Tag Archives: fake etymology

Cassidese Glossary – Buccaneer

For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.

Daniel Cassidy, in his book How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that the word buccaneer comes from the supposed ‘Irish’ phrase boc aniar, meaning ‘a buck from the west’. There is no evidence for an Irish origin for buccaneer and the phrase boc aniar was invented by Cassidy.

Cassidy pretends that the origins of buccaneer are uncertain in order to make his claim a little more credible.

“All Anglo-American dictionaries derive the word buccaneer from an obscure French word boucanie [sic] meaning “one who hunts wild oxen” and cooks their meat on a boucan, or a barbecue, said to be from an unidentified Caribbean Native American word.  (E.B. Taylor, Early History of Man, 261; OED.)

Buccaneer as buckaneer is first found in the canting dictionaries of the 1690s. “Buckaneers, West-Indian Pirates … also the Rude Rabble in Jamaica.” (B.E.’s The Canting Crew Dictionary, London, 1690.)

In reality, boucan is first recorded in French in the year 1578 in the book Histoire d’un Voyage fait en la terre du Bresil, autrement dite Ammerique, where it is described as a “gril sur lequel les Indiens d’Amérique fumaient la viande” (grill on which the American Indians smoked meat).

The term boucanier is first used in French in the year 1654, where its meaning is described as “aventurier qui chassait les bœufs sauvages aux Antilles” (an adventurer who hunted wild oxen in the Antilles). From the start, there is plentiful evidence that people in the Caribbean believed that there was a link between boucanier and boucan (or bucanero and bucan in Spanish). There is no evidence of an Irish link and certainly no evidence that anyone was ever described as a boc aniar.


Moolah Isn’t Irish

I have just noticed a tweet put out by Shamrock Clubwis (Wisconsin Shamrock Club) on January the 12th.

Today’s slang word from the Irish language is “Moolah.”

Moolah comes from the Irish phrase, “Moll Oir,” meaning “a pile of gold.”

Thanks to Daniel Cassidy’s “How The Irish Invented Slang,” from 2007.

It’s unfortunate how this garbage just keeps on circulating, disappearing and then surfacing again like a dead rat in a blocked drain. No, there is no evidence that moolah has any connection with Irish. While Cassidy’s suggestion of moll óir is much better than his usual standard (at least the phrase could exist and doesn’t infringe any grammatical rules) there is precious little evidence of anyone, anywhere using this phrase. On Google, the one example I found was in relation to a taped interview with a native Irish speaker from Donegal. In a description of the contents of the audio, it talks about someone finding a pile of gold (moll óir) under a flagstone. However, listening to the actual audio, the phrase isn’t mentioned.

There are numerous theories about the origins of the word moolah, which first appears in America in the 1930s. The strongest suggestion, as far as I’m concerned, is the Spanish phrase (especially associated with Venezuela) bajáte de la mula, which literally means ‘get down off the mule’ and figuratively means ‘give me the money!’ Mula sounds exactly like moolah. (However, there are problems with this. See the comment from David Gold below.)

Moll óir, on the other hand, sounds like ‘moll oar’. In other words, it sounds absolutely nothing like moolah.


Tá mé díreach i ndiaidh tvuít a fheiceáil a chuir Shamrock Clubwis (Wisconsin Shamrock Club) suas ar Twitter ar an 12ú lá de mhí Eanáir.

Today’s slang word from the Irish language is “Moolah.”

Moolah comes from the Irish phrase, “Moll Oir,” meaning “a pile of gold.”

Thanks to Daniel Cassidy’s “How The Irish Invented Slang,” from 2007.

Ní thagann. Más féidir leat an Ghaeilge seo a léamh, beidh a fhios agat nach frása coitianta é “moll óir”. Agus níl an frása sin ar dhóigh ar bith cosúil le moolah, agus cé go bhfuil a lán teoiricí ann faoi bhunús an fhocail moolah, an ceann is fearr, is dócha, ná an frása Spáinnise (atá le cloisteáil go coitianta sa Veiniséala, de réir cosúlachta) “bajáte de la mula”, a chiallaíonn “tuirling den mhiúil” ach a bhfuil brí fháthchiallach leis, mar atá, “tabhair dom an t-airgead!”  Tá an focal mula go díreach cosúil le moolah, ní hionann agus moll óir. (Agus sin ráite, tá fadhbanna ag baint leis an tsanasaíocht seo fosta – féach na tuairimí thíos.)


It’s a terrible disgrace that there are a lot of people in the world of the Irish language who supported the con-artist Daniel Cassidy, author of the idiotic book How The Irish Invented Slang. For example, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was prepared to support him and described him as ‘our friend’. Joe Lee speaks Irish too. It seems that he supported this weak-minded book because of his friendship with friends of Cassidy’s. In the case of Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, it seems that he was responsible for providing teachers for the Gaeltacht Weekends in San Francisco. If he had criticised Cassidy, he would probably have lost whatever money and status is associated with that, because Cassidy’s supporters have the upper hand in the world of ‘Irish Studies’ in California.

Pól Ó Muirí is a journalist with the Irish Times. In an article which is still available here  (www.beo.ie/alt-leabharmheas-7.aspx), he praises Cassidy’s dim-witted efforts, though, apparently, he didn’t know Cassidy, unlike the people mentioned above. It is hard to understand why he would be prepared to praise rubbish like this. He says, for example, that there is sense to the theory proposed by Cassidy that buckaroo comes from the Irish phrase ‘bocaí rua’. Of course, bocaí rua makes no sense in Irish. Were the cowboys all ginger? And as everybody knows, buckaroo comes from the word vaquero, which means ‘cowboy’ in Spanish!  

He also says that John Wayne speaks the word clábar (Irish for mud or curdled milk) when referring to women being thick in the film True Grit. That much is true and the word clabber is a word of Gaelic origin, without doubt. What he doesn’t say (he probably hadn’t done any fact-checking at all) is that bonny-clabber and clabber came into the English language from Irish bainne clábair and clábar early in the 17th century. They were in common use in the English of England, America and the West Indies for hundreds of years when John Wayne used the term in True Grit. 

There is an interesting article on Wikipedia about the word Clabber:



A Christmas Warning/Rabhadh Nollag

You can still buy a copy of Cassidy’s puerile, silly book on Amazon for a couple of dollars. If there were any justice, this trashy, awful book would never have been published in the first place. However, it’s Christmas, the world is full of suckers, so we can expect a few copies to be sold to the naïve and credulous.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – if you give this book as a present, you are giving out a clear message about yourself. At least some of the recipients will find this blog or other negative reviews of this book. If they have any sense at all, they will realise that you are a total idiot, just like its author.

So, this Christmas, if you can’t think of anything to give people, don’t give this rubbish. Give a global gift from Trócaire or Oxfam or whatever the equivalent is where you live, or make a contribution to a charity on their behalf and put the receipt in a card. Give hope and help to people who need it, and say something positive about yourself.

Don’t give the gift of ignorance and lies this Christmas.


Is féidir leat cóip de leabhar páistiúil, amaideach Daniel Cassidy, How The Irish Invented Slang, ar chúpla dollar ar Amazon. Dá mbeadh an saol mar ba chóir dó a bheith, ní fhoilseofaí an leabhar bómánta seo riamh. Ach an Nollaig atá ann, tá an saol lán glasóg, agus is dócha go ndíolfar roinnt cóipeanna de le daoine saonta somheallta.

Tá sé ráite agam roimhe seo agus is fiú é a rá arís – má thugann tú an leabhar seo mar bhronntanas, is ionann sin agus teachtaireacht shoiléir a thabhairt faoin chineál duine atá ionat. Cuid de na daoine a fhaigheann an leabhar seo mar bhronntanas, tiocfaidh siad ar an bhlag seo nó ar léirmheasanna diúltacha eile ar an leabhar seo. Má tá ciall ar bith leo, tuigfidh siad nach bhfuil ionat ach bómán, go díreach cosúil le húdar an leabhair.

Mar sin de, an Nollaig seo, mura dtig leat smaoineamh ar rud ar bith le tabhairt mar bhronntanas, ná bac leis an raiméis seo. Tabhair bronntanas domhanda ó Trócaire nó Oxfam nó cibé rud den chineál atá ann san áit a bhfuil tusa i do chónaí, nó tabhair airgead do charthanas ar a son agus cuir an admháil i gcárta. Tabhair dóchas agus cuidiú do dhaoine a bhfuil dóchas agus cuidiú de dhíth orthu, agus abair rud éigin dearfach fút féin.

Ná bí ag bronnadh caimiléireachta agus aineolais ar do chairde agus do ghaolta an Nollaig seo.


Out of the hundreds of silly claims in Daniel Cassidy’s ludicrous book, How The Irish Invented Slang, few are sillier than his theory about the origins of the word rollicking. This is a word that makes its appearance in English for the first time in 1811. Cassidy says that the dictionaries say it is ‘of obscure origin’ but there seems to be a consensus that it is linked in some way to frolicking, which is of Dutch origin.

As usual with Cassidy’s work, all he has to offer is a vague similarity of sound. He says that this word comes from Irish rámhailleach, which is either an adjective or a verbal noun deriving from rámhaille, which means raving or ranting. The word rámhailleach is pronounced something like row-will-yah, so it really sounds nothing like rollicking. Also, the meaning is completely different. People have a rollicking good time all the time in English, but nobody every had ‘am maith rámhailleach’ (a raving good time). Rámhaille in Irish means that someone is mentally or physically ill. Rollicking is the very opposite.

As na céadta bómántacht a chum Daniel Cassidy agus a d’fhoilsigh sé ina leabhar amaideach How The Irish Invented Slang, is beag ceann acu atá chomh bómánta leis an méid a bhí le rá aige maidir le bunús an fhocail rollicking. Is focal Béarla é rollicking a taifeadadh den chéad uair sa bhliain 1811. Deir Cassidy go ndeir na foclóirí go bhfuil a bhunús doiléir, ach bíonn an chuid is mó de na scoláirí ar aon intinn go bhfuil nasc idir rollicking agus an focal frolicking, a fuair an Béarla ón Ísiltíris.

Mar is gnách le teoiricí Cassidy, níl fianaise le tairiscint aige ach go bhfuil focal sa Ghaeilge a mheasann sé a bheith cosúil leis an fhocal Béarla ó thaobh fuaime de. Deir Cassidy gur tháinig an focal seo ó rámhailleach na Gaeilge, a chiallaíonn caint gan chiall a dhéanamh agus tú tinn, ar meisce, as do mheabhair srl. Ar ndóigh, níl fuaim an fhocail rámhailleach ar dhóigh ar bith cosúil le rollicking, agus tá an chiall iomlán difriúil fosta. Is féidir ‘a rollicking good time’ a bheith agat i mBéarla. Ní féidir am maith rámhailleach a bheith agat i nGaeilge! Ciallaíonn rámhaille go bhfuil duine tinn nó as a mheabhair. Ciallaíonn rollicking a mhalairt ar fad.

More On The Motherfoclóir Podcasts

In a recent post, I criticised the Motherfoclóir podcasts associated with Darach Ó Séaghdha’s book Motherfoclóir. I am broadly in favour of Motherfoclóir. I like the Twitter feed it came from and the book itself was generally good, even if its research was sometimes shoddy (especially around etymological issues.)

After listening to a handful of the podcasts, I am afraid they are not for me. This is not entirely because of Motherfoclóir itself. It has more to do with a general dislike of the medium. Podcasts tend to be a bit of light-hearted chit-chat about some topic, with an incredibly low ratio of facts to padding. Many of them (Motherfoclóir’s included) remind me of the worst language-learning courses, where a simple phrase like “My name is” somehow occupies a whole lesson, while we are also introduced to characters and a situation and a jingle etc.. I have been immersed in languages and Irish and linguistics for decades. While the chit-chat on the podcasts is sometimes interesting, it rarely discusses anything I haven’t heard before and as I said in the last post, the material is sometimes suspect and even completely wrong (as in the Abhartach piece).

I was listening recently to the podcast about claims of a link between Irish and the Lost Tribes of Israel. (An interesting guest but I think they could have made the thing a lot more informative by asking the right questions. As a linguist, Hebrew is not Indo-European. Irish is Indo-European. Therefore they are not closely related and any supposedly similar words are probably coincidental. QED)

However, towards the end of this post, Ó Séaghdha suddenly starts talking about those of us who are very convinced that certain words DO NOT come from Irish. He argues that people who are dismissive of a particular Irish derivation “because of the way the burden of proof works, they can often be even more extreme than people who say it does.”

I don’t really know what he’s trying to say here with ‘because of the way the burden of proof works”. You could take it to mean that linguists and other people who actually present proof for their claims are a bunch of nasty, mean-spirited pedants who won’t let people delight in the odd fake factoid at dinner parties, but to take it like that would probably be the action of a nasty, mean-spirited pedant. What he probably means is that the burden of proof tends to work in favour of the consensus or most accepted opinion. This is undoubtedly true. There is less written material from the Irish language in the 19th century than there is for English, so Irish is less likely to leave evidence. However, using that as an excuse to stop demanding evidence isn’t making things better. It results in poor research and facts that aren’t facts.

Bizarrely, he uses the example of people saying that crack (craic) definitely doesn’t come from Irish. The reason why this is so bizarre is that there is plenty of evidence that crack was originally a northern English and Scottish term for conversation and that this was then Gaelicised as craic. I personally have no objection to people spelling it craic or using it as an Irish word. It is an Irish word. It’s just not a word of Irish origin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craic

However, the thing that really got my goat was when he started talking again about the Irish origin of the English word mucker. I presume part of this was probably aimed at me, though he must have been referring to some other critic as well because I never mentioned the Second World War. I have already dealt with this word and shown that the derivation from Irish is nonsense. However, here, rather than accepting that he got it wrong, Darach Ó Séaghdha goes further by saying that there are two words here, both pronounced mucker and both meaning mate, but having two completely separate etymologies. So when people say mucker in Ireland, it comes from Irish, but there is also a totally unrelated word with the same sound and meaning in England but ‘they’re different words and they’re different entries in the dictionary.’ Really? Which dictionary is that? Wiktionary arbitrarily gives different definitions for the military and civilian uses but gives the same English etymology for both. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mucker) The OED is quite clear that the military and civilian uses are the same and that they both (probably) derive from muck: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mucker

The truth of the matter is there is no evidence that mucker derives from Irish mo chara, however many people believe this to be the case. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that mucker does not come from Irish:

• Mucker is not principally or exclusively found in Ireland or in Irish communities in other countries. It is found in various parts of England and is attested there first. (In the 1940s)
• Mucker is often used in Ireland (and in England as well) to address people (how’s it going, mucker?) but mo chara is never used in this way by real Irish speakers. It’s always ‘a chara’ if you are addressing someone.
• Mo chara, if pronounced correctly, rhymes with Sahara. This would not be anglicised as mucker.
• The OED says that this is likely to come from the idea of mucking in or mucking about and does not recognise any Irish derivation.
• If mucker really came from Irish, you would expect this to be a long-held claim in Ireland. In fact, the earliest reference on Google (on Urban Dictionary) only dates back to 2007. No book on Hiberno-English or slang mentions any Irish link.

He then goes on to discuss the term shamus for a gumshoe, which has been claimed for both Irish and Yiddish. This is an interesting question. I’m inclined to agree with the article here (https://forward.com/articles/5064/bogie-speaks-yiddish/), but I think a proper, considered examination would be useful. (And I think David Gold’s input would be welcome!)

My advice to Ó Séaghdha would be this:

• Do your research carefully so that you avoid falling into any holes.
• If you do fall into a hole, climb out. Don’t start digging.

The Motherfoclóir Podcast

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about the book called Motherfoclóir. In that post, I stated that while I generally approved of Darach Ó Séaghdha’s book about the Irish language, I felt it was marred by some extremely sloppy research.

Over the last week, I have listened to a couple of podcasts by Ó Séaghdha and the Motherfoclóir team. The first one was a Halloween-themed post called The Vampirish For. You can find it here: https://player.fm/series/motherfocloir/ep-62-62-the-vampirish-for

This podcast started well. It criticised the ludicrous claims made about the Irish origin of Dracula, which some fools have tried to link to an Irish phrase ‘Drochfhola’, supposedly meaning bad blood. He pours scorn on this claim and describes it as bullshit. Quite right too.

However, the podcast then shows the same lack of common sense and proper research which made the book so unsatisfactory. I have dealt here with the fake claims about Abhartach, supposedly a vampire chieftain who lived in a mountainous area of Derry. As I have stated here, the genuine story of Abhartach describes this evil chieftain returning from the dead. He is later killed with a yew-wood sword and buried upside-down with a huge rock over his body.

Starting about twenty years ago, a revisionist version of this story appeared, claiming that Abhartach demanded the blood of his subjects and that he was described as a neamh-mharbh and a dearg-diúlaí.

So, this piece about Abhartach on Ó Séaghdha’s podcast is basically a rerun of what was wrong with the etymological section of the book. There is one piece of bogus information denied, then a welter of ignorant nonsense lifted from untrustworthy sources without the least attempt to establish the truth. To be fair to Ó Séaghdha, it is a guest of his who recounts this story. They probably lifted much of this nonsense about Abhartach from Wikipedia, which has a longish article on the subject. It looks credible on first inspection but anyone with any common sense would quickly realise that it has huge holes in it.

For one thing, it claims that Bob Curran is a lecturer in Celtic History and Folklore at the University of Ulster. There is no department of Celtic History and Folklore at the UU. I believe Curran is a Child Psychologist by profession and I am told that he has never been a lecturer, though he may have taught evening classes. History Ireland is not a peer-reviewed journal. You only have to read Curran’s article in it to realise that.

Also, I’m willing to bet the PSNI never decided to dig up a listed ancient monument to solve a local murder, and according to Curran, a man got a cut hand when a chainsaw broke during an attempt to uproot the thorn bush. In this piece of fantasy, the man’s hand is cut clean off by the curse of Abhartach! Do me a favour!

Of course, I don’t believe that Abhartach was a real person. That’s not the point. The point is that folklore is interesting and is a legitimate field of study, with its own methodology. Embellishing and inventing to make the story ‘better’ is not part of that methodology. In Patrick Weston Joyce’s story, Abhartach died and came back and then had to be stopped by supernatural means. He wasn’t a vampire. About twenty years ago, Abhartach suddenly became a vampire because Peter Haining and Peter Tremayne and Bob Curran said so. But where did that claim come from? Where’s the reference, the evidence? Until I see something from a recorded folk-tale or a magazine or a book predating these authors, Abhartach is a revenant, not a vampire. That’s what the original story says.

And let’s face it, if he wasn’t a vampire, he really has fuck all to do with Dracula.

There were other bits that were even stupider. Apparently Stoker’s notes contained no books on Transylvania and no mention of Vlad Dracul. Nonsense! Stoker copied some information from William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia about Vlad III. He also set the first part of the book in Transylvania and makes it quite clear that his Count isn’t Irish. And if it’s true that Stoker had a copy of PW Joyce’s History of Ireland in his library, that is completely irrelevant, because that book doesn’t contain any reference to Abhartach or to any supposed Irish vampires.

The second podcast was even worse. You can find it here: https://www.headstuff.org/motherfocloir/45-2-mailbag-2-furious/

The description said that it was a mailbag edition, in which Daniel Cassidy’s legacy would be discussed, so I was keen to hear it.

A few minutes into the podcast, an anonymous critic writes that he likes the book and the podcast of Motherfoclóir and has been trying to learn a little Irish over the last year. He says that he is a writer and musician from the Irish-American community and that he is from New York. His initials are TW. He says that he has a bone of contention, namely the way that Motherfoclóir dismissed Cassidy’s revolutionary theory about the Irish origins of slang. Plainly, from the details given, this is an Irish-American mediocrity called Terence Winch.

Winch is typical of the pompous dimwits who support Cassidy. “I am not sure all his examples would hold up to academic scrutiny but that does not mean to say that his overall theory is completely flawed.” In other words, Winch is insisting on ignoring all the evidence on this blog and elsewhere, because he believes that there are only a few bad apples in Cassidy’s barrel. The reality is that not only is there no baby in Cassidy’s bathwater, there isn’t even anything that looks like a rubber duck, floats like a rubber duck and might just vaguely, possibly be a rubber duck. I have examined most of Cassidy’s nonsense here and shown why his derivations are fake. Winch is welcome to take up the challenge I have issued to the rest of the tribe of Dan. Let’s see if you can offer ten words from Cassidy’s work where any reasonable person would regard Cassidy’s explanation as convincing (i.e. where the Irish origin really exists and there isn’t a better explanation from English or some other language). Good luck with that!

I was disappointed with Darach Ó Séaghdha’s response to Terence Winch, which was, to say the least, a bit weasel-wordy. In the original book, Ó Séaghdha had criticised Cassidy’s book (before going off into the realms of etymological fantasy himself). In his reply to Winch on the podcast, he states that Cassidy has been described as the Andrew Wakefield of linguistics. I don’t know who said that, but I agree with it 100%. (Except, perhaps, that Wakefield was a real doctor who was struck off. Cassidy never had any qualifications in the first place.)

Ó Séaghdha then goes on to say that Cassidy just got it a bit wrong but that’s fine and he finds the hostility against Cassidy hard to understand and it is false to say that Cassidy was a con-man or a trickster. I think it’s quite clear from this that Ó Séaghdha has never read much of this blog. I also suspect that Ó Séaghdha has never read Cassidy’s book either, because he insists that Cassidy thought the English word jazz came from Irish deas (nice). If he had read the book properly, he would know that Cassidy claimed it came from teas (heat) – though confusingly, Cassidy also thought teas was pronounced as deas in Ulster Irish, information supplied to him by his principal source of enlightenment, his own arse.

Ó Séaghdha couldn’t be more wrong about Cassidy’s dishonesty. Cassidy was obviously a criminal fake. He ‘worked’ for twelve years as a professor in a university on the strength of his ‘education’ at Cornell and Columbia. As his sister (and then the Cornell registrar) informed me, Cassidy failed his degree at Cornell and never went to Columbia. Even Cassidy’s friends and supporters have not tried to challenge these facts or offer any evidence to the contrary or excuses for his criminal behaviour.

However, the worst evidence of Cassidy’s dishonesty is in the book itself. ‘Irish’ definitions were imagined, rewritten, miscopied, and ‘figurative’ meanings invented. Hundreds of completely fake phrases were invented by Cassidy.

That is (one of the reasons) why Winch’s comment is so stupid. He seems to be implying that linguists are being obtuse and difficult (because, apparently, they are ‘threatened by’ Cassidy) because they refuse to accept Cassidy’s candidate Irish phrases on the grounds that there is no contemporary evidence of these phrases crossing between the Irish language and English slang. This is not the issue.

Linguists and etymologists reject the overwhelming majority of Cassidy’s ‘Irish’ phrases not because there’s no evidence of them crossing from Irish but because they never existed in Irish. Nobody ever said that béal ónna meant nonsense in Irish until Cassidy made it up, nobody ever used comhroghna to mean friend or companion, foluach doesn’t exist as a way of saying a rare reward, leathluí géag and liú lúith and gus óil and sách úr and píosa theas and hundreds of other pieces of nonsense in Cassidy’s book are simply fantasy. Cassidy never provided any evidence that any of this rubbish existed and linguists shouldn’t waste their time and energy on the fantasies of a dishonest lunatic. Terence Winch should have known this, because I wrote a blog post answering his post of 2007 and explaining that all the words he provided as examples from Cassidy’s work are fake. I suppose it’s possible he’s never Googled himself but … mneh … Plainly, he isn’t ready to stop this nonsense. You can read my post here: https://cassidyslangscam.wordpress.com/tag/terence-winch/

There is another thing which irritated me. In the same podcast where Winch’s nonsense was discussed, there was a discussion of people misspelling Irish names and leaving off the accents. This is something that irritates me too, but it seems a bit rich to complain about this as a matter of respect and identity, while simultaneously, on the same podcast, saying that it’s perfectly OK for some random Yank to invent hundreds of phrases in our language, a language he had never made any attempt to learn, and try to pass it off as fact. It isn’t. It’s an insult to our culture and language and identity, and fatheads like Terence Winch should be told in no uncertain terms that intellectual debate should be conducted on the basis of the evidence, not on the basis of how good a friend-of-a-friend Cassidy was or who happens to be on Winch’s Christmas-card list.

However, I hope my American friends (who are self-deprecating, intelligent and reasonable) will forgive me for saying that there is more to this. It seems to me that there is a poisonous strain of arrogance in modern American culture. I found an interesting article by Tom Nichols here which chimes with my theory: (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-real-reason-americans-cant-agree-on-unemployment-or-just-about-anything-else-2017-03-29):

This isn’t just human nature, but the result of a narcissism that took root in American society after the 1960s and has been growing ever since. Surrounded by affluence, enabled by the internet, and empowered by an educational system that prizes self-esteem over achievement, Americans have become more opinionated even as they have become less informed, and are now utterly intolerant of ever being told they’re wrong about almost anything.”

This, I feel, is what’s happening here. Admitting you got it wrong simply isn’t a valued part of modern American culture, and people like Winch have no interest in learning the truth if the truth means admitting they were duped.

Whether that is the case or not, one thing that both of these podcasts show very clearly is that once fake memes are released into the wild, it’s almost impossible to stop them from eclipsing the truth. That’s why the Rubberbandits behaved like total dicks in relation to the list of fake Irish derivations they spread on social media. Once the genie is out of the bottle, or Abhartach out of his tomb drinking blood, it’s impossible to put them back again. Falsehoods with a good story behind them always outstrip the truth. Motherfoclóir is well-placed to try and restrain some of those falsehoods. Instead, because of poor research and intellectual laziness and a fear of strapping on a pair and offending arrogant American fans of Cassidy like Terence Winch, they are helping to spread this worthless fakery rather than challenging it properly.