The death knell is sounding for this, the most venerable of human epochs. No one can say when the era began. Many scientists think that bullshitting was invented by the ancient Sumerians, which makes sense, because most scientists think the ancient Sumerians invented beer, too. As a scholar of the art, the author disagrees. He feels the Sumerians invented beer just because they were tired of all the bullshit. Bullshitting is even more hallowed by time than beer. Certainly it was invented before written language. It was well established by the time cave painters began decorating the granite of the walls at Aurignac. Just put yourself at the primitive scene:
CAVEMAN: Nice of you to be keeping things pretty in here, Bog, but how about you help me and the boys catch a few of those mammoths instead of just painting pictures on the walls?
CAVE PAINTER: (Solemnly) By painting the mammoths on the wall, I am capturing their spirits. Thus, when you hunters meet the mammoths in the field, they will have no souls, and easily succumb to your spears.
CAVEMAN: Really? Wow. I mean, thanks. No souls, you say? This is gonna be a piece of cake. Gotta go. (CAVEMAN exits. From the exterior, we hear him screaming as he is stampeded to death by a herd of mammoths)
CAVE PAINTER: (Chuckling) What a loser!
Other ages came and went—of Stone, Bronze, Iron, Classical, Exploration, New, Aquarius—but the art and practice of bullshitting thrived. From deeply personal bogus advice ("If thou standest up right away after we swive, thou wilst not become with child") to the construction of vast monuments built by slaves, perfumed by incenses and inhabited by anointed priests in its name, bullshit ruled. Moses bullshitted the Pharoah, Anthony bullshitted Cleopatra. Columbus blew smoke up Isabella's royal buttocks. Gigantic exaggerations were responsible for war, treachery and slavery. Men worshipped other gods and followed other kings, but the real power behind the throne was always magnificent Bullshit, the mastery of which gave the ambitious individual the keys to any kingdom.
How is the modern age any different, you may ask? Vast organs of the state and the media, Congress and Fox News, for example, are devoted to spewing forth bullshit ever more pungent than any before. Many of you believe that Rush Limbaugh is entirely composed of bullshit, covered only by a thin layer of human skin, kind of like a Terminator made of pasture pudding. The Chinese nation, ruled by a philosophy long ago exposed as bullshit, get its people to make cheap bullshit to sell to us, which we borrow money from them to buy, giving them bullshit securities in return. Then we buy the cheap stuff, and when it fails to work properly, we scream "Bullshit!"
The answer to that is that the flame always burns brightest before it dies, and that the façade always seems the most impenetrable before it crumbles. The Internet will kill bullshitting. Only the Net can destroy an ancient tradition overnight. Think of the classified ads.
The author first realized this while working his last real job, back in 2007. One of his co-workers, a known practitioner of the art of lobbing meadow muffins, was entertaining us in lieu of working with the supposition that Mr. Rogers, the deceased children's' TV star, was a former Navy Seal with over a hundred confirmed Viet Cong kills.
A quiet, usually well-mannered member of the team simply hit a few buttons on his keyboard and, glancing up from his Google screen, said "Bullshit."
The silence in that room was eerie. The icon Bullshit is like the evil wizard Voldemort. It must not be named. Once identified, it loses all efficacy. It thrives in uncertainty. Evidence and skepticism are its enemies. It is the ghost story told around the campfire, the witch-tales muttered on a windy moor. The author was at such a campfire when, as a tenderfoot Boy Scout, he was sent to fetch a left-handed smoke shifter from the next Boy Scout camp. If smart phones with full Internet access had existed back then, he would not have gone. He would have typed the term under "Search" first, said "Bullshit," smiled, sat back on his log, and waited for someone less savvy to hunt for it.
It says here that the E-trade baby is never going to grow up to look for a left-handed smoke shifter, or go on a snipe hunt. To this, you may say "Bullshit! There's more crap on the Internet than anyone would have though possible when Al Gore invented it, and more gets uploaded every second!" That's true. There are acres of cattle croutons on the net. Enzyte is there. Scientology has a site. Many sites are devoted to what the author regards as the most cynical and evil of conspiracy theories (and that's quite an award) the one that regards the terrorist attack on 9-11 as an inside job by the US Government. Regardless of how many arguments about the melting point of steel or the direction the of the towers collapse may be made, the main problem with the theory is that it assumes that hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the Air Force, the air-traffic control system, the Executive Branch of the federal government and the Pentagon (who cannily decided to bomb themselves to cover-up), when presented with the opportunity to kill thousands of their innocent fellow Americans, and never mention of word of it to anyone forever, said, as if with one voice, "Sure! Great idea! Why didn't anyone ever think of this before?"
The Internet will continue to provide a platform for cow chipping, but it will also continue to supply the flames to burn those chips. Fact finding will always pursue fact-fudging. You can choose not to believe this. You may, in fact, think it is bullshit. It says here, though, that the best (or worst) part of the Age of Bullshit is behind us. If you doubt that, ask Bashar al-Assad.