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President Trump deservedly took a lot of flak for his casual suggestion on Thursday April 23 2020 that doctors investigate methods for directly injecting disinfectant or ultraviolet light in to human bloodstreams.

“Then I said, supposing it brought the light inside the body, which you can either do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re gonna test that too, sounds interesting. And I then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way you can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. “

Almost everyone who heard these remarks regarded them as inadvisable, to say the least, when regarded in the framework of worthy Presidential statements. Kudos to Al Lee of Seattle, Washington, who came up with the correct word to describe these remarks when viewed in the framework of P. T. Barnum-like salesmanship.

“On his specific statements, Trump was clearly ‘spitballing’, as all salesmen do to impress the customers with all the cool things their ‘company’ can do, and how the company is able to come up with cool new products. It is also often just an attempt to look smart and creative, particularly when the salesman is surrounded with experts who are making him feel dumb.”

Merriam Webster traced the origin of the term “spitballing” to its 19th-Century origins describing a wad of paper rolled up by school children and then noted its evolution to describe a baseball pitch, followed by a mid-20th-Century “sharp left turn” to a new meaning:

“This new sense of spitball might be defined as to suggest ideas, especially those that are jocular, improbable, or impractical…” and was (and is) frequently encountered in the jargon of advertising and marketing.”

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