The Virute in Lying:Why the Bullshitting Idiot is far more criminal than the Criminal

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by gendanken, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    The Virute in Lying: The Bullshitting Idiot is far more criminal than the Criminal

    This is a thread
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2005
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  3. Roman Banned Banned

    I think a pretty solid argument could be made that we're all kindergartners scribbling out the universe with crayon, foolishly explaining what it all means from our limited experience.

    Maybe pop down to the physics and math forum sometime...?
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  5. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    But a scientist knows that all his explanations are falsifiable.
    Those that bullshit have no such conviction.

    The bullshitter read it in Science! and therefore is it. Or saw it on the Disovery Channel! and therefore is it.

    Why don't you pop down and show me those that don't fall under those two sentences up there but do under the last one and I'll show a toilet's worth of real Bullshit.

    You're missing the point. I'm not saying somthing like sceince is not based on believeing where one cannot prove- what? You've seen an electron?
    Who has?
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  7. Roman Banned Banned

    Missing what point? That you're aggravated that some people aren't self-doubting whores? That making up stories is really alright for most of us?

    That the search for truth is boring and lame and so Greek that no one cares anymore? Wasn't there some guy who said truth doesn't exist, anyway?
  8. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    No, fucker.

    That even if something like science is wrong about the earth being flat or a dodecagon or the shape of your mullet, the truth is that it has some shape.

    That shape is a truth which we verified conclusively once man looked down from a space capsule.

    Science spent its nascent years bullshitting. Only by quitting that practice could we we progress towards something closer to truth even if not it.
  9. Roman Banned Banned

    What about the scientist who has spent all his year studying {X}, and when {Y} is discovered, it reveals {Z} which contradicts {X}. Then all kinds of bullshit is thrown around. Men making up stories to explain phenomena under the old model, and making up stories is really what it is.

    Science is rife with this, from Aristotle right up to the guy who discovered X-Rays and Stephen J. Gould (rest his niche-y soul).
  10. devils_reject Registered Senior Member

    Every idea depends on how many people accepts it, thats when it goes from bullshit to truth.
  11. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    Hello, Gendanken.
    Interesting topic. One which opens up various areas of discussion.
    A short list is:
    1.) The nature of truth.
    2.) The nature of lying.
    3.) The nature of conscience.
    4.) The nature of morals.
    5.) That ability in man to find patterns and order where none exist or the facts are in short supply.
    6.) The nature of language itself which makes such 'bullshitting' possible.

    And I'm sure there are other angles as well that could be taken from your topic. Other roads to walk.
    I'm unsure where to begin and which to concentrate upon. I don't want to overwhelm with my first post, but I'm afraid that I won't be able to restrain myself. You know the score. I write. You read. Pick and choose which are relevant to the topic you wish to discuss.

    First a couple of quotes:
    Counting cards? No. I think you've picked the wrong metaphor here. This would be more of a confidence racket. Conning the chips directly rather than through a skill such as counting cards. A small point, yes. But, just thought I'd mention it.

    True Gendanken style.
    Jim Jones.
    Please explain why you'd classify him as a virtuous criminal on par with Robin Hood. Is there a particular reason why you chose him? And, why do you say you're not only speaking about them? I don't see how they relate at all to the liar in your examples. I suppose Jim Jones more than Robin Hood, but I don't think that Jones viewed his lies as harmless. His motives were of a completely different sort than your virtuous liar.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say, if anything, he's more an example of a bullshitter than a virtuous liar. And, in this, one can see the progression from purposeful lying to others, then to self, then getting carried away in the bullshit. No one can know what went through Jim Jones' mind during his last moments of life (other than that bullet, of course... Fucking coward.) but he seems to have fallen for his own rhetoric, don't you think?

    Charles Manson would also fit into this category.

    And this leads to a wholly new topic. The topic of leaders vs followers. Neither Jim Jones nor Charles Manson could have ever deluded themselves as far as they managed to without the aid of those who believed their lies to begin with. Those gullible and needy enough to not only accept their divinity, but to demand it.

    We've discussed this before. Remember the scene in Pink Floyd's The Wall where Pink's voice blaring out over the loudspeaker gets overwhelmed by the voice of the mob? The mob that he whipped up into a fury with his demagoguery. But, he tapped into something primal. Something which he could not control. Something which controlled him as well as the others.

    Perhaps this ties into what I later have to say about con-men lying subjectively in order to gain confidence. They trick their way into those ancient avenues of trust and devotion. But, sometimes they do their job too well and find they're not immune.

    In other words, the lying bullshitter is even lying and bullshitting himself?
    I'll come back to this when I discuss the nature of lying.

    Know something?
    I had selected some quotes here and there to comment on, but I am now thinking that my doing so is unnecessary.
    You specifically limit the discussion to a 'virtuous' liar. One who feels guilt for lying. One who is plagued by conscience.
    Is this correct? You thus discount the nonvirtuous liars?
    What of the liars who lie to themselves so that they don't lie to you?

    I'll touch on these later. Let me go through and weed out the extraneous quotes now.

    A wee bit of a tricky phrase here.
    It can mean one of two things. Either the thing that the mind is scurrying away from is the truth that is being obscured... or the guilty feeling for obscuring a truth.
    Which is it?

    And what do you mean by 'the sake of advantage'? That the lie itself is said only to gain some type of advantage over another? Or possibly even of the self?

    Another semi-obscure phrase. Mostly the part about 'his public'. At first I thought you meant the person that he's hiding the truth from. But perhaps you mean something else? As if he were almost split inside himself? Hiding the truth even from himself (one aspect of himself) while putting it on full display in another?
    My first thought was probably the proper one, yes?
    The second comes to mind mainly because I've been considering the 'good liar' who lies to himself above all. Therefore, he's his own 'public'. In a way.

    No need of truth? If he has no need of truth then why even make up stories?
    This goes towards both the nature of truth and the nature of man.

    In place of Authority.
    I can understand that.
    But what about in other places?
    You're speaking of those who instill their bullshit into others. Your parents indoctrinating you with their religious bullshit. I have had several teachers who I would classify as bullshitters too. Although, it's difficult to discern a bullshitter from a liar.

    You introduce a new dynamic with this. Although it is also the dynamic with your parents swallowing their religion and believing it fully.
    This is Dogma rather than Bullshit.

    1.) The nature of truth.
    You speak of truth as if it were some thing that can be objectively determined. And, in some cases it is, but not in all and this is where the difficulty comes in.

    Shit. I'm trying to keep these all neat and tidy, but they all blend together.
    For instance, that sentence up there on the difficulty of defining truth leads directly to the problems with language.

    So. Why is it so difficult to discern truth? Well. Ask the question: "What is truth"? There's a sticky question, isn't it? Or is it? By sheer coincidence, I was reading up on this and that and it led me to Wittgenstein and his Philosophical Investigations. I haven't read, but I MUST. The teaser that I did read dealt with many philosophical problems not being problems with philosophy at all, but rather with the language in which the philosophy is discussed.

    Take the question: "What is beauty?" Now. That's an even stickier question than "What is Truth" eh? But. Is it? Or is it a grammatical error instead?

    Because of the nature of language. Because of the way concepts are modularized into words and we have this system of interchangeable parts, we come across these instances where a part seems to fit into a structure in a certain way, but in so doing seems to present us with a philosophical quandary. But, it's not a quandary at all but a misuse of the language.

    Do you see? Have you read Philosophical Investigations yourself?

    Could the question "What is truth" be of the same type of grammatical error?
    And... I'd say yes. Sometimes.

    And now we slide gently back into the nature of truth.

    What is truth?
    Is it some thing that we can hold in our hands? Something that can be defined in an objective way? Or is it something that is wholly abstract and utterly dependent upon the interpretive mechanism of the observer of said truth?

    It's both.
    Truth is both objective and subjective and this is the difficulty inherent in defining truth.

    You've given examples of forms of objective truth. The Earth is round. The diesel engine operates in a certain fashion. The human heart weighs between 250 and 350 grams (a truth of my own.) These are all examples of objective truths. They are things that are real and are not really open to interpretation (although this isn't literally true. Every sensory input we receive is interpreted greatly. This is a consequence of the way our minds work and it's impossible to get around.)

    I think we can fault the bullshitter who pretends to this sort of technical knowledge which he doesn't have. And, in most cases, this type of bullshitter won't be able to get far in his bullshitting as technical knowledge is not subject to intuition or luck (usually). Eventually, unless the bullshitter (liar) is a magnificent con-man, he will be found out... Well. Maybe not. It all depends on who he lies to, does it not? If he attempts to trick the knowledgeable, as your inspiration for this thread did with her paper, then eventually (usually sooner than later) he will be caught. But, if he instead lies to the unknowledgeable... well then. The con can go on practically forever.... depending on how well he plays the confidence game...

    I'm digressing.

    There is another form of truth. Subjective truth. And this form of truth is a whole lot slimier than objective truth. The question "What is beauty" slips into this category, but let's forgo the grammatical error and make it "What is beautiful in the female form". Or "Why are apples tasty?" Or "What is the meaning of life?" "Is there a god?" (I suppose all these are grammatical errors as well, if you think about it. I suppose that beauty is personal and thus the question must ask why is the female form (or whatever) beautiful to a specific person rather than in general... Hmm. And what of the question of god?)

    These are truths with no... objective reality. They don't exist in the world in a 'true' way. They are abstractions and thus unique to the observer.


    So. Given subjective truth. How is one to call oneself a liar? Is it possible to lie when it comes to subjective truths? I suppose it is. If one feels one way but says or acts differently. If one likes the tastes of apples but says that he hates them and spits them out of his mouth should he ever take a bite of one. This would be lying about subjective truth. I'm sure there are other examples, perhaps you can give some. You're good with coming up with such things. Analogies. Metaphors. But, the point is that these are truths which are not subject to verification in the same way as objective truths.

    Your parents' belief in God falls into a subjective category. Although I have no doubt that there are both objective and subjective qualities about such a belief structure. Therefore, they overlook those aspects that can be tested and verified in favor of those which exist solely in the 'spiritual' realm and are not subject to being disproven. Perhaps they even do so purposefully. I'm sure they've purposefully overlooked things which make them question their faith.

    This adds an element of complexity to the whole affair. Religion is a complex belief structure and no blanket statement is able to fully encompass it or its practitioners.

    Anyway. I have a strong suspicion that most of those you'd call 'bullshitter' would fall into the subjective truth category. It is this type of truth that lends itself to confabulation. That shows again and again that it is difficult if not impossible to disprove. And thus stands the test of time long enough to become traditional.

    Try disproving God. This is the strength in the subjective forms of truth. There can be no experimental data for or against most forms of subjective truth.

    Alright. Onto:
    2.) The nature of lying.
    You've given an account of what it is to lie. But, you've purposefully limited the account of lying to the 'virtuous' liar. In which case much of this section will be unnecessary. I had intended to expand upon the difference between good liars and bad (not moral differences, but competency in their craft.) And also between the liars who 'mean no harm' and those who do.

    So. This will be short then. I can't completely not mention them.

    First. I have to say that I like this idea you have of discerning the truth behind the lie by testing fortifications. Reminds me of the game Stratego. In this game, you try to find the enemy's flag amongst all his pieces. To do so, you send out your pieces to attack his. Only in the attack do the pieces show what they are. And you figure out where the flag is either by random chance (bad playing) or by finding the best defended spot on the board.

    Of course, this method of determining where the flag is is well known and therefore there are counterstrategies of defending an empty portion of the board while having the flag somewhere else entirely practically undefended...

    The difference between good liars and bad liars.
    I'd say that the virtuous liar you've made the centerpiece of your tale is almost by definition a bad liar. He doesn't expect to succeed in his lies. And he feels guilty about the lies to begin with. This guilt will leave tell-tale signs for the observant and will lead to the discovery of the lie should the matter be pressed. A bad liar might either defend his flag too well. Or not at all. He might place his flag on the front row and be constantly fiddling with it before the game even begins.

    A good liar would be one who either feels no guilt over the matter. Or one who doesn't believe he's lying at all. Good liars lie to themselves so they won't have to lie to you. They convince themselves of the 'truth' of their lie and they hide away the bit of truth you're seeking to find where even he can't find it. The liar who lies even to himself has no flag to find. He's removed it from play altogether.

    Also, there are liars who lie malevolently. Who seek to harm others with their lies. Who, for one reason or another, revel in the pain they cause. Gain satisfaction and worth from the lie. I think this type would also be difficult to spot with your method as they would most likely be the type of liar who would hide their flag in plain sight and lead you off on a merry chase through more and more lies. Where she stops, nobody knows.

    Blending the nature of liars with the nature of truth, I'd say that purposeful liars generally only have to lie when it comes to objective truth. They blend the little they do know with the lot they don't and attempt to fool the listener into believing that they know more than they do. How well this is carried off depends on circumstances. The listener. The liar. The truth. The lie.

    Or. Perhaps it's the subjective lying which lends... what? A con-man doesn't con with his technical knowledge. He sprinkles in enough technical mumbo-jumbo to make things seem official, but... his lies are more subjective aren't they? He lies about his own nature. The things he believes in. It is subjective lying that makes him slippery.

    3.) The nature of conscience and morals.
    I suppose I've already dealt with both of these in the above paragraphs dealing with the nature of lying.
    To be honest, your mention of Conscience perked my ears up while reading your opening post. I had some things that I thought to bring to the table on Conscience, but... on further thought have decided that they aren't exactly on topic and will therefore abstain.

    4.) That ability in man to find patterns and order where none exist or the facts are in short supply.
    It is this, I feel, that you do the most injustice with your decree against bullshitting.
    I can surely understand your anger or disgust at bullshitters, but in completely decrying the whole tradition, you deny a large percentage of what makes man man.

    We, as humans are inheritors of a mind which seeks patterns. You and I have discussed this before and I don't feel I need to go into too much detail here. It's rather self-evident. This pattern-finding instinct was and is a survival benefit in a world that keeps changing. We don't have such strong instincts as the baser animals and must rely upon our minds and learned behaviors far more than any other animal.

    Early man had no ideas on how the earth worked. How anything worked. He was a creature of instinct. And as he evolved, his mind grew and his frontal lobe expanded. Allowing him to begin to... perceive the world in ways which other animals are unable. No. It wasn't the nature of his perceptions that changed. But what he did with them. This swelling front lobe is not a sensory lobe, but an associative one. It deals only with in-house data. It deals only with in-brain data. The frontal lobe allows us to slip the firm objective connections loose and find new connections where none are obvious to the objective viewer.

    One of the main functions of the frontal lobe is the focusing of attention. For instance, OCD's are often a result of frontal lobe damage. The swelling of the frontal lobe allows us to... shift our attention from objects in a way which make them more... symbolic. In other words, we shift our attention from the objects themselves and the relationships which the objects have between themselves on an objective level to our mental representations of those objects and the interrelationship of our representations. This is made especially apparent in the modularity of words.

    To an autistic, the world is objective and full of objective things. Things to touch, hold, see, remember. Truths. The autistic world is a world of truth.

    But, to a fully functioning human mind, we make associations with objects that are not 'true' in the literal, objective sense of the word. We abstract the object from itself and make it represent other things. Other objective things, and, more importantly, subjective things.

    We build up a system of symbology in so doing. Language.

    (A question remains. Which came first. Language or symbology? The question of the roots of human intelligence are just as perplexing now as they've always been. And perhaps always will be.)

    I think the modular nature of language definitely allowed certain types of abstractions which would have been impossible without.
    If one has no concept of 'man' in general, then how can one conceive of an abstract ideal for a 'man in the sky'?

    Back to the autistic. Do you remember how Temple Grandin explained how her memory works? When she hears the word dog, she doesn't have this abstract, general idea of a dog. She goes back to specific instances of dog. One after the other. She can change the way they're listed. Chronologically. By name. By color. Size. Etc... It is from the specific to the general with her. But, I thin she doesn't really understand what the 'general' means. I think she has a poor idea and only her use of language allows her to fool herself into thinking she does. The same with her concept of religion, by the way...

    Anyway. With normal humans, it's just the opposite. When we hear dog, we have this vague general category of dog. Which can then be filled by various examples of dog. We go from the general to the specific.

    See all that?
    Would you call it bullshit?
    It was definitely a bit free-flowing and associative. I've gone back and cleaned it up somewhat, but not entirely.

    I had a point when I began speaking of autistics going from the specific to the general. It's that it's the general which makes much of modern man's marvels possible. It's our abstractions that allow us to slide concepts around in order to see how they fit here. Then here. Then here.

    It is this that you call bullshitting.
    It is this that you are decrying.

    More to the point of what your complaint seems to result in with your example of your parents and their religious views is more of a dogma than bullshitting. It's that your parents and their parents and their parents before have made what was once bullshit (i.e. free-forming associations) into something solid and dogmatic.

    An invulnerable structure composed of nothing but air.

    It's not the associative principle that you should find fault with, but the dogmatic one.
    It's not that man has a wonderful imagination which is capable of seeing the world in so many more ways than is apparent to the purely objective mindset, but rather the tendency of those without this imagination to do the same themselves.

    Your parents didn't create religion. They hardly interpret it, in fact. They inherited it. And through the years of tradition and dignity this construct of pure abstraction which does, despite its many flaws serve valid purposes here and there, has been solidified into something that is dead. Something set in stone. Just as the 10 commandments were carved into the stone of a mountainside, so has the dogma of religion been carved into the stone of your parents hidebound minds.

    It's not association or bullshit that is the problem.
    It's the stone in which it has been entrenched.

    Long enough for you?
    You know how it goes when the associations start flowing.
    I really need to learn to use a blue pencil one of these days.
  12. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    No, see that's just the thing, it really isn't interesting at all.
    Gendanken's become a femme-tiassa, ie: as boring as dog shit, with a vagina.

    Fuck you gendanken, and fuck you invert for encouraging her. Thread locked.
  13. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    And what do you know about it?
    You've never been good for much but flame wars and animal-kissing, ain't it?
    Isn't there an animal somewhere needing kissed?
    Or a flame-war that needs tending to (not here. Here's a good one for you: Freshly moved to the cesspool for your convenience.)
  14. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Organized Christianity is 40 thousand denominations and counting strong.
    This means that, for you, a hairy little Jew named Jesus is also true.

    This also means that for you its also true that Dr. Lou you see hanging in my thread like a fucking buger is my bitch because everyone knows I’m his gynecologist.

    Read it again-
    Now read the three little words you slipped in there- making up stories.

    When Kepler found that his calculations of Mars’ orbit did not fit in with Tycho’s data, did he “make up stories” or question his premise?
    The same with Galileo, Bruno, Da Vinci, Darwin, and Einstein.

    Darwin was so loyal to what he felt was truth he even feared to conclude the inevitable- that we evolved as all animals have- that he called it ‘murder’.

    Do these men come off to you like an idiot fumbling his way through an explanation by resorting to his feelings or other’s opinions, like, say, mother or my ancient friend Dr. Lou?
    Never experimenting to prove or falsify what they’re claiming and so stuck on pet theories that the little Z would blow up their whole bloody system instead of teaching them new pesepctives?
    This is what makes those that simply bullshit so damn difficult.
    This is why something like mother is torture.

    So if men like those do not fit those categories then …like, shut up.

    At any rate, I’m not saying all scientists live up to the name, I'm not even talking about scientists, dear, you are.

    But while at it, I’m not saying sciece is it or the truth either, but I doubt you’d let a mystic fly your plane with his feelings.

    Missed a spot, my whore.

    You giggle and squeak like a sweet little Japanese girl getting wet over Justin Timbelake and Feng Shui in my thread, and I'm the one with a vagina?

    Holy mother of Christ.

    That's huge post.

    "You speak of truth as if it were some thing that can be objectively determined"

    In terms of finding the truth among lies, absolutely. Its Roman here that slipped science in.
    Never seen an atom, never seen electrons, photons, quark, or for that matter a single memory relayed thorugh my hippocampus but I have no other way of expaling what I think is there.

    Science is thereofre as faith based as any another ism but that’s beside the point, you people have a way of getting bloody sidetracked.
    You’re going to require another post, Ramblelina.

    I also have power issues here due to Katrina.
  15. Roman Banned Banned

    So what you're saying:
    There are purposeful lies where a truth is known and purposely held secret. A lie of omission or... I'm losing my vocab the more I drink. What's the word for hiding something? Discretion? Can't think, whatever.

    Then there are the sort of lies told just to tell them, making something up and pushing it forward as truth, simply for the sake of pretend.

    Is this basically what you said in all those words?
    (and by the way, Invert, you typed so much, I wrote it all off as bullshit and didn't bother reasing it. think you could hook me up with some spark notes, brah?)

    I inadvertantly brought up science (pointing to the arcane masters hashing out stories that will be quaint footnotes in a century),a nd then you challengend me on it and then I think I mocked you. But whatver I'll take credit for the attempted deraila t your thread.

    I'm pretty good at bullshitting. Really good, actually. Mostly verbally, in academic settings. Most of it comes off because my voice sounds like I know what I'm talking about.

    I also like to get drunk and try to explain sine curves to my highschool dropouut friends.


    I think I'm gonn a o puke.
  16. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
    I did write a long ass post.
    I did apologize.
    And I also broke it down into categories to make it easier to go through it.

    The prime areas to read, in my opinion, are 1 and 4. And, of course, the however.

    However, they all do tie together...
    I really need to figure out how to edit my writing...
    It'd probably be easier to do on paper rather than on the computer screen.
  17. water the sea Registered Senior Member


    There are no unified critieria for what truthfulness is, or how to arrive at truth.
    Hypothesizing, experimenting and testing (both in science as in everyday life) is the process usually valued most. But science also meticulously shows how internally relativistic this process is, so we only get relativistic truths with it. Or Pavlovian effects.

    As it recently occured to me, with humans, truth is what is deemed important.

    When people value something as important, they tend to call it truth. This whole notion of some absolute truth, a truth that can be arrived at and that never changes, this is a residue of idealistic objectivist philosophies.

    "Truth" is when statement S of person A and the interpretation of person B are in alignment, or in a manageable relationship (when it is in the knowledge and ability scope of B to accept, with some additional inquiry, S as truthful).

    Otherwise, we have suspension of both belief and disbelief, and when we react emotionally and ethically to this suspension, we get to say that something was a lie (ie. when we express that a particular value has been disrespected in a statement).

    * * *

    But otherwise, I don't know what your problem is here. To me, it is essentially about some people haing character, and some not.
  18. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    I'm probably going to delete my earlier post and repost a shorter version with the less important material removed.
    So. Just in case you have a half-finished reply or something, Gendanken, let me know. I'll save a copy of the original post, just in case.

    That's for later.
    For now, I've been going back over my notes for The Golden Bough and I found this that I thought you might find interesting.
    I'll post it without commentary. I think it should stand on its own.

  19. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    But science also meticulously shows how internally relativistic this process is, so we only get relativistic truths with it.

    That is wrong, you don't get 'truths' from science.

    As it recently occured to me, with humans, truth is what is deemed important

    Truth is relative therefore it's importance means sqaut.
  20. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    Then why do you go around doing as if your truth were better than other people's?

    What else do you have to go by other than your opinion?
  21. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Then why do you go around doing as if your truth were better than other people's?

    I never have. I don't deal in truths.

    What else do you have to go by other than your opinion?

    Much more than you are able to comprehend.
  22. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    You criticize theists all the time.
    This implies that you assume to know better; that your truth is superior to theirs.

    There goes your assumed superiority again.
  23. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    You criticize theists all the time.

    They're mindsets are vile and comtemptuous, you've shown us that yourself in this and other threads.

    This implies that you assume to know better; that your truth is superior to theirs.

    I told you already, I don't deal in truths. I have done little more than expose the contradictions of religion and how it will ultimately lead to our extinction.

    There goes your assumed superiority again.

    It has nothing to do with superiority, it is common sense, something you can't comprehend.

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