Seven Phrases You Can Never Say

“American comedian George Carlin first spoke about seven words that are taboo on television in 1972 with his monologue, ‘Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.’ The words for which Carlin became famous seem relatively mundane nearly 50 years later: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. (See? Not so bad in 2021.) In this essay, I describe seven phrases that are now taboo on television, albeit for reasons other than those that applied to Carlin’s seven.”—Dr. Guy McPherson

Going Dark

By Dr. Guy McPherson

Comedian/Social Critic George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937–June 22, 2008).

Comedian/Social Critic George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937–June 22, 2008).

I know that. Some people don’t want you to mention certain things. Some people don’t want you to say this, some people don’t want you to say that. Some people think if you mention some things they might happen. Some people are really fucking stupid. Did you ever notice that, how many stupid people you run into during the day? Goddamn there’s a lot of stupid bastards walking around. Carry a pad and pencil with you, you’ll wind up with 30 or 40 names by the end of the day. Think about this: think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of ‘em are stupider than that.”―George Carlin, from “Doin’ It Again/Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” (1990)

“This would be a great world to dance in if we didn’t have to pay the fiddler.”Will Rogers, from Daily Telegram #1224, “Rogers Offers His Version Of The Economic Situation” (27 June 1930)

Guy McPherson

POULTNEY Vermont—(Weekly Hubris)—1 July 2021—American comedian George Carlin first spoke about seven words that are taboo on television in 1972 with his monologue, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” The words for which Carlin became famous seem relatively mundane nearly 50 years later: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. (See? Not so bad in 2021.) In this essay, I describe seven phrases that are now taboo on television, albeit for reasons other than those that applied to Carlin’s seven.

1. Fiat currency

Money is frequently mentioned in the corporate media. The source of money is mentioned far less commonly. Currency has value because we claim it has value. We agree on the value of various pieces of paper, formerly backed by gold, now backed by confidence (cf. “con man”). This is not necessarily a great way to ensure the continuation of the industrial economy upon which we all depend (e.g., see the peer-reviewed paper linked here).

2. Aerosol masking effect

The aerosol masking effect has been described since at least 1929 in the peer-reviewed literature. The impact of the aerosol masking effect has been greatly underestimated, as pointed out in an 8 February 2019 article in Science. That this February 2019 paper cites the conclusion by Levy et al. (2013) indicating that as little as a 35 percent reduction in industrial activity drives a 1 C global-average rise in temperature suggests that a relatively minor reduction in industrial activity will trigger an abrupt rise in temperature beyond the ability of humans and most other species to survive. I have been studying climate change since the early 1980s, yet I originally learned about the long history of scholarly work on this important topic in June 2015.

The aerosol masking effect has seldom been discussed in the corporate media, perhaps to maintain privilege, as I discussed in a peer-reviewed article: “’Keep it in the ground’ is a rallying cry for activists, but admitting to the majority of the population that the situation is irreversible, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finally did in September 2019, doubtless would discourage people from leaving the fossil fuels untouched and ‘in the ground.’ This is one of the means by which the calories unconsumed by the ignorant masses are left to the informed, presumably wealthy individuals.”

3. Self-reinforcing feedback loop

We do not know we have triggered a self-reinforcing feedback loop until it is already behind us. In this way, a self-reinforcing feedback loop is similar to a dog we ran over with a car: Mistakes have been made. However, we know many self-reinforcing feedback loops have been triggered. Many have been reported in the peer-reviewed literature, yet few make “the news.” I suspect this is for the same reason that the aerosol masking effect has received little attention: retention of privilege for a few, at the expense of information transmitted to the many.

4. Hope is a mistake and a lie

I have written broadly on the topic of hope, originally at Nature Bats Last, and ultimately in the peer-reviewed literature. Hope is a terrible idea to which most people have fallen prey. In short, “to hope is to believe in a favorable future. Hope is based on faith. Faith requires no evidence. Indeed, evidence generally interferes with faith: witness the spiritually religious.”

William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (4 November 1879–15 August 1935)

William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (4 November 1879–15 August 1935)

5. Human population overshoot

Anyone paying attention knows there are too many people on Earth. Anybody paying attention knows that the overpopulation of humans is the root of many of our problems and predicaments. Yet, as Voltaire pointed out, “common sense is not so common.” Will Rogers put his inimitable spin on the idea of common sense a couple of hundred years after Voltaire: “Common sense ain’t common.”

6. Near-term human extinction

You will occasionally find an article in the corporate media about the most important topic in human history. More often than not, the article will disparage the idea. Sometimes the article will turn to hope or an unrealistic timeline (e.g., 2100). Occasionally, the article will libel me. Rarely is the topic treated seriously.

7. Privileges exist, based on demography

White, male privilege is widely acknowledged. To deny that privilege accrues to Caucasian men is to avoid essentially all of history. The idea remains relevant in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the common nonsensical retort, “all lives matter.”

The privileges do not stop with race and sex. Privileges accrue, in general, to Caucasian, male, heterosexual men of a certain age. These privileges come at the expense of every other demographic.

Recognizing these privileges and to whom they accrue is an initial step along the path to destroying them. We are obligated to do so.

“Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” George Carlin, 1972.

To order Dr. McPherson’s books, click the cover images here below:

Academic Pursuits: A Novel Kindle Edition

Academic Pursuits: A Novel Kindle Edition

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction Kindle Edition, by Guy McPherson.


Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction Kindle Edition, by Guy McPherson.

Kindle Edition.

About Guy McPherson

Dr. Guy McPherson is an internationally recognized speaker, award-winning scientist, and one of the world’s leading authorities on abrupt climate change leading to near-term human extinction. He is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for 20 years. His published works include 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Dr. McPherson has been featured on television and radio and in several documentary films. He is a blogger and social critic who co-hosts his own radio show, “Nature Bats Last.” Dr. McPherson speaks to general audiences across the globe, and to scientists, students, educators, and not-for-profit and business leaders who seek their best available options when confronting Earth’s cataclysmic changes. Visit McPherson's Author Page at
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12 Responses to Seven Phrases You Can Never Say

  1. Nathan Tyson says:

    Good read, Guy! I read recently that FB is blocking\warning\censoring posts that have terms such as “carbon footprint” in them, because they are too controversial or some nonsense. There were some other innocuous terms but I can’t find at the moment

  2. Guy R McPherson says:

    Facebook is a crazy place that encourages defamation, confusion, and distraction from topics of importance. Leaving Facebook and Twitter behind nearly a year ago was among the wisest decisions I’ve made.

  3. DrCiber says:

    Have to disagree with you on #7.

    You are a conservation biologist but it looks like when you arrive at #7 you abandon your Darwinism and pick up a 21st century Progressive’s delusion. Privileges exist, or should, based on track record, that admittedly is confined to a narrow demographic that varies somewhat depending on where one is on the planet, but indeed is largely male and Caucasian, because that’s where the track records are. Insisting on an interpretation of events that contradicts the basis for those events will never stand the tests of time or common sense.

  4. Naomi Goi says:

    I’m trying to widespread Guy’s message in Japan.
    The reaction is same as Guy’s in America.
    But I realized, that you can see the world completely different,
    it’s easy going and deeper !

    We should organize to getting, The Nobel Peace Prize, Right Livelihood Award,
    Goldman Enviromental Prize for Guy, all 3 or at least 1 of them.
    We make a website counting how many people seeing the site.
    I think it never will be, but getting more people informed about Guy’s 
    I would like do the work, but my english is not good enough to do so.
    Please conntact me per e-mail:

  5. Guy R McPherson says:

    DrCiber, are you claiming heterosexual, Caucasian men of a certain age do not accrue unearned privilege because they are heterosexual, Caucasian men of a certain age? As a heterosexual, Caucasian man of a certain age, I have certainly enjoyed unearned privilege. It began at birth. It continues more than 61 years later.

  6. Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, Naomi. I greatly appreciate your work and your acknowledgement of my work. I’ll get on the Nobel Prize nomination right away.

  7. Bob Gage says:

    Following on from the white privilege debate, someone remarked, where I work, that given the support given to a myriad of persons, the WHAMs, aka White Heterosexual Able-Bodied Men are the only subsection that do not have any help – positive discrimination, natch.
    Guy, I have to agree with that.
    A balance needs to be struck.
    Aside from that aside, your work is sterling stuff.

  8. Guy R McPherson says:

    I’m a WHAM, Bob Gage. I’m getting plenty of help from the government where I live in Vermont. Perhaps I’m exceptional, though I think not.

  9. David Hayes says:

    I was having a chat with a friend yesterday while out for a bike ride about the recent heat dome/ firestorm in Canada and I mentioned ‘global dimming’ and the catch 22 we are in. He replied ‘‘you are a right little ray of sunshine aren’t you’. End of conversation! There’s not many people you can even talk to about this, especially white Caucasian males!

  10. Guy R McPherson says:

    I couldn’t agree more, David Hayes. Those with the most privilege to lose seem to be the most resistant to the message.

  11. colinc says:

    Good to see you’re still this side of the topsoil, Guy! :) I regret, just a little, that I haven’t “kept up” with your writings much over the past several years. I long ago gave up trying to persuade anyone about anything. As your Carlin reference and Cipolla’s “5 Laws…” have made clear, as well as my own experiences over the years, there are WAY TOO MANY stupid people on this rock. Attempting to “discuss” anything with them is like wrestling with a pig. Speaking of stupidity and pigs, even given my previous observation of the “W-factor,” I’m still amazed and disheartened how so many of my “fellow Americans” continue to pay fealty to that pompous, moronic, narcissistic, whining pig that was the previous POTUS. To paraphrase a line from “Star Wars: Episode IV,” there is no hope, Obi-wan, might as well stay in your cave and watch the world burn. Before I forget, one thing YOU failed to mention in your list of verboten topics, the acceleration of climate disruption. Anyone with a modicum of math skills and not subsumed by the ignorance of others should be able to see that the increases in quantity and severity of weather events we’ve experienced over the past 20-30 years will make those same degrees of increase within the next 10. The feedbacks have been functioning for more than a few years and the cascade of falling dominos is accelerating. Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies…

  12. Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, colinc. Like you, I’m surprised I’m still upright. May we be granted even more days ahead.