I had a bloke called Sheldon (?) remind me of all the dodgy characters who have created superficially respectable names for their nefarious activities. He was an ‘antivaxxer’ (i.e. an anti-vaccination activist) and referred to a group calling themselves ‘Physicians for Informed Consent’. The people involved in this group are not all physicians, nor are they very much about informing people. The phrase, ‘informed consent’ as used in real medicine, is the process of getting permission from the patient (or their guardian) to proceed with medical treatment or to participate in a medical trial, based on a clear understanding of what that entails, including the risks1. However, in the anti-vaccination world, it is code for their assertion that all sorts of risks are being covered up with regard to vaccination and that people are not being informed of those risks1. This is, of course, rubbish, as all the risks and benefits, as well as the risks from the diseases they are trying to vaccinate against, are all clearly laid out on many trusted government and non-government health and medical websites2,3.
Another bullshit name is the Global Warming Policy Foundation, created by former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson. The average age of the Trustees at the time of formation of the Foundation was 74. In addition, some of the names on the academic advisory council are from the who’s who of climate change deniers4. This organisation is only about Global Warming in that they maintain it is not happening, and is only concerned with policy insofar as there should be no policies mitigating Global Warming because it doesn’t exist.
The bullshit name has a long history going at least as far back as 1920 with the formation of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartie (National Socialist German Workers’ Party; NSDAP), the party we now know as the Nazi Party5, which was only concerned with workers as long as they were of pure Aryan stock, and didn’t belong to a union. There are still a few far-right halfwits (e.g. Dinesh D’Souza6) who, in an attempt to discredit the progressive side of politics (the left), maintain that as the NSDAP had ‘sozialistische’ in its title, it was socialist and therefore ‘of the left’. This is of course, ridiculous, as anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge will tell you7.
Such bullshit names are also applied to nations. For example, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is anything but democratic. It is in fact a dynastic dictatorship8, not unlike an absolute monarchy, as operated in England prior to the English Civil War.
There are several Australian examples of bullshit names. These include the Australian Environment Foundation9, which is an offshoot of the Institute of Public Affairs, the climate change denying policy branch of the Liberal Party. Of course, it is all about business and has little to do with the environment, except to deny there are problems with it.
One could also argue that bullshit names also apply to ‘modern’ political parties, with the current Australian Liberal Party being decidedly illiberal.