John Walker's Electronic House

International Institutionalised Lying Day

by on Apr.01, 2009, under Rants

Oh good, it’s International Institutionalised Lying Day.

I loathe this ridiculous day. A day on which you can’t trust anything you read, hear or are told. What a brilliant plan it is – trusted sources of information becoming deliberately unreliable. So anything you hear on the radio, watch on TV, or read today on the BBC News site, Wikipedia front page, or whichever newspaper you pick up, is to be treated with suspicion.

The largest problem being, all these sources of news information cannot dedicate their output to half-arsed jokes. The world continues exploding, shooting at itself, and throwing all its money out a window. The inclusion of deliberate lies amongst the carnage is a knob joke at a funeral.

The aim of an April Fool is to deceive people. To trick someone into thinking something is true when it’s not. Mostly this is completely trivial, like Waitrose’s advertising “pinanas”. But while most people will look, roll their eyes, and turn the page, others will fall for it and then later feel stupid. The ultimate goal of April Fool’s Day is to make people feel stupid, to make them look like a fool. But it’s all the wrong people.

There’s an excellent purpose for making people feel stupid. It’s satire. Deliberately deceiving people into believing something that is untrue, in order to highlight hypocrisy and laziness, was once a powerful political tool. It was used to expose those in power, to ridicule in order to highlight serious problems. The last time there was anything genuinely satirical was 1997’s Brass Eye (and to a greater effect, 2001’s Brass Eye special), where politicians and celebrities – people who adopt positions of public power – were highlighted as hypocrites in elaborate and beautifully executed scams. Each scam had a greater purpose, a message to impart, and the victims were chosen for their willingness to perpetuate lies. While it’s hard to make a strong defence that Jenny Powell deserved to be picked on for not understanding science, an extremely strong defence can be made for exemplifying how celebrity endorsements of pseudo-science should be treated with great suspicion. Even at its cruellest, and it was extremely cruel, there was a reason.

April Fool’s Day lacks any purpose or reason. It’s about mocking the person who falls for the pointless lie. Ha ha, idiot! You thought the article in consumer science magazine, New Scientist, was a fact! You moron, trusting the magazine that otherwise reports developments in various fields in laymen’s terms! Ah ha ha ha! That will teach you not to check the tiny date printed on the cover before reading! (This backfired on New Scientist pretty badly one year, when their April 1st edition certainly did carry a pathetic attempt at a deceitful article, but also a completely factual one about CERN having broken the speed of light that absolutely no one believed).

The 2nd April cannot come quickly enough, so I can once again assume the lies in the news are at least not intended to be “a bit of harmless fun”, and where every other article published or broadcast isn’t designed to make gullible or poorly educated people feel stupid. I’d love to see us grow out of this, and realise that having a day of celebrated lying and deceit perhaps isn’t exactly what we need as a species. Or do I? HAHA! Maybe I’ve made all this up to trick you into thinking I don’t like April Fool’s Day! Wouldn’t that be amazingly funny?! No. No it wouldn’t.

16 Comments for this entry

  • Bobsy


    April Fool’s Day, a chance to annoy and humiliate people for no good reason. A national excuse to be a complete dick.

    Also, yes, Brass Eye was awesome. It makes me sad that publicly the most revered episode was the “cake” one, rather than the paedophilia one which was far, far funnier and more important.

  • unwise

    If a bit of humiliation teaches a few people to be a little more sceptical about what they read, isn’t that a good thing?

  • Andy Krouwel

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I particularly like the way that these stories hang around on the Internet, so you can enjoy being lied to by Google for years to come.

  • Patrick

    Aha, you had us going there for a minute. I almost believed you didn’t like april fools day.

  • Steve W

    Correction: those who determine the blurb for the Wikipedia front page article have a strict policy whereby anything presented must be factual, even on April 1. The blurb on this day is instead written in such a way as to imply a hoax, but clicking through to the article will reveal that every word is fully-cited to reliable sources.

  • John Walker

    Cheers Steve. Although I’m not sure how much that helps, implying things are false.

  • Mike

    I don’t suppose this is a meta-April Fool where you pretend to not like the day, huh?


  • Fat Zombie

    I could do without the day. I’ve actually had far more fun confusing strangers on Omegle than any half-arsed attempts at comedy from the newspapers.

    That said, Waitrose makes me hunger for delicious Pinanas. Come on, science, make them look silly and use that genetic wotsit to get these on the shelves!

    (I can almost imagine how they taste.)

  • Ian

    I hate the excitement for April Fool’s Day more than the actual day, if that makes sense. I also hate when people do a ‘normal’ practical joke (I actually mostly dislike them anyway) on this day and shout “April Fool!” at the poor victim even when they had no chance of knowing. You haven’t been “fooled” if some fuckwit jumps out of a cupboard and throws a bowl of jelly over you.

  • Andy Krouwel

    Man, I could go for a bag of Genetic Wotsits right now.

  • Masked Dave

    I love April Fools Day.

  • Jazmeister

    I completely didn’t realise April Fools day happened, checked one news thing (the Jarate from Valve, fucks) and believed it, and got through the rest of the day without hearing a single piece of bullshit. I think.

    I like that April Fools is an excuse to be a bit hilarious – I remember the spaghetti tree from newsround when I was little, that was great, and the Prawnography on – but people are always tragically effin’ themselves with AF jokes.

    Like webcomics that pretend they’ve packed in. They’re not getting those readers back! I think engendering lying, and ridiculing the trusting, is a truly cancerous behaviour – it totally erodes the societal virtuous we should be strengthening.

    Why not a day where everything is fucking true? Sure, people would still lie, but they always lie anyway. In the same way that “trick people” has disintegrated slightly into “tell funny jokes”, “tell the truth” might blend and smear into a national day for “telling home truthes”, like “you need to start picking up your underpants” or “I’ve always loved you and I don’t mind your third nipple, it’s lovely.”

    I wonder if there’s a Games Journalist opposed to each holiday? Richard Cobbett did a big anti-valentines day thing this year.

  • Ian

    “Everything Is Fucking True Day” could be hilarious.

    “‘I’M A FILTHY HACK’ says gossip columnist!”

  • John W

    Jazmeister – I don’t want to accuse you of defying your own desire for extra truth, but the spaghetti tree incident took place on Panorama in 1957.

  • sinister agent

    I love you, John. My biggest problem with Unfunny Cunt Day is that if the people who make the ‘jokes’ acted that way on any other day of the year, they’d be shunned and loathed as cheap, lying, manipulative bastards with a crap sense of humour. But no, because it’s april the first, it’s perfectly acceptable to be a total dick to people, apparently.