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Statistics Canada Announces Annual List of the Top Five Pseudo-Intellectual Expressions in Canada -- Machiavellian tops again

For the third consecutive year, 'Machiavellian' has maintained its position atop Statistics Canada's annual compendium of the five most overused terms in the country by people trying to sound more intelligent than they actually are.

The term is a reference to Italian political philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli, best known as the author the Prince, first published in 1532. The book is a brief but influential work regarded as a ruthless blueprint on how to obtain and maintain political power.

Nicolo Machiavelli:
A very Machiavellian portrait

"These days, literally anything a politician does is "Machiavellian," said StatsCan spokesperson Louise Mellon. "Once, I heard a television reporter say that (Heritage Minister) Sheila Copps gave a very "Machiavellian performance" at a ribbon cutting photo op. somewhere out in the boondocks, and then the Minister served some very "Machiavellian hot dogs" to the assembled crowd on hand."

"And then this other time, a hockey announcer tried to sound clever by saying that last week's match between Toronto and Ottawa was a "tremendously Machiavellian game in its intrigue.""

"I mean, come on," added Mellon.

Moving up to two spots to second place this year is 'Plato's Allegory of the Cave,' a particular favourite of first and second year university students.

"If you are anywhere near the whole light/dark paradigm, you can bet the house on someone dropping the 'Allegory of the Cave' bomb," said Laurentian University political science professor Robert Illyich.

"If I hear "but truth is nothing but the shadows of the images" from some pimpled face 20-year-old who thinks they have all the answers one more time, there's gonna be a whole lot of 'F' action going on.....," proclaimed the professor.

The Top Five Pseudo-Intellectual References in Canada, 2001
(Last year's ranking in parentheses)
1. Machiavellian (1)
2. Plato's Allegory of the Cave (4)
3. Cognitive Dissonance (2)
4. Existentalist/Existentialism (NR)
5. Marxist Dialectic (5)

Dropping one spot into third place is the classic 'cognitive dissonance,' a term coined in 1957 by American Social Psychologist Leon Festinger that describes the tension felt by humans when they are presented with evidence that contradicts their worldview or when they must act in defiance of their established worldview.

"Although I don't hear it as much as I used to, I have to tell you, a neighbour of mine really cracked me up when he tried to describe his "cognitive dissonance" when he was told by the staff at the Beer Store that they were out of Sleeman's Honey Brown and he wound up buying Cream Ale instead," commented Calgary psychologist Belinda Britten.

"He must have remembered it from his first year psych class and he wanted to impress me. I really had to bite my tongue," admitted Dr. Britten.

In fourth spot, 'Existenialism' makes its first appearance in the top five since 1994. A term commonly associated with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, existentialism is a difficult concept to summarize in one sentence, according to real intellectuals.

"To reduce it to its simplest terms, an existentialist believes that existence precedes essence," according to Professor Ludwig Martino of the non-accredited University College of Bowmanville.

According to the professor, it could be argued that 'existentialism' is so overused by the ignorant because of the very ambiguity of the term. Due to the fact that nobody really knows what it means, one can use the term confident that they will not be challenged by their peers.

"Therefore, you have numerous barroom conversations where one overhears drunken business students discussing how they have been feeling very existential since they were dumped by their girlfriends. Their friends then introduce the term into their lexicon, and the cycle continues," said Professor Martino.

Maxism and pseudo-intellectualism enjoy a long history together, and this year, 'Marxist Dialectic' remains firmly entrenched at number five-a steady, consistent performer in this survey. Said StatsCan's Mellon, "nobody really knows what the hell that means."

Last year's number four, 'Two Solitudes,' moves off this year's top five list, although Mellon speculated that it could move back into the Top Five should there be a provincial election or referendum on sovereignty in Quebec in the next year.

Posted on July 13th, 2001

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