[Ads-l] bullshit detector

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 22 09:51:23 EST 2022


Is there a bullshit detector that isn't built-in?

On Sat, Jan 22, 2022, 2:11 AM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Mike Scott (lead singer of the band The Waterboys) posted a query on
> Twitter about the phrase "bullshit detector," which he first heard in the
> 1977 song by The Clash, "Garageland."
>
> https://twitter.com/MickPuck/status/1484323204843794432
>
> In 1958, Ernest Hemingway famously used the expression "shit-detector" in
> The Paris Review:
>
> ---
> https://www.theparisreview.org/back-issues/18
> Ernest Hemingway, "The Art of Fiction No. 21," interview with George
> Plimpton
> Paris Review, Vol. 18, Spring 1958
> The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof
> shit-detector.
> ---
>
> As for "bullshit detector," the earliest citation that looks legitimate on
> Google Books is from 1969:
>
> ---
> https://books.google.com/books?id=vIxBAAAAIAAJ&q=bullshit (snippet view)
> Garson Kanin, _Cast of Characters: Stories of Broadway and Hollywood_
> (1969) , p. 409
> An indispensable ace with a built-in radar-type bullshit detector.
> ---
>
> The next earliest cite I've found is from 1970:
>
> ---
>
> https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-land-of-the-permanent-wave-is-bud-shrakes-classic-take-on-60s-texas
> Edwin "Bud" Shrake, "The Land of the Permanent Wave"
> _Harper's_, Feb. 1970, p. 78 [ProQuest]
> Dowdy’s bullshit detector had not been functioning while wet, but now there
> was a clattering in the machinery inside his head and he cast a suspicious,
> stricken look at us.
> ---
>
> There's a hit on Google Books snippet view that appears to be from 1967,
> but it's actually misdated and misidentified. The Google Books record for
> the volume has the title _Theatre at Work: Playwrights and Productions in
> the Modern British Theatre: a Collection of Interviews and Essays_ (1967),
> but a search on "1973" reveals it's actually Charles Marowitz's
> _Confessions of a Counterfeit Critic: a London Theatre Notebook, 1958-1971_
> (1973).
>
> https://books.google.com/books?id=pzJaAAAAMAAJ&q=bullshit
> https://books.google.com/books?id=pzJaAAAAMAAJ&q=1973
>
> The 1973 book is available on Internet Archive. There you can see that the
> line appears in a commentary on Marowitz's April 1967 Village Voice review
> of a staging of Chekhov's _Three Sisters_.
>
> ---
> https://archive.org/details/confessionsofcou0000maro/page/126/mode/2up
> Charles Marowitz,  _Confessions of a Counterfeit Critic: a London Theatre
> Notebook, 1958-1971_, 1973, p. 126
> Whenever she worked, one could hear her built-in bullshit-detector, that
> most delicate of all precision instruments, ticking in the background.
> ---
>
> The original Village Voice review is here, and it doesn't have the
> "bullshit detector" line:
>
> https://books.google.com/books?id=mQNOAAAAIBAJ&pg=PA12
>
> --bgz
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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