The cosmic energy seems to be coalescing around a couple of flavors of dissembling today.
First, I just read a terrific little book called, On Bullshit, by Harry C. Frankfurt. In it, Frankfurt, begins with by saying, "One of the most salient feature of our culture is that there is so much bullshit." He then goes on to explore the concept of bullshit, particularly differentiating bullshit from lying.
Liars and bullshitters are, Frankfurt says, both misrepresenting themselves. But while the liar is trying to lead us away from what s/he knows to be the truth, the bullshitter doesn't care about truth, because bullshitters don't believe in "truth." When we're bullshitting, we're trafficking in the world of "possibilities" not in the world of "realities."
It's possible, for example, that "people are out most important asset," right? Who can disprove that, "we're committed to superior customer service?" These are, as Frankfurt puts it:
...assertions that purport to describe the way things are, but that cannot be anything but bullshit.
I love Frankfurt's quote of Arthur Simpson's advise to his young son:
Never tell a lie when you can bullshit your way through.
But marketers, Seth says, are liars. What he means is that marketers tell stories, like the story that a $10 tube of mascara will make you lovely, or that the $50,000 watch will make you more prestigious than the $49 one. His point: consumers want to be lied to; we want marketers to tell us enticing stories so that we will feel better about ourselves when we buy their products.
Now, using Frankfurt's construction, is this lying, or is this bullshit? Do marketers substitute falsehoods for truth, or do they not care about the truth?
I don't think marketers (or marketing) are serious enough to be liars; I just think they're bullshit artists.
Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Check out Seth's exchange with Hugh on this thread.