D2
        • Humbugs strive to be taken seriously; but often aren't.
          • Defined differently by Gilgun from being a Shit.
          • Part of the difference is due to the enactor not intending to cause harm; and not actually causing harm.
          • A Bullshitter is one who tries to get away with something, but generally does not expect to be taken seriously.
          • Persons who engage in bullshit are uncommitted to the truth; but there is an implicit understanding that the recipients know they are being dealt untruths
          • "White lies" are a form of bullshit. 
          • Obvious exaggeration used in benign forms of advertising probably fits in this category too. 

          • Truthiness is a concept popularized by political satirist Stephen Colbert in 2005.
          • "It used to be everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything."
          • It is commonly used by politicians, advertising and public relations people. It is often  used to cover-up wrong-doing or embarrassing truths.
          • Truthiness is a form of lying in such a way that it appears that facts or circumstances that are given are relevant and true (whereas they are outright lies or carefully crafted misrepresentations of the truth to trick the hearer or reader into thinking that what they are being told is true).  

          • What's particularly dangerous with regard to truthiness from the perspective of governments and other organizations operating in the public trust is that the speakers of truthiness may be the only ones with knowledge of the real facts; but they choose to conceal the real facts by pretending to tell the truth regarding them.
          • Sorting out fact from fiction (ie truth vs "truthiness") is one of the major reasons that freedom of information is essential in a democracy. 
            • Spin involves putting an interpretation on events. 
              PR D2
            • When an interpretation of events is not intended to be deceptive - it is an opinion. Anyone is entitled to an opinion - and an opinion can be right or wrong.
            • Spin is generally reserved to describe words and actions designed to create an  interpretation that is intended to deceive the recipient. 
            • Spin is often a propaganda technique. It is often used in public relations to persuade public opinion in favor or against certain actions, organizations or a figure (person).
            • Spin (as opposed to an opinion) involves the use of dishonest, deceptive and/or highly manipulative behaviors to create an impression and cause the receiver of the message to think and act in a certain way. Truthiness and many of the other forms of lying are employed to "spin" the preferred impression.
            Spin and PR D2
            • Blow-back is a particularly malicious form of spin propaganda. It tends to be used when enactors realize that their wrong doing is about to be exposed.
            • Blow-back is a truly Machiavellian form of propaganda. It should really raise a red warning flag regarding what the people propagating the blow-back "spin" have really been up to.
            • Swift-boating is a common blow-back  technique. It is intended to undermine the credibility of resistors and cause resistors to back down. 
              The Difference Between Spin & Truthiness
              • With spin the facts are not contested. It is the interpretation that is manipulated.
              • With truthiness, the facts are also manipulated.
              To Equivocate
                • To use ambiguous statements that have more than one meaning

                Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, formerly known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), was a political group of United States Swift boat veterans and former prisoners of war of the Vietnam War, formed during the 2004 presidential election campaign for the purpose of opposing John Kerry's candidacy for the presidency. The campaign inspired the widely-used political pejorative "swiftboating", to describe an unfair or untrue political attack.
                  • A form of propaganda
                  • A political trick of claiming to expose truth while in fact lying to undermine the oppositions character and credibility.
                  • May involve making up stories to undermine the character or credibility of an opponent.
                  • The objective is to cast doubt and create false impressions regarding an opponent.
                  • Cover-ups that involve discrediting others by attacking their strong points
                  • As a result of such attacks, high merit is made suspect and even smeared
                  • A psychological technique whereby the enactor uses lies or tricks to make another person doubt their memory or mental health.
                  • Can be anything from an enactor denying that an actual event ever happened or setting up strange incidents to confuse the victim.

                  Methods of Deception

                  1. withholding information
                  2. outright lies
                  3. prevarication
                  4. spin
                  5. truthiness
                  6. deflection of blame
                  7. blaming
                  8. shaming
                  9. mockery
                  10. "I can't recall." (pretext of memory failure)
                  11. "Mistakes are made." (denial of personal responsibility)
                  12. "What do you expect?" (dismissiveness)
                  13. minimization
                  14. silence
                  15. duplicity
                  16. humor
                  17. indignation
                  18. facial expressions
                  19. name-calling
                  20. cut-offs
                  21. threats to abandon
                  22. gas-lighting
                  23. swift-boating


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                  For more tips on detecting deception, 
                  you might be interested in...

                  White Lies, Grey Lies and Dark Lies

                  Spotting Spin - Some Tricks of the Trade

                  Can you recognize genuine Grass Roots from Astroturf Trickery?
                  Tip - This is not a gardening guide. 

                  Quotes on Lies, Lying and Liars

                  Lies disguised as truth P3

                  Some politicians and bureaucrats think the general public are dumb. They want to keep us that way by controlling what information we are given. 

                  The information we are provided may be "truthiness" (which is not the truth, and involves all manner of deception), not truth. Lies and deception are often used to put a positive spin on matters  we would not agree to, or would disgust us if we knew the truth. Secrecy is another tool of "impression management" to cover up wrong-doing, or shameful or corrupt acts.

                  Freedom of information is a cornerstone of democracy and justice. Without it, the risk of a decline into an authoritarian form of government is virtually inevitable.

                  Are we "sheep-les" or mere puppets who can be led to believe and do whatever our masters say; or are we thinking people who want to be truthfully informed? 

                  Are we willing to speak up and insist on the truth? Are we prepared to take action to guard our democratic rights and our rights to justice and fair treatment?

                  Thinking Tiger D2

                  The people generally trust their government, law-makers and the publicly funded bureaucrats who are responsible for representing their interests. But the "people" are being deceived in many instances. We feel this is wrong.  The "people" - ordinary folk like you and me have great power in democratic countries. We can and should do something about this.

                  tiger sleeping D2
                  Lies, deception, cover-ups and corrupt practices must be "out"-ed if they are to end. This is necessary for democracy and justice to survive.

                  The "people" are like a sleeping tiger.

                  tiger jumping D2

                  If you pull the tail of the tiger; it is to be expected that the tiger will wake up, take notice of it's tormenters and give chase.

                  In the interests of democracy, justice, world peace and a stable economy for ordinary people - the tiger must run wrong-doers to the ground.

                  Tiger running wrong do-ers to ground D2

                  Separator D2b

                  Original 3 Monkeys D2
                  Original 3 Monkeys

                  All that is required for evil to take hold and grow is to: close your eyes, block your ears, shut your mouth - and do nothing.

                  If we do nothing - then nothing will improve.

                  Spreading the Word D2
                  Spread the word!

                  One person can achieve little or nothing. 
                  Many can move mountains.

                  3 Freedom Monkeys D2
                  3 Freedom of Information Monkeys

                  Thank you from
                  3 Monkeys & me

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