On hocus-pocus, mumbo-jumbo, flim-flam and jiggery-pokery
– 9 October 2010

The four expressions, used to call falsehoods and deceptions of various kinds, share a common verbal feature on analysis, that of repetition of sound with slight alteration, be it of a single vowel, a single consonant, or one or two of each. The common effect of this characteristic of the verbal presentation of each of the four expressions appears to be to suggest the deception of the human mind through the use of some kind of superficially apparently coherent presentation that is nonetheless false and perhaps even deliberately manipulative of human perception, lulling the object mind into a trance, just as rhymes in poetry can.

But is it not ironic that these four expressions themselves have precisely the effect that they are implying to be had by the targets of their attacks? They are labelling those targets as deceptions and falsehoods to be wary of, but without any evidence presented in support of these implicit claims, are they not in themselves carrying the potential to deceive?

Negative labels can be very persuasive, and those that imply trickery all the more so, since nobody likes to feel tricked or deceived. But how often have you come across labels of the genre of hocus-pocus, mumbo-jumbo, flim-flam and jiggery-pokery used without any clear evidence presented to substantiate their implicit claims? In such a context, are they anything more than potentially deceptive propaganda in themselves, slightly subsconsciously frightening associative attachments to their particular chosen targets to the effect that the human mind is primed to recoil in suspicion from those targets, not even to approach them with an open mind to investigation and observation?

Be wary of negative labels of any kind. Be wary of negative propaganda and negatively charged verbal expressions of any kind. The negativity can pervade the subconscious and skew neutral consideration and ultimately pre-empt fair judgement. Always investigate matters on their own merits, as open-mindedly and analytically as possible. Never take someone else’s ill-speaking pseudo-objective projections for granted.

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