Fake fake burgers, fake fake bills, and fake fake pills
The ontological horror of ‘fake fake’ in three fictional stories, with introductions. (A 15-minute read.)
Some throat-clearing first
I was sitting outside the house, busy minding my own business. I was thinking funny to me thoughts about Oreo cookies. Would it be gay science to write whether Oreos could be called “fresh” if they were never fresh to begin with? As I presently recall, I had those thoughts in my head because I had remembered some Seinfeld stand up from many years prior where Jerry said some things about Pop Tarts and the back of his head exploding… I went in for a moment to get my tablet out and do an online look-up of Seinfeld, Pop Tarts, Oreos, and American multinational confectionery snack food and beverage companies for more fun ideas. That was when an email notification hit me: A friend of mine, who I suppose is the same kind of ‘anti-psychiatry psychiatrist’ who R.D. Laing was said to be, had sent me a message with some big news. A big thing happened last week. Or, rather, a big thing collapsed. The serotonin theory of depression has been officially shown to be fake.
False. Faux. Fabricated. Made up. Counterfeit. Bogus. Unactual. Phoney. Baloney. Hogwash. Sham. Imitated. Forged. Mimicked. Allegedly, a scam. The idea that depression is the result of abnormalities in brain chemicals (particularly serotonin) has been influential for decades and provided a crucial justification for the prescription of antidepressants. So now we find out that the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression is fake. If only they (we?) could have looked at all the data before they (we?) got three generations of people dependent on SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Perhaps, more importantly, if the aforementioned major theory is fake, what other major theories are in fact fake, too?
Anyway. This summer, I have been spending time in the sun, reading. In the past week, I have been moved by my dwelling on How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart After Two Days by Philip K. Dick (PKD). Among several phenomena and ideas fascinating me (rather, obsessing me, some would say) that PKD wrote about, he elucidated the “fake fake”—as he called it—or, in other words, simulated forgeries.
Why and how PKD’s fake fake, and the text of How to Build the Universe move me to the point of being dizzy, I have to leave to write about on the next occasion, because it is currently uncertain and remains to be seen whether my dizziness is due to PKD’s simulated forgeries, due to too much sun, or due to the lack of some B vitamin. At the moment, to stop thinking about fake fake, I have to write my thoughts down.
A trio of little stories will follow below. But first, a little philosophical introduction.
A little philosophical introduction
Lack of consensus on philosophical matters among philosophers can easily be seen by a philosopher, an academic, a layman like me—hell, I speculate it might be easily explained to a 10-year old child or even shown to a golden retriever. The lack of consensus is what I find thought-provoking. It excites and amuses me; it bothers me—and, apparently, not only me.
God and no-God-whatsoever, good and evil, the real and the unreal, the awake state and the dream, the true and the false. Those pairs of opposites continue to remain at least partially hidden and I enjoy the way I feel when the concealment bothers me. But what is worrying me today—and I hope to relieve the worry by writing about it—is this observation:
In my view, not only was the distinction between real things and fake things erased but, in the current millennium, fake fake things have been shaking us further, bringing much instability to the world of man.
Real things are disappearing.
But real things (and truth) are needed to give stability to our lives.
The things-of-the-world get “their relative independence from men who produced and use them (…) From this viewpoint, the things of the world have the function of stabilizing human life, and their objectivity lies in the fact that—in contradiction to the Heraclitean saying that the same man can never enter the same stream—men, their ever-changing nature notwithstanding, can retrieve their sameness, that is, their identity, by being related to the same chair and the same table.”
Things and truth have the stability-giving ability in common due to their shared resistance to change or manipulation. In other words, things used to be the calm centers of earthly life. Where real things are replaced by fake things, all stability is lost.
I suppose that we may not only observe and/or be affected by how things are taken over by fake things and how fake things are mixed in among the real things, but we may also be wondering: What is real and what is illusion? What if fake fake things turned out, after all, to be real? Partly real, if that’s possible? Double unreal? A simulacrum of a simulacrum? If the real is unsatisfactory, can the satisfactory fake be justified, and, going further, would I (or, we) prefer the real and unsatisfactory over the unreal and satisfactory thing, person, world? Oh, I’d better not say more. Let’s have the present Reader read for him- or her-self and decide what and what not to wonder about when it comes to the real, the fake, and the fake fake. And how those seemingly emerge out of a conundrum.
This brings me to a fictional story I came up with.
A fictional story
In a big city, Jack and Jill decided to live together. Jack moved in to Jill’s place.
Jill is a vegan. She has been working on Jack so that he goes vegan, too. So far, Jack has been politely reluctant but who knows what the future holds.
At the moment, Jack “still” likes his burgers and that fact, which is the state of affairs, puts him in an awkward position. Since Jack works a rather flexible schedule, it is down to him to do the groceries to stock up the refrigerator, and buying and bringing burgers to make for himself at home has become a problem because a couple of beef patties placed on the top shelf of the fridge have been a sore sight for Jill’s eyes—Jill hasn’t abstained from letting Jack know about that on several occasions.
Therefore, Jack is distraught as he is facing a conundrum: He’d like Jill to be happy with him and he isn’t willing to give up his burgers.
Presently, the problem is being secretly solved by Jack. He buys burgers and he buys fake burgers (plant-based patties). He replaces the fake burgers, in their original packaging, with the burgers. He discards the rest. What is now placed in the fridge are fake fake burgers.
This reminds me of another fictional story I came up with.
Another fictional story
There is a small print shop in Mexico, close to the US border. In the warehouse in the back of the shop counterfeit dollar bills are occasionally printed when ordered by the Mexican drug cartel. The shop printed fake bills for the cartel on several occasions before and the boss of the print shop got paid very well in cash for each job.
An order has just come in. The crew is printing the fake bills. Close to the end of fulfilling the order, they realise they’re running out of fake printing paper but some more fake bills need to be printed. This fact, which is the state of affairs, puts the boss in an awkward position. The consequences of fulfilling an order that is incomplete, or an order which completion would be delayed due to having to wait for more fake paper are unthinkable as the cartel would be angry. It is bad news when the cartel is angry.
The boss is distraught as he is facing a conundrum: He definitely doesn’t want the cartel angry and he doesn’t have enough fake bills.
Presently, the problem is being secretly solved by the print shop boss. He makes up the missing batch out of his pocket, using cash. Those are the bills he collected as payment for the previous orders. To be added to the stacks of the fake bills, the cash is placed on the large table. The boss calls those bills the fake fake bills.
This brings me to recall yet another fictional story I came up with.
Yet another fictional story
It is the year 2035 and a pandemic of a severely dangerous bacterial infection has just been announced by the World Disease Organisation (WDO).
Immediately, all governments of the world panic and over-react, as governments do. And, as governments do, they all proceed to take action without thinking: since as soon as an evil is seen, ‘some thing’ instantly and efficiently ought to be done to prevent it.
Large orders of high financial value are being placed into the hands of drug mass-manufacturers in order for a pill to be researched, developed, and produced as soon as possible.
Obviously, the drug mass-manufacturers face a conundrum: Pills are needed immediately and the pills would take a long time (due to trials) to be made available for mass ingestion.
In a major clandestine meeting a bright young researcher volunteers the idea to rely on the placebo effect of pharmaceuticals. The placebo was thoroughly studied over the past decade and consequently declared to be a force to be reckoned with, a new ‘gold standard’, they called it. The manufacturers agree that the placebo theory is good. Placebo it will be.
In practical terms, the mass-manufacturers come up with the following solution. They make sure that their upcoming product has been protected with intellectual property laws formulated in a very new way, as well as novel “security packaging”, so that no one, including the WDO and the governments of the world, and I repeat, no one will inspect the content of the pills. The governments agree.
Usually, when drug mass-manufacturers create medication, it has several ingredients. Obviously, a drug would always contain active ingredients—the chemical compounds that treat the condition or the pathogen for which the medication is taken. Pills also contain inactive ingredients. These inactive ingredients are called excipients. Excipients are included in almost all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and nutritional supplements. Those ingredients may be dyes, flavors, substances that function to bind the pills together, lubricants, and preservatives.
But now, all pills that will address the pandemic are being made of corn starch supplemented with a little polyvinyl alcohol graft polyethylene glycol copolymer. The fake pills are manufactured entirely from excipients. The fact, which is the state of affairs, is known only to the top executives and very few selected workers—there’s nothing unusual about that: Already in the middle of the previous century, it was appreciated that frequently the workers in the great factories did not even know the name or the exact function of the piece produced by their machines.
Urgent deliveries are currently following. Ingestions by all people of the world are beginning to take place. The fake pills can now be put into the mouths of all. But there is a small country, New New Zealand, which was established in 2030 through secession from New Zealand.
In New New Zealand, the entire government consists of women. In 2030, a new constitution was passed without a referendum—in the name of gender equality—allowing only female voters to vote. Women only voted for women.
The women in the government love the citizens very much and strive to lead the nation with a compassionate heart and a gentle touch.
At this moment, the government is distraught as they are facing a conundrum: 1. They want to save the citizens from the dangerous bacteria. 2. They aren’t willing to take the risk that comes with globally-distributed “experimental” pills that have not gone through trials. The Health Minister Jacinda Anchovy (pronouns she/her) even sarcastically tweeted: How can experimental pills be called experimental when no one experimented? The minister, aware of the latest research on the placebo effect, proposed a clandestine solution, and the government, unaware of the secret placebo-pill mass-manufacturing process that had already taken place, agreed.
Presently, the problem is being solved: pills are ordered and paid for to be delivered by the drug mass-manufacturers. But a local manufacturer in New New Zealand is being contracted by the New New Zealand government to secretly replace the imported manufactured pills with local pills entirely made of excipients: corn starch supplemented with a little linoleoyl macrogol glycerides. The Health Minister calls the locally made pills the fake pills. But isn’t she wrong? Those pills are fake fake pills.
This reminds me of another fictional story, which has got to do with complications of fake fake news and Dominion voting machines and where the very issue of “real” vs. “unreal” turns out to be false and irrelevant because the authentic issue lies elsewhere in another dominion if it lies anywhere at all, and how so? Well, because “Even if all news of the world was a lie it would not then follow that there is some counterfactual truth for it to be a lie about”.
But, as my high-school mathematics tutor, the late Prof. Bukowski, used to say when he was keen to change the subject and move on to something else: “That is a story to be left to be told on winter nights”.
Thanks for reading my stuff. I apologize for such a long post—I’m not smart enough to write a short one.
I kiss you on the mouth.
July AD 2022
UPDATE: On the 1st of November, I got a message from a sweet person who read what I wrote here. The person said that she was sad, or, rather, that my writing about major theories crashing and things begin turned into fakes made her sad and depressed. Well, don’t despair, I say. As we used to shout from the rooftops hanging over poker tables: Don’t worry, it’s gonna get worse! However, on a serious note, perhaps it’d be helpful to consider what A Course in Miracles teaches and I quote:
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”
“The Serotonin Theory of Depression: A Systematic Umbrella Review of the Evidence”, Molecular Psychiatry, here.
For example, in random order: How come reading Nietzsche without a preset interpretation leads me to experience strong anti-nihilist vibes when compared to exact opposite vibes when reading with? Further. Are any findings today in virology akin to the “Piltdown Man” hoax of yesterday in anthropology? Are not the recently “photographed” landscapes of Mars located in Canada? Are many if not all national Parliaments nothing but paper moons over cardboard seas? Has there been fuckery afoot in stock market figures? Epidemiology? Government statistics? Voting machines? The Manhattan Project? The history of Nanjing Massacre and Unit 731? The so-called “modern art market”? Wherefore did HSBC bank pulled out of a hundred countries six years ago? Any fuckery afoot in geology? Geophysics and astrophysics? Sociology? Risk-modelling? Quantum mechanics? What is really taking place inside and around the CERN’s particle colliders? How about that Breivik’s trial (the one of the so-called Utøya massacre) where his defense attorneys were arguing he was sane and guilty, while the prosecution was arguing he was insane and not guilty? Moreover, is Hollywood not a subdivision of the CIA? For whom idiotic articles like this are written and what is the exact purpose, if any, of that writing? Is the so-called war in Youcrane really surely no-way-Jose not being used to cover up the inoculation genocide and not to (try to) protect Fizzer and other particular parties from a lynching? Are we sure?
Lastly, has not the time come to assume, as questioned by Mr. Richard Smith, the former editor of the BMJ and co-founder of the Committee on Medical Ethics (COPE), that all “health” research is fraudulent until proven otherwise? “Mainstream scientists” are now admitting their fields are rife with corruption, fraud, and “zombie” data (i.e. data that is completely fake).
At the same moment as I’m having a blast typing this text up on my Mac, the tablet at my elbow buzzes with another email notification. Now the news is that the Alzheimer’s disease “amyloid plaque theory” is being revealed to be fake. The original papers (that established the amyloid plaque model as the foundation of Alzheimer’s research over the last 16 years) might not just be wrong, but deliberately bogus and a fraud. How so? One may want to read Two Decades of Alzheimer’s Research and Inside The Corrupt World Of Alzheimer’s Science.
“For centuries philosophy asserted its legitimacy by asking and answering questions it had inherited from the Socratic and pre-Socratic legacy, that is, how to distinguish the good from the evil, the real from the unreal, the true from the false. (…) At a certain moment, however, philosophers had to face, and to cope with, a simple, painfully undeniable fact: among questions that have sustained the life of European philosophy for two and a half millennia not a single one has ever been solved to our general satisfaction; all of them remain either controversial or invalidated by philosophers’ decree. To be a nominalist or anti-nominalist is culturally and intellectually as possible today as it was in the twelfth century; to believe or not to believe that one may tell phenomena from the essence is as admissible as it used to be in ancient Greece; and so is to think that the distinction between good and evil is a contingent convention or that it is embedded in the order of things. You may still be a respectable person whether you believe or refuse to believe in God; no standards in our civilization prevent you from thinking that language reflects reality or that it creates it; and you are not barred from good society if you accept or dismiss the semantic concept of truth.”—Leszek Kołakowski, Metaphysical Horror, (1988), p.1
“There has been an increasing interest in things in cultural studies over the past few decades. This theoretical interest in things, however, does not mean that things are becoming more important in everyday life. On the contrary, the fact that they have become the explicit subject of theoretical reflection is a sign that they are disappearing.”—Byung-Chul Han, Non-things: Upheaval in the Lifeworld, (2022), translated by Daniel Steuer, Kindle edition (without numbered pages).
“The terrestrial order, the order of the earth, consists of things that take on a permanent form and provide a stable environment for dwelling. They are the ‘things of the world’, in Hannah Arendt’s sense, things that ‘have the function of stabilizing human life’. They give stability to human life.”—ibid.
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, (1998) , p.137
“Like Heidegger, Hannah Arendt holds on to the terrestrial order. She thus frequently refers to stability and duration. The things of the world stabilize human life, but so too does truth. Unlike information, truth possesses a firmness of being. Truth is characterized by duration and stability. Truth is facticity. It resists any change or manipulation. It thus forms the foundation of human existence: ‘Conceptually, we may call truth what we cannot change; metaphorically, it is the ground on which we stand and the sky that stretches above us.’ It is telling that Arendt places truth between earth and sky. Truth is a part of the terrestrial order. It gives human life stability.”—Han, Non-things.
Obviously, to me, a contradictory view is also plausible: “The world you live in is shored up by a collective of agreements. Is that something you think about? The hope is that the truth of the world somehow lies in the common experience of it. Of course the history of science and mathematics and even philosophy is a good bit at odds with this notion. Innovation and discovery by definition war against the common understanding. One should be wary. What do you think?
I dont know. I’m not sure what your view is.
I dont have a view. I used to. Now I dont. Although I have to say—again—that solipsism has always seemed to me a fairly in arguable position.”—from Cormac McCarthy, Stella Maris, (2022), IV, p.135.
“(…) what smacks of conundrum is usually just a thesis badly stated. Which I think I’ve suggested before. It’s really just a rather bald rendering of Wittgenstein. I dont know.”—ibid., IV, p.139, emphasis mine.
Georges Friedmann, Problèmes humains du machinisme industriel, (1946), p. 211, as quoted (slightly modified) in Han, Non-things.
The quote is from Cormac McCarthy, The Passenger, (2022).