que será, será
January 22, 2015 9:06 PM   Subscribe

"Wikipedia's now-deleted [or redirected] page on the thought-terminating cliche"

Robert Jay Lifton wrote Thought Reform And The Psychology Of Totalism A Study of "Brainwashing" In China, and enumerated Eight Criteria For Thought Reform.
posted by the man of twists and turns (73 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well if Wikipedia says it, I believe it, that settles it.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:19 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


A shame the page was deleted, but what can you do?
posted by um at 9:30 PM on January 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


Meh *shrugs*
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:31 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Today in irony: Wikipedia edit terminates potential thoughts about thought-terminating cliche.
posted by axiom at 9:32 PM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


It is what it is.
posted by borges at 9:32 PM on January 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


So it goes.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:33 PM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


"simultaneously holds two or more conflicting cognitions, e.g. ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions..."


"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

F. Scott Fitzgerald
posted by clavdivs at 9:33 PM on January 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


thought terminating cliché post comment
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:35 PM on January 22, 2015


Chacun à son goût. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. L'état, c'est moi!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:35 PM on January 22, 2015




If you follow the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism#Thought-terminating_clich.C3.A9 link in your "redirected" link, you get pretty much the same information.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:37 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Shit happens.
posted by furtive at 9:38 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you don't like it, you can leave.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:40 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


It seems like it was a pretty dumb and axe-grindy article. It felt as thought it was written by a sea lion. I'm not sad it's gone.
posted by 256 at 9:51 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


So Wikipedia reinvented platitudes?
posted by Segundus at 9:52 PM on January 22, 2015


Well, that's that!
posted by flotson at 10:19 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is bullshit - you're oversimplifying a complex situation to the point of no longer adding anything to the discussion.
posted by Phssthpok at 10:20 PM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


The dissuasion is about semiotic discussion.
posted by clavdivs at 10:27 PM on January 22, 2015


Wikipedia did not delete it, they merged it into Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, the book that the idea came from.
posted by foobaz at 10:35 PM on January 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


The culprit could be Scientologists, as the big cults hate that Thought Reform jazz and fight to discredit the concept of brainwashing.
posted by johngoren at 10:36 PM on January 22, 2015


I like the Oxford comma!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:42 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always used these as segues out of awkward small-talk conversations. Especially with people I don't agree with. Today at work someone was whining about what a terrible job the office cleaners do, which made me uncomfortable because complaining about low-level service workers is one of my pet peeves. Rather than tell my coworker (who I otherwise like) that she was being a shit, I just trotted out a "But what can you do, eh?" and changed the subject.

It's an especially easy way to make someone think you agree with them when you don't.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 PM on January 22, 2015 [48 favorites]


Wikipedia did not delete it, they merged it into Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, the book that the idea came from.

That's just what they want you to think.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:57 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Whatevs
posted by Ratio at 11:44 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's a great tip Sara C. I need to start using that.
posted by Carillon at 11:57 PM on January 22, 2015


The heart wants what the heart wants.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:05 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Simultaneously holds two or more conflicting cognitions.
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:34 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Agree, Sara C. Some of these 'thought-terminating cliches' are really useful as non-provocative 'lines of conversation-terminating cliches'. Especially 'To each their own', which I find an incredibly useful response to people loudly voicing normative opinions about others. Maybe it's a bit craven, but you can't always have those arguments.
posted by pixelrevolt at 2:18 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function drink."

FTFY. Scott Fitzgerald

posted by chavenet at 2:23 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Praise Vectron!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:30 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Que Sera Sera
posted by Wolof at 3:30 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I just trotted out a "But what can you do, eh?" and changed the subject.

Are you already using que Sara Sara or can I borrow it?
posted by jfuller at 4:06 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've always used these as segues out of awkward small-talk conversations. Especially with people I don't agree with. . . complaining about low-level service workers is one of my pet peeves.

Que Sera Sara, sirrah, see?
 
posted by Herodios at 4:07 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:23 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


the big cults hate that Thought Reform jazz

Be honest, Though Reform jazz started to lose it edge when it got out of the little venues. Now it's just bloated and cliche commercial tracks played by soulless studio musicians. Let it go already.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 AM on January 23, 2015 [10 favorites]




That's life, I suppose, but remember: death can come at any moment, and soon enough, our bodies will end, and our thoughts will end, and our memories will be forgotten and our churches will beome ashes and even the earth itself will go cold and black and airless after the long and silent death of the dying sun. No light, no sound, no things - simply lifeless matter, moving without meaning, unobserved by any mind.

"And yet," I coo as I produce a crystal ball from between my long-nailed fingers, "for now the feast must continue. Indeed, is this not precisely why the banquet must not end? Life is the celebration, and death is the reason. What lo, the harlequin laughs, the mannikin dances, the jackdaw jeers..."

You walk slowly backwards out of the Spencer's Gifts as I continue to sing the wisdom-toots of my honey-throated truth-song. You attempt to attract your compatriot's attention, so that she might extricate you from this awkward encounter, but fie! It is of no use, for she has already been distracted by the finger-cymbals of Orthellio Mordredius Fate-Prance, my wingman.

And also, it's like twenty feet to the exit, so we've got some time to get into my thoughts on the importance of music and art. (I think they're important.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:57 AM on January 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


The rest is silence.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:07 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think many of these are not so much "thought-terminating cliches" as they are logical or rhetorical fallacies that are the page's author's pet peeves (like the appeal to authority). "Jesus said it" could be a thought-terminating cliche for a literalist Christian, but technically not for a devout Muslim, although it might be highly persuasive nevertheless.
posted by radicalawyer at 5:39 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have loved "It is what it is" ever since my world weary 6 year old niece said it to me.
posted by srboisvert at 5:56 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, it just goes to show ...
posted by Kabanos at 6:11 AM on January 23, 2015


Oh well.
posted by Foosnark at 6:15 AM on January 23, 2015


Why do you hate America?
posted by Wet Spot at 6:28 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can I just point out that it should be 'Lo que será, será' ?
posted by signal at 6:39 AM on January 23, 2015


It was ever thus.
posted by monospace at 6:46 AM on January 23, 2015


So, is this why we can't have nice things?
posted by DaddyNewt at 6:50 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


仕方が無い
posted by ctmf at 6:53 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised no one has pointed out that the last link in the FPP contains a bona-fide MARQUEE tag? Critics of cult mind control techniques, heal thyself.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:03 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always used these as segues out of awkward small-talk conversations.

I use them to attempt (and fail) to get out of arguments with my six-year-old, who believes we're not done talking until I agree with him. "We're going to have to agree to disagree." "No! I don't agree to do that!"
posted by gerstle at 7:31 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


....so, if I prepare a comeback to each of these clichés, I'll be ready.
posted by amtho at 7:35 AM on January 23, 2015


It is known.
posted by drezdn at 8:12 AM on January 23, 2015


Despite the fact that they are sitting at the bar, I'm pretty sure the quote is Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you, but you know, sometimes you eat the bear, and, uh. Que sera, Sara?
posted by GregorWill at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


So say we all.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:30 AM on January 23, 2015


"In the long run we are all dead."
posted by chavenet at 8:39 AM on January 23, 2015


Or what I call Pontypool Moments.
maxsparber

Eh, I think Sara C. is right here. The people going on about terminating thought and logical fallacies are usually the ones spoiling for an argument so they can expound on their pet subject at length.

It's useful to have a polite way to exit these conversations, or to avoid fights with assholes in situations where it would be unwise to directly confront them.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:40 AM on January 23, 2015




I have loved "It is what it is" ever since my world weary 6 year old niece said it to me.

I've only heard it used in a business setting, where I read it as a sort of giving up, an acceptance of mediocrity. But its strange, because it only works one way. Your boss can say "it is what it is" to dismiss your concern, but is most unlikely to accept such a dismissal from you. So its very utterance becomes an expression of authority, one might even say privilege. It is often a tacit admission that the job you're all working on doesn't actually matter.

I hate the expression with an insane passion. I instantly lose respect for anyone who says it. I have successfully terrorized my loved ones into avoiding it in my presence. It is a completely perfect example of a thought-terminating cliche, I think.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like the Hannah Arendt quotation in the current Wikipedia article on Lifton's work:

When confronted with situations for which such routine procedures did not exist, he [Eichmann] was helpless, and his cliché-ridden language produced on the stand, as it had evidently done in his official life, a kind of macabre comedy. Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.

It's vaguely ironic and unambiguously unsettling that, when folks exhibit certain types of over-reliance on "standardized codes of expression and conduct", it's easy to subconsciously develop some rather Eichmannesque attitudes about those folks' humanity. Like: doges and dogettes, what are you adding, here, by sticking to your script? The obvious antidote is to remember that one never has this type of thought about people one knows really well, but it appears to be a fairly common pitfall.

Also, is there a closely-related category of action-terminating cliches? E.g., the Jesusian assertion about the poor always being with us (a special case of "it is what it is", maybe).
posted by busted_crayons at 9:18 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Syntactically similar, but miles away on the thought-terminating cliche scale.
posted by busted_crayons at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2015


The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away
posted by standardasparagus at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2015


YOLO
posted by svenni at 9:54 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seems to me that many of these are not terminating, but rather redirects.

And...oh look, a butterfly!
posted by CrowGoat at 9:58 AM on January 23, 2015


When someone says "it is what it is," answer: "Would [that] it were what it isn't."
[source]
posted by stinkfoot at 10:04 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:06 AM on January 23, 2015


I've only heard it used in a business setting, where I read it as a sort of giving up, an acceptance of mediocrity.

I also hate it, but I don't think I've heard it used by anyone in a position of authority - just by those on the downhill end* as a way to bypass lamenting their lot because they're too blasé to care. Interesting the different values we've associated with it.

*(As they say, "Shit rolls downhill.")
posted by psoas at 10:49 AM on January 23, 2015


It is often a tacit admission that the job you're all working on doesn't actually matter.

Eh, it can be that. I most often hear it as shorthand for "I have to choose my battles wisely, and this is not the hill I want to die on" or "that's a compromise we make even though it makes it less optimal for us, because it makes it easier for someone else and the project overall." Kind of like, "Ideally, we'd get everything we want, but that can't always be the case (for legitimate reasons)"
posted by ctmf at 11:20 AM on January 23, 2015


"I know, right?"

I can't beleive that one hasn't been mentioned. As a no-op utterance it gets used for all sorts of things, but mainly "I'm not really listening to you" and even "yeah, yeah, is it my turn to talk?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:29 AM on January 23, 2015


Que sera sera!

That song has been a demon earworm to me over the last couple months, so click with caution.

I love the fact that the page recognizes that "that's a thought terminating cliche" is itself a thought-terminating cliche.

RE: the phrase "it is what it is," when I've heard it said, it seemed tomean "this really sucks, but I'm not going to complain about it any further at this point, I'm going to accept the facts and go on." Not so much thought-terminating as complaining-terminating.
posted by edheil at 12:38 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Same as it ever was.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2015


I respond to the phrase "it is what it is" with "No, it's not." That usually ends the conversation.
posted by X4ster at 5:47 PM on January 23, 2015


I am the walrus.
posted by blue shadows at 6:38 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


*(As they say, "Shit rolls downhill.")

scum floats to the top
posted by telstar at 6:49 PM on January 23, 2015


George_Spiggott: ""I know, right?"

I can't beleive that one hasn't been mentioned. As a no-op utterance it gets used for all sorts of things, but mainly "I'm not really listening to you" and even "yeah, yeah, is it my turn to talk?"
"

I use, "I hear ya." It's literally true, I *do* hear the words you are saying! My opinion of them is left undescribed.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:37 AM on January 29, 2015


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