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Bullshit

Bullshit (often abbreviated "BS" or shortened to "bull" in more formal contexts) is a common English expletive meaning "false statements" or, as an interjection, "that statement is false". It usually has the further connotation that the speaker is making such statements to manipulate the listener or further an agenda, and either knows they are false or has no interest in their factual accuracy one way or the other. Talking bullshit is thus a lesser form of lying, and is likely to ellicit a correspondingly weaker emotional response: whereas a liar may be greeted with outrage and hatred, an exponent of bullshit tends to be dismissed with a disinterested sneer.

Bullshit is commonly employed in sales, advertising, journalism and the broadcast media, and in some areas of religion, politics and "borderline" sciences such as sociology, where truth and accuracy are far less important than the ability to acheive a suitable response in the audience. In many cases, such a response involves the gaining of popularity or favour, as is required in politics or advertising, although there are far more mundane examples of bullshit being involved in the lives of ordinary people. It is not at all uncommon to hear of somebody "bullshitting" a job interview, for example, or to attribute their performance in an examination to their ability to bullshit. Bullshit is also used in the popular saying[?] "money talks, bullshit walks" meaning in a belittling way that people with money can reign supreme.

Table of contents

The card game

Bullshit is also the more common name for a card game often described by the milder name "I doubt it", usually played by children. It is also known by other euphemisms such as "BS" or "Cheat".

The entire deck is dealt one card at a time facedown to the players. It is generally considered more important to have every card in play than for each player to start with exactly the same number. The center of the table will hold a pile of cards played during the game. Play starts with whoever has the two of clubs in their hand and continues clockwise.

On each turn, the player must play the cards he has of a certain rank. There are two common variants of the game. In the first, the rank must be one above the rank played by the previous player (twos, then threes, then fours). In the other, it may be one above, one below or the same rank as the preceding player. The player selects the cards to play, announces how many are being played and their rank ("two fours"), and places them facedown in the pile in the center. If the player doesn't actually have the cards needed to play at least one of the correct rank, he is still required to play, and so must cheat or bluff (lie about it), hence the names of the game. It is also permissible to bluff if the player does have cards of the given rank, for example, by playing and announcing "two kings" when he has only one.

The next part of the game is subject to two major variations. After each player takes his turn and before the next player has, one of two things can happen. In the first variant, any of the other players can yell out "Cheat" or "BS" to challenge the cards that were just played. In the second variant, only the player about to lay down cards can yell out "Cheat" or "BS" to challenge the cards laid down instead. In some games, the players agree to either wait before playing their turn so other players can think carefully about challenging, or to rapidly take their turns to put more pressure on challengers. When a player yells out to challenge, they turn over enough cards from the top of the pile to decide if the cards just played were legitimate (this should be the number of the cards that the player who just took his turn announced; however, it is generally acceptable to turn over more if cheating as described later is suspected). If it turns out that the player played the amount and rank of cards that he announced, the challenger takes the whole pile that had accumulated in the center. If the player was bluffing and did not put down what he announced, he takes the whole pile.

Depending on how you want to play, either the first player to get rid of all his cards (and not lose any challenge on his final play) is the winner, or the last player with cards remaining is the loser. Since Bullshit is almost never played for money or other stakes, players who don't have cards because they've already won can make a challenge that they intend to lose so they can get cards to continue playing.

Strategy

Strategy is relatively simple, making the game trivial and mostly chance for adults. Calculate ahead which cards you will need for the next few rounds so you can maximize your legitimate plays and bluff away the cards you won't be able to use legitimately.

Cheating

While bluffing is a necessary rule of the game, there are additional ways to cheat. Some players find these unacceptable. Others consider them to be part of the game. Why someone would cheat in this game is obvious. It is done for the fun of it. This game is rarely played for money or anything other than fun. Nonetheless, cheating is prevalent in Bullshit. Probably the most common technique is to hide cards from your hand so you don't have to play them. Another is to announce the number of legitimate cards you will play but also slip extra cards below them. If you are challenged and the challenger turns over only the number you announced, it is impossible to detect this cheat. However, challengers rarely turn over only the number you announced. Other techniques can be adopted from those of poker collusion and mechanics of poker cheating.

Russian Bullshit

Some people find this variant to be more interesting than the regular variant. The strategy for 2-player Russian Bullshit is particularly interesting.

Deal out all the cards to all players, as evenly as possible. The first player to go chooses any rank to start with, and places any number of cards of that rank face-down. For example, the player may play "3 Kings" or "5 fours" or "8 jacks". Bluffing is, of course, permitted.

The next player has 3 options:

  1. Play more cards of the same rank. NOT the next higher rank as in regular Bullshit. The player may add only 1 card, or any number of cards.
  2. Say "I Doubt It" (i.e., "Bullshit"). Note that you may only say "I doubt it" if it is your turn. If you are right, the previous person picks up all the cards and you start a new round. If you are wrong, you pick up all the cards and the next person starts a new round with the rank of his choice.
  3. Say "I Believe". If you are wrong, you pick up all the cards and the next person starts a new round with the rank of his choice. If you are right, all the cards on the table are removed from the game and you start a new round with the rank of your choice.

This game is interesting, for example, when playing with 2 decks and 16 or more "queens" are already on the table. Also note that, if you know someone is lying, you cannot challenge if it is not your turn. You are allowed to verbally advise the person whose turn it is.

After one player goes out, the game normally continues to determine 2nd, 3rd, etc.



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