George Carlin

Welcome to the Upside Down: Don’t Dip "Below the Carlin Line"

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

Welcome to the Upside Down: Don’t Dip "Below the Carlin Line"

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

Just when you thought reality couldn't get any weirder, your aunt hits you with a YouTube video titled "The Earth is Actually a Donut: A Glazed Truth." As she earnestly explains how the North Pole hole is where the jelly filling must've leaked out, you realize she’s slipped below the Carlin Line - that deliciously absurd place where logic goes to die a slow, painful death by a thousand hilarious facepalms.

It's an inescapable phenomenon in our modern world: people convince themselves of utter nonsense as reality bends and distorts all around us. 

Here's my proposal for a new cultural benchmark: the "Below the Carlin Line" (BCL) gauge. It's named after George Carlin, the master of calling out societal BS. 

The Mendoza Roadmap

But first, a quick detour to the baseball diamond and the infamous Mendoza Line - that .200 batting average benchmark separating the "you're doing okay" from the "dude find a new hobby." 

George Carlin once said, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

Just as the Mendoza line slices through offensive mediocrity in the major leagues, the BCL lets us take a swing at human logic gone foul.

When You've Crossed the BCL

Wondering if someone has stumbled into BCL territory? 

Here's a snapshot:

  • Pushing to microchip kids to track their lunch accounts, privacy and ethics be damned.
  • Being convinced COVID was a hoax because Karen from Yoga claimed her third cousin's neighbour got vaxxed and turned into a 5G WIFI router.
  • Boycotting Disney for being too "woke" while faithfully buying every Star Wars Baby Yoda product on shelves.

It's the twilight zone of reasoning where facts are treated like suggestions and common-sense whimpers quietly in the corner. Recognizing a breach of the threshold is important - that's when you know someone lost their logical compass.

The Genius of Carlin's Lens

Carlin was a master and I hope the BCL shines a light on the quirks, contradictions, and mental gymnastics people too often accept as normal:

Billionaires are men of the people

The idea that billionaires like Elon Musk sipping Martian cockroach milk are "just folks" is richer than his buddy Bezos launching dick rockets into space for fun. Nothing says, "I'm a man of one of the people," like hoarding resources that could end world hunger just to joyride in space.

Empathy.exe Has Encountered a Human Error

Tech-drunk CEOs pitching "empathy apps" to change the world might as well be flogging pseudo-scientific comedy snake oils. You know what automates empathy? Being a decent human being instead of coding morality into soulless bots. Crazy concept.


Corporate plunderers pretending to care about the planet by peddling hashtag campaigns are fuller of hot air than the carbon emissions they keep pumping out. Click here to raise awareness via selfie - change accomplished!

These are Carlin's wheelhouse - absurdities he'd bat around with his signature wit, giving us truth-flavoured comedic medicine to treat society's "duhhhh" moments.

We've ALL Been There

While it's fun to gaze at the blind alleys others' thinking can wander down, let's be honest - we've all taken a wrong turn into BCL territory at one point or another. 

Like when:

  • You spent way too long stubbornly trying to start a broken microwave by violently jabbing buttons before realizing it wasn't plugged in. 
  • You got into a heated argument with a friend over some random historical "fact" you just knew was true...until a quick Google proved you laughably, indisputably wrong.
  • You blamed the waiter for getting your order wrong despite clearly slurring and mumbling through your request after one too many drinks.

Those moments of eye-bulging self-awareness ("Wait, what am I actually doing right now?") are dips below the stand in the BCL world. They remind us that no matter how highly we think of our own rationality, we're all just humans navigating a hilarious carnival of folly.

The Best (Worst?) of BCL   

And then there are those BCL gems so outrageous, so utterly lacking in logic, that they achieve a kind of anti-reason performance art:

  • The tale of the woman arrested for calling 911 to complain about a bad cannabis purchase, indignantly demanding proper customer service.
  • Someone who argues that the Earth must be flat because, on a flight, they pressed their face against the airplane window and “didn’t see any curves.” They used this as irrefutable evidence in many heated online debates.
  • A homeowner who fought a wasp nest with a flamethrower made from an aerosol can and a lighter, convinced it was a more effective solution than calling pest control, leading to an emergency services intervention.
  • People who use phone voice commands while driving...but still physically take the phone out to see if it understood them properly, defeating the entire purpose. 
  • That sketchy aunt who claims sunscreen is a Big Pharma conspiracy, leading to her regular applications of coconut oil and Bible verses as SPF protection.

These prime BCL specimens almost inspire a surreal respect for the astounding mental pretzels humans can twist themselves into. They're tragic reminders to laugh at our own frailties...before the illogic spreads too far.

Staying Grounded in Rational Thought

So, how does one avoid descending into the BCL abyss altogether? 

It starts with staying grounded:

Stay Humble, Stay Flexible

The first step is acknowledging that none of us are immune to lapses in logic or questionable decisions. Overconfidence is the mind-killer here. Maintaining a healthy skepticism of perceived "truth" creates the mental flexibility to re-evaluate beliefs when appropriate.

Apply the "Seem" Litmus Test  

Got a hot take you're feeling pretty smug about? Apply this simple test: "Does this just seem true...or is it actually true based on verifiable evidence?" Separating gut feelings from objectivity is crucial for sidestepping the BCL pitfall.

The Devil You Know 

Befriend that one friend or family member who loves playing devil's advocate and challenging your stances. Having even just one dissenting voice keeps your intellectual environment enriched and less prone to unchecked BS.

Verify, Then Believe

In our age of information overload, we must remain hyper-vigilant about sourcing. See an eye-catching "fact" that seems to validate your viewpoint? Go upstream - verify the credibility of the source and look for corroborating evidence before blindly accepting it as gospel.

Of course, the occasional BCL moment is inevitable and often humbling in hindsight. But staying grounded, welcoming dissent, verifying claims, and resisting snap judgments go a long way toward keeping logic as our lodestar.

The Role of Satire 

For all its laughs, the BCL concept is about more than mere mockery. It's a call for maintaining a sense of empathetic humility about how easily we can all stray from rational thought. By spotlighting examples of high-grade inanity in ourselves and others, we celebrate the remedy - using our built-in bullshit detectors to continually re-anchor in truth and wisdom.

At its core, the BCL rallies us to embrace an eternal skepticism of easy answers, en vogue dogmas, and appealing fiction that insulate us from reality's messier truths. It's not about being a perpetual contrarian but stubbornly defending critical thinking as a superpower. 

So, keep those BCL goggles on, fellow travellers. Let's dive appreciatively into the deep end of widely accepted social absurdities and personal brain farts, emerging just a bit more grounded, a tad more centred...but still ready to laugh at human folly over and over again. The balm of satirical self-awareness awaits.

Your Pocket Guide to Spotting "Below the Carlin Line" Moments

To paraphrase George Carlin, always remember that 50% of the population is dumber than the other 50%. This tongue-in-cheek quip reminds us that lapses into irrational, nonsensical thinking are unavoidable human foibles we must all stay vigilant against. 

To help you discern when people (including yourself) have strayed "Below the Carlin Line" into the zany zone of pure absurdity, keep an eye out for these red flags:

The Science Deniers

  • "I'm not anti-vax. I'm just against putting toxins and microchips in my body."
  • "Climate change is a hoax created by Al Gore and the Chinese!"
  • "The moon landing was obviously faked and filmed on a sound stage."

The Conspiracy Collectors 

  • "I stopped using deodorant - those chemtrail mind control agents are put in there by the government!"
  • "Sandy Hook was just crisis actors trying to take our guns away."
  • "Fluoride in our drinking water is not for dental health; it's actually a mind control agent used by governments to dull our critical thinking abilities. I've switched to drinking only distilled water to keep my mind clear."

The Pavlovian Partisans

  • "The other side doesn't just have bad policies; they're all fundamentally evil people. But I don't believe in demonizing opponents."
  • "Every news outlet is fake news unless they're reporting something I agree with. Then, it's just hard-hitting journalism."
  • "Both parties are exactly the same corrupted corporate sellouts...but I'll always vote for my party no matter what." 

The Tech Dystopians

  • "5G towers are actually military-grade mind control weapons in disguise!"
  • "Virtual reality's real purpose is to trap human consciousness in a digital prison. It's how they'll erase our memories and replace them with their propaganda."
  • "If you just stare into a computer screen too long, it can literally reprogram your RNA!"

The Mental Gymnasts

  • "Of course, the U.S. brings peace and democracy to countries! That's why we have to bomb them."
  • "Trickle-down economics works, we just need to give the wealthy MORE tax cuts!" 
  • "I'm not racist but stating undeniable facts about racial IQ differences isn't racist at all."
  • “Freedom of speech is absolute, but those who spread ideas I disagree with should definitely be silenced for the good of society."

The Anti-Vaxxers

  • "I'm not putting that unsafe vaccine filled with toxins and nanoparticles in my body!"
  • "Vaccine-related injuries are just the medical, industrial complex covering up their crimes."
  • "If vaccines work, why do vaccinated people still get sick sometimes? Checkmate!"
  • “Why would I get a vaccine when I can just detox my body with essential oils and positive vibes? Diseases can't touch me if my aura is clean."

The Alternative "Doctors"

  • "No need for Big Pharma's poison! I treat all diseases with colloidal silver and turpentine enemas."  
  • "Don't trust doctors! I get all my medical advice from bloggers, WhatsApp groups, and YouTube influencers."
  • "This crystal has incredible vibrational frequencies that can realign your chakras and cure cancer."
  • “Heart disease is just a myth propagated by the treadmill industry. The only cardio you need is dancing under the full moon to activate your body's natural healing rhythms."

The Bottom Line: If it walks like an irrational duck and talks like an irrational duck, you've likely encountered one of the many, many individuals living in society's metaphorical trailer park - comfortably Below the Carlin Line.

Whip out this guide for a quick reality check anytime you need it!


Bill Beatty

International Man of Leisure, Harpo Marxist, sandwich connoisseur /

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