Swimming New Zealand Bullshit

I will soon get back to discussing how and why New Zealand swimmers should be paid. But first I wanted to conclude the discussion, begun in the last Swimwatch post, about the lies told by Swimming New Zealand. But are they lies or are they bullshit?

There is a difference. And that difference was first discussed by the American philosopher, Harry Frankfurt. Frankfurt was a pretty serious academic. He was a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 until 2002, and previously taught at Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Ohio State University.

In 1984 Frankfurt published an essay called “On Bullshit”. The essay discussed the difference between lying and bullshit; between a liar and a bullshitter.

Frankfurt concludes that bullshit is speech intended to persuade, without regard for truth. The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn’t care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether or not their listener is persuaded.

On many occasions, when I have read the stuff coming out of Antares Place, I have wondered, are they telling me bullshit or are they lying?

And then I listened to another American academic, Fareed Zakaria, discuss whether Donald Trump told lies or simply spread bullshit. He concluded that, at his core, Trump is a bullshit artist. An analysis of Swimming New Zealand’s behaviour suggests it too is guilty of bullshit rather than lies.

Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point. In order to invent a lie the teller of the lie must know what is true.

Bullshit on the other hand is told by someone who is neither on the side of truth nor on the side of lies. The facts just don’t matter. Bullshit is less a matter of craft than of art, hence the term, the bullshit artist.

Swimming New Zealand bullshit all the time. They boast and boast and boast, much of it a concoction of hyperbole and falsehood. And when they are found out they are like a drunk at the bar who when confronted with the truth responds by denying the original comment or says, “Of course I knew that”

For example take the four items of bullshit mentioned in our last post. Swimming New Zealand told us that “An astonishing 49 New Zealand swimming records were broken between July 2016 – June 2017.” Swimming New Zealand knew that wasn’t an “astonishing” result. They knew it was the sport’s worst year, probably ever. Their Annual Report tells the world exactly how many records have been broken. Whether “astonishing” was true or not didn’t matter. Swimming New Zealand just said it in the hope that members would be conned. That makes it bullshit.

And then Swimming New Zealand told us that, “The announcement comes following the growth of participating swimmers entering both championships every year.” Swimming New Zealand know the number of swimmers that enter the championships. Their computer will have all that information. But the truth or lies simply do not matter. As long as the membership is conned, as long as Aon’s money is safely in the bank all will be well. That makes it bullshit.

And then Swimming New Zealand announced a new policy direction; a “revised HP strategy”. But Johns and Francis knew the truth was that “Mat Woofe will continue to coach the squad that currently swims out of that centre.” They just said it was a new direction with little regard for the truth. Irrespective of the truth if they could convince the membership that Swimming New Zealand was heading off in a bold new course all would be well. That makes it bullshit.

And finally Swimming New Zealand appears to have sat, for over a week, on the news that Gabrielle Fa’amausili had pulled out of the Commonwealth Games. Hiding something like that can be just as deceptive as not telling the truth. Why were they hiding the truth? What were they up to during the week of silence? We do not know. And that makes it bullshit.

In the month of February alone these four examples are all bullshit. Liars are acutely aware of the facts and the truth. Bullshit artists however have lost all connection with reality. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies. We see the consequences. As the crazy talk continues standard rules of fact, truth and reality disappear. For this reason the Facebook criticism of Chelle Pratt, “Why always focus on the negative” is ridiculous. Bullshit artists rely on the gullible to spread their poison. It would do the members of Swimming New Zealand well to demand the organization clean up its act.

Because right now Swimming New Zealand has piled up such vast quantities of its trademark product that the stench is overwhelming and unbearable.

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