Squid Games viewers think Squid Games is real!


But also, Gene Robinson's column—and that Northwestern professor: By way of full disclosure, we've never seen an episode of Squid Games, a current "hit series" for Netflix.

Until yesterday, we're not sure we'd ever heard of Squid Games, although we probably had. Helpfully, a news report in yesterday's Washington Post explained what the show is about.

The report was based on a surprising or perhaps unsurprising fact. Some viewers of Squid Games seem to think Squid Games is real. 

It seems that these people don't understand that they're watching a fictional show. The news report started like this:

HASSAN AND MOON (10/8/21): Netflix is to edit scenes of its hit series “Squid Game” after large numbers of viewers began dialing a phone number that appears in the production—much to the despair of those on the other end of the line.

The dystopian series sees hundreds of people who are experiencing the misery of financial ruin, invited to an undisclosed location where they play childhood games in a bid to win a billion-dollar prize. The rules are clear: If they lose, they die.

When protagonist Gi-Hun flashes his games invitation card, an eight-digit number is seen. That number, however, just so happens to belong to a South Korean woman who says she has been bombarded with calls and messages from strangers ever since the show first premiered.

“I’ve been unceasingly getting calls and texts 24/7 to the point where my daily life has become difficult,” said Kim Gil-young, a dessert shop owner who has used the number for 10 years.

Dating at least to the 1960s, even the dumbest creators of TV shows and Hollywood films have known that they have to use phony phone numbers in their worthless productions. A special set of inoperative "555" numbers are often used.

In the current matter, it's unclear who is dumber—the people who began bombarding Kim Gil-young with calls, apparently thinking Squid Games is real; or the producers of the dystopian show, assuming they didn't do this deliberately to create a publicity incident.

How many viewers actually think Squid Games is real? There's no way to know from the news report, though it did include an unverified statistic:

HASSAN AND MOON (continuing directly): She explained that the flood of calls during the day and night was constantly depleting her cellphone battery.

“I’ve had to delete more than 4,000 numbers,” she said, adding that she was “quite taken aback” by the whole experience, which has resulted in some people swearing at her over the phone and others telling her about their financial woes.

“I’m trying to participate in Squid Game, is it possible?” read one text shared by SBS News.

According to this unverified claim, thousands of people may not have been clear about the fact that Squid Games is fictional. We'd score this as an instructive fact about the human condition.

Contemporary politics has taught a somewhat surprising, somewhat similar anthropology lesson. That lesson goes like this:

There's nothing so dumb that you can't get millions of people to believe it.

Many people seem to believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  Many people seem to believe the darnedest things about various aspects of the Covid crisis, or about the last election.

Why do so many people believe the darnedest things? In large part, it's because we live at a time when the peddling of misinformation is extremely big business, partly due to the rise of unregulated new industries.

Otherwise mediocre people are paid millions of dollars per year to perform this function on "cable news" TV programs. Very large sums are accrued elsewhere in the misinformation racket—through social media and talk radio, to cite two other major branches of the disinformation industry.

These people say the darnedest things—and other people believe them! This has become extremely common since the rise of talk radio, "cable news" and Internet activity in general.

Anthropologically, there's nothing so dumb that we humans won't believe it! This doesn't mean that we're "bad people." It simply means that we humans aren't exactly "the rational animal" when all is said and done.

Speaking colloquially, you have to be extremely dumb to believe Squid Games is real. Putting it more charitably, you may simply have to be human, with the sins that flesh is heir to.

In truth, we humans believe dumb things of many descriptions. This brings us to the column by Gene Robinson in yesterday's Washington Post.

We live at a time when "dumbness" is an extremely big business. In that sense, Robinson's headline spoke to what may be an existential question:

How dumb can a nation get and still survive?

That was Robinson's headline. We'd say that headline asks a good question. His column started like this:

ROBINSON (10/8/21): T.S. Eliot wrote that the world ends "not with a bang but a whimper,” but I fear our great nation is careening toward a third manner of demise: descent into lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy.

How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb? Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality? And how must this look to the rest of the world?

Read the headlines and try not to weep...

Robinson fears that "our great nation" (such as it is) may be dying of dumbness. We regard that as a very serious point of concern. Indeed, we've been offering that suggestion for at least the past ten years.

Our nation may be dying of dumbness, Robinson warns. But as he continued—as he cited those headlines—his specific meaning became clear:

The dumbness to which he refers doesn't belong to "the nation." Inevitably, every example of dumbness he cites only belongs to The Others!

For ourselves, we've been marginally biased against Robinson since June 1999, when he served as editor of the Post's Style section during The Clinton/Gore Hunt. That said, we take it as obvious that he's a good, decent person, as most people are.

We'd also say that columns like his are part of the general sprawling dumbness which may be our nation's end. We'd say that those Squid Game callers are caught in a certain lack of cognition. but we'd say that columnists like Robinson are caught in a dangerous lack of awareness too.

It's the oldest story in human history—the dumbness, idiocy and nihilism are all found Over There! Traditionally, this is the story we humans tell ourselves before we start our human wars—in Germany, in Rwanda, in Cambodia, but also within "our great nation."

The idiocy is all Over There, we're told. We liberals are fed this ancient tale every hour of every day through our tribal media. Our cable stars get obscenely rich as they ladle this pleasing porridge, and our doomsday hurries on.

We liberals! Quite routinely, we believe and say the darnedest things too! This creates The Way We Look to Others—and we're inclined to grade on the curve, adjusting our grades for "educational level" and for status within upper-end media or within the academy.

What sorts of Uniquely Dumb Things do we liberals say on a daily basis? Our scripted dumbness is simply astounding—catch the statement by the Northwestern professor in this report in this morning's Washington Post—and our dumbness tends to come at the world from the top of the heap on down.

Is it possible that we "liberals" are part of the dumbness too? Human brains are wired to reject such claims, despondent top experts all say.

The dumbness is all Over There, we liberals are constantly told. That's one part of the sprawling dumbness which has become a major threat to "our great nation," such as it actually is.

The Dumbest Thing Ever Said: It may be the dumbest thing ever said! Live and direct from the Washington Post, we highlight the statement below:

FOSTER-FRAU ET AL (10/9/21): Susan Graham, 70, identified as White until she took one of the popular DNA tests a few years ago. According to the results, she was 97 percent Ashkenazi Jewish—and 3 percent Black and Asian.

Graham, who founded an organization to advocate for biracial children like hers—her husband is Black—marked all three races on the census, and now identifies as multiracial, not White.

“If anybody asks me, ‘Are you multiracial?’ I would have to say yes, I’m multiracial,” said Graham, of Los Banos, Calif.

The popularity and ease of at-home DNA tests has led to a problematic conflation of genes and heritage with race, sociologists said. This has contributed to an unknown number of people marking multiple races on the census, despite having grown up identifying as one race, being perceived as that race and living in a culture that reflects that race.

“To say that translates to somebody identifying as White, Black and Asian because their genetic ancestry points to those places on the globe is just really wild and super problematic,” said Nitasha Tamar Sharma, a professor of Asian American and African American studies at Northwestern University. “I find this to be in some cases a really racist role of peak Whiteness.”

In truth, Graham's reaction to her DNA test may have tilted a bit toward the slightly dumb side. 

That said, the professor's reaction to Graham's reaction qualifies as Dumbness On The Grand Cosmic Scale. We'd have to say that such reactions are just really wild and super problematic!

Our professors do and say the darnedest things every day of the week. Every time these professors speak, more than 4,000 new Trump voters are said to earn their wings.

Some people think Squid Games is real. Other people are employed as professors at schools much like Northwestern!

We humans beings are all just alike. We tend to be captives of our tribes, top major star experts all tell us.


  1. This is nothing new. Remember the people who thought a radio show about aliens landing in New Jersey was real? It got Orson Welles in trouble. That wasn’t recent at all and suggests Somerby’s claim about increasing credulousness is nonsense.

    1. There’s less credulousness involved in thinking something that sounded identical to a news cast, was a news cast, than in believing that we were airing a real life version of the Hunger Games.


    2. The viewers of Squid Games may have thought that the producers deliberately showed a phone number that was connected with the show. Why should the viewer assume it was a mistake? It’s like hidden stuff you discover in computer games.

  2. Somerby is imparting the brilliant insight that people can be dumb.

    He should check out the book “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, by Charles Mackay, first published in 1841.

    1. Who suggested that credulousness was new to the human condition?

    2. Cecilia, Somerby did:

      “Contemporary politics has taught a somewhat surprising, somewhat similar anthropology lesson. That lesson goes like this:

      There's nothing so dumb that you can't get millions of people to believe it.”

    3. You’ve moved the goal-post for both Somerby and for Eugene Robinson- whose sited argument is that credulousness is getting worse.

      You’re arguing that these men think that people weren’t ever credulous in 1841, rather than our being more so today because of mass information and marketing.

      How credulous do you think we are to believe that stupidity?

    4. Somerby found it surprising that people can be dumb. That is a quote. Why should it be surprising that mass media spreads misinformation? The underlying truth is no different than it was in 1841, or any other time. I think Somerby’s surprise is probably a pose, for what it’s worth.

    5. And by the way, how many millions were swayed by the efforts of religious proselytizers to believe fantastical stories of dubious origin? And this was in the Dark Ages. So phooey on the faux-surprise.

    6. mh, and a great scientist of the time thought the sun moved around the earth.

      If you wish to argue that this was symbolic of our technological abilities at the time. as well as the influence of religion, You’d have a good argument.

      What’s our excuse now? If it helps you to see my point, by all means, use modern day Republicans as the world’s greatest marks.

      Go ahead. As with Robinson, I’m used to the fact that you’ll stop there.


    7. “According to this unverified claim, thousands of people may not have been clear about the fact that Squid Games is fictional. We'd score this as an instructive fact about the human condition.”

      No. mh, Somerby finds credulousness part of the human condition. What he finds surprising is how rampant it is in a more advanced age and he blames our technology and a lack of leadership and gate-keeping in making people more apt to trust nonsense, not less.

      That’s very straight forward, but you had to jump out of gate arguing what you gleaned by skimming the blog. (Let alone ignoring his point that this IS the human condition in that it’s shared by EVERYone.)

      ‘Bob thinks no one was ever a credulous fool before now!’

      Is that credulousness or just disingenuous on your part?

    8. No 1:52, Somerby is faking surprise and being coy about the issue. Clearly no one thinks the tv show is real, Somerby knows, everyone knows this.

      Somerby posts dumb things every day; here is the dumbest notion Somerby tries to push: there are significant numbers of Trump voters that potentially might vote for Dems. This is even dumber than his ignorance of time dilation.

      Like Kevin Drum's blog, dumb/provocative things are posted, prompting largely smart comments, along with a few right wing trolls out to own libs.

  3. Robinson’s examples of conservative dumbness are still true whether or not he lists examples of liberal dumbness.

    1. mh, you might consider your statement about the importance of truth the next time anonymices are complaining that Somerby is always peeing in his own tent.

    2. His examples aren’t necessarily true, you know.

    3. And not necessarily treason either.

    4. I wouldn’t use the word ‘treason’ to describe complaints and disagreements. That makes you sound like Trump. But it isn’t good if Somerby’s criticisms are wrong or overblown. I’m not saying they all are, but those that are need to be corrected. It’s all about truth, not tribalism.

    5. mh, I meant treason to liberals. You know..,the accusation that’s leveled almost daily.

    6. Cecilia, I would have addressed this to you privately, were that an option here, but allow me to say that I really appreciate the time and effort you spend correcting the sanctimonious and simpleminded “help” we are so ceaselessly given here by those who cannot, or simply choose not to, give what Somerby says a fair reading before they start blathering on. It takes a very patient intellect to do what you do, and I am often grateful to you for it, even though our views on politics, globally speaking, are often far apart.

    7. ...the accusation that's perpetrated almost daily.

      Fixed it for you.

    8. Eric, thanks. I have fun commenting and love reading the brilliant Bob Somerby.

    9. It says nothing good about you Cecelia, that you consider Somerby brilliant, Nice of you mother to give you a pat on the head.

    10. Seek professional help, Corby. You need a good shrink.

    11. Somerby is a bitter old man. You only enjoy the mean things he says about libs, but anyone can call names. Nothing brilliant here — just mean-spirited. But a certain type of conservative loves cruelty. That’s you.

    12. Corby, there is absolutely truth in what you say about my being here to enjoy the “mean things” Somerby says about the Left.

      However, it’s not just any mean things. I can go to a 1000 blogs and to Twitter if I wanted to bask in all the terribly mean and insulting things said about liberals.

      Somerby offers criticism about his tribe, our culture, our intelligentsia, and about the people who run our country. The latter being people who really aren’t very liberal or conservative anymore.

      I don’t know if that is Bob’s intent, but that’s what he does in my book, and in what I read and watch, mine is the only vote that counts.

  4. That liberals are dumb is a given, dear Bob, but what is it you, another liberal, find dumb about thinking that Demigod Barry might have been born in Kenya?

    Are you under the impression that Kenya is on Mars somewhere? That no humyn beings are ever born in Kenya? What is it?


  5. Russiagate was a hugely stupid premise that millions and millions and millions of people believed. Ask the idiot troll.

    Hey guys, guess what? The Trump campaign gave Russia some "polling data" in April and they used it to successfully steal an election 6 months later! Yes, really, the election in which both candidates spent over a billion dollars a piece was upended by 6-month-old "polling data" that a foreign country used to outwit the billion dollar campaigns!

    That makes perfect sense to me!

    1. Clinton lost 3 blue states by less than 70,000 votes combined, largely through vote sppression and 3rd party candidates. It was done by targeting black and Bernie supporters using social media. Polling data also assisted Repub down-ticket races. The polling data guided those campaign fund expenditures & don’t forget the foreign money channeled to Repub candidates via the NRA. It takes a lot of nerve for Somerby to ask why margins were so close!

    2. Russiagate was real and detailed in a report, which dumbfucks like 1:52 will never read. That investigation was tepid at best. Furthermore (or even aside from), Trump went on to obstruct the investigation with worse corruption than his Russia involvement. Afterwards he proceeded to have the most corrupt admin since...Bush, and then was so in love with his corrupt ways, he just did nothing with Covid, causing 700,000+ deaths, just to own the libs.

      Remember, this is the guy that raped his wife after getting botched hair implants, and later raped a teenager provided by his good buddy Jeffrey Epstein, so no surprise.

      Even if Russiagate was a nothing burger (which it wasn't), so what. All of Trump's other corruptions were also covered, Trump voters don't care; like Trump says, he can murder somebody in full view and they'll all still vote for him.

      So who is the real idiot troll? Brother, please, it's 1:52.

    3. Thanks for confirming you still believe in Russiagate and are one of the millions and millions of people who still do believe something so dumb, far fetched and unproven. And thank you for providing no evidence to support your claim and a disquisition on a number of matters that have nothing to do with the issue.

      There's nothing to be embarrassed about. You're one of millions and millions and millions of people who believe that dumb conspiracy. It was designed for you to believe and defend flaccidly as you have here - no matter how idiotic the entire premise was from the start and despite the fact top investigators of our country found a complete and total lack of proof regarding the issue and flatly rejected a lot of it in their report.

    4. Obviously your belief in Russiagate is psychological and being an obsessive and compulsive troll it is clear you have very deep psychological problems so really there's no use in trying to explain to you and show you how insane it is to claim that it was Russia with 6 month old polling data that used social media to swing Bernie and black voters in those particular states. The idea is completely and totally crazy. And of course you can't prove it so we may as well just leave it. You believe in Russiagate which will go down in history as probably the biggest propaganda fraud of all time. So don't feel too bad! You're one of millions and millions and the people that perpetrated the fraud designed it to directly play upon your partisan obsessions and intellectual gullibility.

    5. Oh, the butthurt Chavezite is back. Obviously, insane and compulsive belief that Russiagate was a fraud, but keep it up, some more cream will help.

    6. It's pretty obvious it was a fraud when you look at it objectively. What is wild is Russiagate was started by the Clinton campaign. Real sleaze ball stuff. I know, sounds really crazy. But it's true. Clinton started Russiagate and Trump never colluded or conspired with them. Trump was right all along that it was fake news. Maddow and Clinton etc were all wrong. In Clinton's case she was complicit. No big deal. Don't worry about it. It's water under the bridge now.

    7. No, it was started as GOP oppo research, then taken over by the DNC and partially funded by the Clinton campaign, assuming you are talking about the Steele dossier. Investigation by US intelligence not only confirmed Steele info but developed more intel. Mueller’s investgation showed both Russian interference and obstruction by Trump. Mueller , working for Trump, would not say there was collusion but the evidence is there. Maddow and Clinton were correct and you are a liar.

    8. Not talking about the Steele dossier but that was not started by the GOP. It was started and paid for in full by the Clinton campaign* although it was originally reported the GOP started it. That turned out to be another Clinton/media lie. Steele info was never confirmed. Steele himself confirmed under oath that his claims are unverified**. Which should be completely obvious as the world is not a spy novel and the entire idea of collusion was far fetched to the point of ludicrousness. (Not for you, I understand, but it's psychological, you need it to be true so you look past its absurdity.)

      Mueller’s investigation did show both Russian interference and maybe obstruction by Trump but said on page 2: "Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

      That is also completely obvious if you take the blinders off and realize Maddow and Clinton lied to you for years and years and years and still lie to you. Saying the "evidence was there" is an ignorant, pathetic cop out. The whole thing was a lie perpetrated by Clinton. But I understand you need it to be true. That's cool.

      (*) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/clinton-campaign-dnc-paid-for-research-that-led-to-russia-dossier/2017/10/24/226fabf0-b8e4-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html

      (**) https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/25/christopher-steele-admits-dossier-charge-unverifie/

    9. It will be important for you to eventually come around and accept and deal with the fact Clinton is a liar who has lied to you for years and years and she invented the Trump/Russia story. It doesn't mean you have to hate Trump less or think that Trump is good. It'll just be important for you to come to terms with that so we as a country can together deal with the shortcomings and corruption of the current two party system that led to Trump and led to Clinton's Russiagate lie. (and to an almost total takeover of the country by 1%/plutocratic forces.

    10. Man, the Chavezite is really frantic now. Maybe absence of butt cream means they have to cling to delusions. But no big keep deal, keep hoping for more Chavezite illusions.

    11. "Clinton is a liar..."

      That's all the proof I need that Russia fixed the 2016 election. I'm supposed to believe the Right somehow hates liars and wants them locked-up? That's not happening without some old KGB-style shenanigans.

    12. First you should ask yourself whether it was possible for Russia to have fixed the election. (It's wasn't. That's why you are believing something "dumb".)

      Then take a look at the Mueller report and you'll see his multimillion-dollar investigation came to these conclusions:

      "The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the IRA."

      "the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

      "The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation. "

      "The investigation did not find evidence the Trump Campaign recovered any such Clinton emails, or that these contacts were part of a coordinated effort between Russia and the Trump Campaign."

      Carter Page: "the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election."

      Mannafort "The investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian , the investigation did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.

    13. Think of how stupid your logic is. Your logic is because of the right are liars, that must mean that the left cannot also be liars. You're dumb as dirt. That makes it very easy for the propagandists. But hey, I'm sure you're doing the best you can with what you've been given.

    14. But Trump did collude. That can be proven.

      It's just that it was not with Russia.

    15. We remember hearing from Psycho-Witch's bots about a treasonous server linked to the Trump campaign that was colluding with a positively evil server belonging to a large private bank with headquarters in Russia.

      What else to you need? Case closed.

    16. Both sides are exactly the same, that's why I only criticize the Left.

  6. For the record

    "Al Gore, mocked as “Ozone Man” by Bush senior, certainly would have tried to head off the biblical floods and fires engulfing our country."

    Dowd today on "reality."

  7. Somerby says that every time a professor speaks, 4000 Trump supporters earn their wings. That’s ridiculous — Trump supporters don’t read professors!

  8. The last part of your column was really disappointing. You say something is dumb, nay, the dumbest thing ever said, and then... mic drop. That's not journalism or even critique; it's just invective. Why is that statement so dumb? I might be inclined to agree with you, but you fail to elaborate on anything. What kind of "gadfly blog" has this become?

  9. 'That said, the professor's reaction to Graham's reaction qualifies as Dumbness On The Grand Cosmic Scale. We'd have to say that such reactions are just really wild and super problematic ..Other people are employed as professors at schools much like Northwestern!'

    Whereas others are so epically dumb that they spend 4 years defending Trump, Roy Moore et al, and claim to be liberals. Such lying fools dig up obscure statements by obscure professors somewhere and froth at the mouth about it, often lying. They completely ignore insane statements coming from their Lord and Master Donald Trump claiming he won the election or touting the claims of a bogus audit as proof he won the election (although even the fraudit shows otherwise).

    This is not even bothsideism, it is a desperate attempt at justification by a 'useless idiot' for Trump. A tale full of sound and fury, told by a pathetic, losing Trumptard, signifying nothing.

  10. I was infected with Genital Herpes Virus six months ago, ever since then i have been searching for cure everywhere because i was feeling so uncomfortable with it. I have been dating for almost 5 years until i contracted Genital Herpes from my ex-boyfriend. Since then i became very sad about the whole situation, always going online checking if i could get a cure to Genital Herpes, then i came across so many testimonies. Due to my seriousness and eagerness to be completely cured, i became a victim of fraud after contacting several so-called herbal doctors i was referred to. I lost a lot of money but i didn't stop searching for a cure. Then one faithful day, i came across a testimony of a lady saying that she got her Genital herpes cured by a Great Herbal Doctor she called Dr ABOLO by contacting him through his email address. And he advised anyone with Genital Herpes or Simplex Herpes to contact the herbal doctor for Herbal Cure. I contemplated for about 4 hours whether or not to contact him. then something inside of me told me 'Nothing good comes easy'. I then contacted him through his email and told him my problem. He told me all the things I needed to do and also gave me instructions to follow, which i did properly. Just within weeks of drinking and applying the herbal medication he sent to me through dhl delivery service, i started seeing changes, i went to my medical doctor for check-up, i was so happy when the doctor told me i was no more having Genital Herpes Virus, it was all tears of Joy from that moment, People think herpes is really a minor skin irritation herpes has a long term effects on health and if i could ever meet a Genuinely Great Herbal Doctor. I'm so grateful to him. i am completely free from Genital Herpes Virus, i introduced a family friend who have Simplex Herpes virus to him, He called me and told me he was also cure completely. I promised to share my own testimony like that of the lady on the internet. Friends, if you are also struggling with Herpes disease you can as well Contact him via Email: draboloherbalhome@gmail.com or contact him on his whatsApp +2347044725611

  11. There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made certain nice points in features also.

    Click Here
    Visit Web

  12. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Gretuff, just great!

    Click Here
    Visit Web