Pseudo’s (pseudosciece) corner, Private Eye

I don’t read Private Eye, the British humor magazine, but Matthew Cobb sent a screenshot from his issue singling out what I thought was a joke, but isn’t. His notes:

Pseud’s corner is the bit in Private Eye where they publish genuine pseud0-intellectual garbage. This appears to be true.

I can’t explain it. I can understand why you might be interested in people’s responses to plastic bags but that’s not the same thing as saying they are conscious!



  1. Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    ”Can it be my friend?”

    Maybe, if you are a glue sniffer.

    • zoolady
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      (Or suicidal?)

  2. Mark Clements
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Ah, perhaps this discussion is based on the line in the Katy Perry song “Firework” that goes like this: “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag/Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?” Brings a tear to the eye….

  3. Christopher Bonds
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    How does one empathize with a plastic bag?

    • Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      It’s difficult not to feel sorry for something destined for scooping up dog poop.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      If you are a soft-matter rheologist you are one with the enthalpic relaxations of squishy polymer bonds.

    • somer
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      where there is such a thing as Platonic absolute singular truth, pure Theory and pure principle regardless of context. In such a world everyone (and everything it seems) has infinite absolute rights and therefore none in practise.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Alive? I don’t think so. I know that in Europe they have long ago stopped using them but we just grind on as if there is no alternative. So the talk at the grocery is – paper or plastic.

    • boggy
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:31 am | Permalink

      It was the Republic of Ireland that was the first country in Europe to ban (or restrict) plastic bags. The hedgerows used to be hung with plastic bags that were known as ‘witches knickers’. (panties US). The Irish were also the first to ban smoking in public places.
      Sad their abortion laws are so backward.

  5. loren russell
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    For the record, this appears to refer to Katy Perry’s “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” 95% of which is repetition of “plastic bag”. The semiotics escape me, but given the fecundity we saw for the use of “mulato” to describe TMV, I’m sure a semester could be spun on this song…

  6. Kiwi Dave
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Dear Queen Mary University

    Wiki and common sense can answer your questions without a seminar, though anyone asking the last question literally is probably a bit lacking in common sense.

    Yours insincerely
    Kiwi Dave

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Avant-garde humor & surrealistic stream of conscious thought seems to be what is going on here, best as I can tell. At least I hope so.

  8. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Matthew is correct in his spelling (unless Private Eye have had an outbreak of Spellingchequeritis since I last read one, around solstice). It’s “Pseud’s Corner” to poke fun at the species. “Pseudo’s” just doesn’t sneer at them enough.

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    O_O ….. O_O … [backing away]… O_O [door closes]

  10. eric
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    1. Chemistry!
    2. Buyers.
    3. Anything you want.
    4. No.

    Can I haz grant?

  11. busterggi
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Can we have a relationship with a plastic bag that doesn’t include putting it over our head and masturbating?

  12. busterggi
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Can we have a relationship with a plastic bag that doesn’t include putting it over our head and masturbating?

  13. Brian Salkas
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    David Chalmers might like this, google “david chalmer panpsychism”

  14. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    There is a film by Ramin Bahrani called “Plastic Bag”, that:
    “…traces the epic, existential journey of a plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) searching for its lost maker, the woman who took it home from the store and eventually discarded it. Along the way, it encounters strange creatures, experiences love in the sky, grieves the loss of its beloved maker, and tries to grasp its purpose in the world.”

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of this scene from the film American Beauty involving a plastic bag, which a character describes as the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen (and, IIRC, was based on the filmmaker’s own personal experience).

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted January 13, 2017 at 3:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, I suspect that scene is the source of this seminar.

  16. tubby
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Um.. well. I’ve seen prompts similar to this to help writers and artists practice developing stories and characters, as well as how to convey thought and emotion with a character without a proper face or body. But magical reality writing and art prompts are labeled as such.

    • eric
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Oh sure. As a creative writing assignment, I have no problem with this. Do we really think, however, that the advertised “research seminar” is someone standing up and talking about their creative writing assignment?

      • tubby
        Posted January 12, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Eh, I’ve taken a seminar like that once. But it was with an Estonian filmmaker and was billed as a narrative structure seminar. Which it was. I can’t even imagine trying to pass it off as ‘research’ unless you wanted to get a bunch of people in a room to see if you could convince them to write wacky stories based off wacky prompts.

  17. Posted January 12, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    There’s no way. There must be some context we’re missing.

  18. Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Winco grocery stores in the northwest are no longer offering plastic bags and are charging $.05 per paper bag if you forget to bring your own sturdy bags.

    Plastic bags litter the countryside, the oceans and the landfills. The U.S. is looking more like certain 3rd world countries all the time by virtue of the detritus dumped along highways, including plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic hamburger cartons, etc. (That plus tire rubber that stripped off of long haul truck tires. Very scenic.

    • loren russell
      Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      I cherish a picture I took a few years ago of a very scenic roadside in Utah with a spectacular build up of wind-plankton plastic caught up in fencing and shrubs… under a sign reading “This road adopted by XXXX county libertarians”.

  19. BobTerrace
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I despised Reagan and his administration, but you cannot put all the blame on them. The closing of the mental health institutions started in the 1950s through the 1960s and 1970s.

  20. jrhs
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I’d hate myself if I make as much noise as a plastic bag does.

  21. Posted January 12, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I doubt very seriously that one can befriend a plastic bag. A paper bag once told me that plastic bags are notoriously guarded and are not easily given to making new friends.

  22. Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    When they get stuck in trees, they are called “witch’s knickers” round here.

  23. Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a genuine seminar, even if it’s tongue in cheek:

    Maybe code for the Xmas party?

  24. Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Some of my best friends are plastic bags! One day I will go out and get another one!

  25. keith cook +/-
    Posted January 12, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    the plastic bags i’ve come across like to be full of something, they don’t care what, otherwise they say, life has no meaning…

  26. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Let me defend the humble plastic supermarket bag. Compared with almost every other form of packaging, it is surely the most environmentally friendly, energy-efficient packaging ever.

    It’s made from the thinnest possible plastic, can be re-used many times to contain almost anything, and when disposed of scrunches up to a very small volume – unlike, say, styrofoam.
    And if it is carelessly dropped in the open, being very thin and made of non-UV-stabilised polyethylene, it will crumble to dust surprisingly quickly.

    So while I agree with the objectives of the recycling and minimising-waste enthusiasts, I’d say that those who are taking aim at the humble supermarket bag are misguided and aiming at the wrong target.

    (#1 environmental crime IMO – bottled water!)


  27. Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    You just never know what you will run across on the Internet. I saw a post on T***ter that stated: Laura Prater ‏@AFHomemaker
    What Darwin Claimed … via @CreationConcep1 7:13 PM – 11 Jan 2017

    So I checked out the website for the Darwin claim and found this… “WHAT DARWIN CLAIMED”

    “To a creationist, Darwin was not simply contradictory, he was wrong because we know from scripture that God created man in His image. We know that man was created with the capacity to choose, with the capacity for thought independent from natural laws. That knowledge helps us distinguish between gravity and Darwin’s ideas of thought. To someone who does not use God’s Word as a standard, it would be easy to assume that all phenomena are due to natural laws and Darwin’s statement would hold much merit. This is why it is necessary to examine the roots of science and the roots of knowledge because if one accepts that the discovery of the natural world is science and science explain everything, then that person would think that something like human thoughts must have a natural root, just like gravity does. Only an examination of foundations of science can cause a person to question those assumptions.” –

    The poster claims to be a Home Schooling Military Mom who is into Jesus Christ. Damned scary stuff!!!

  28. boggy
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    If you want to see the full capabilities of a black plastic bin-liner check out Viz magazine which sometimes has a strip about ‘Black Bag’ a faithful collie-like bag and its adventures.

  29. peepuk
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    I seem to have many friends

  30. Mike
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    They are extracting the urine.Got to be.

  31. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 13, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Pseuds Corner has been holding pretentious rubbish up to ridicule since the late 60s. From time to time, authors who appear in it write indignant or baffled letters to the magazine explaining why their utterances really aren’t pseudish at all. This usually adds to the general amusement.

    Another entry in the current issue:

    “Through its reassuring yet assertive vibrancy, Greenery offers us self-assurance and boldness to live life on our own terms, during a time when we are redefining what makes us successful and happy”

    – Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, announces its colour of the year for 2017.

    • Posted January 13, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Marketing is often full of great examples for critical thinking discussions.

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