The man with the strident voice was still talking remorselessly away...
It was just a noise, a quack-quack-quacking...
This was not a real human being but some kind of dummy.
It was not the man's brain that was speaking, it was his larynx.
The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words,
but it was not speech in the true sense:
it was noise uttered in unconsciousness,
like the quacking of a duck.


"There is a word in Newspeak" said Syme, "I don't know whether you know it:
duckspeak, to quack like a duck."

To Orwell Today
Re: doublethink

I came across your site and I am finding it very useful in really understanding what Orwell was really trying to say....I was wondering if you could give me an example or two of how doublethink is used our social and political arenas...

thanks in advance!
-joseph from california

Greetings Joseph,

The phrase "keeping people safe" by giving them needles with which to inject heroin into their veins is a perfect example of what Orwell referred to as "doublethink". The fact is actually a complete reversal of what it says. In other words, what the phrase REALLY means is:

"keeping people UNsafe".

The same "doublethink" is recognizable in the other much-used phrase:

"harm reduction".

What this REALLY means is:


Recognize it yourself in the following excerpt taken from a story in today's news:

"...A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the government had launched an action plan in June calling for a review of harm reduction services to prevent the transmission of hepatitis C. Such services include the provision of new needles and the disposal of used ones."

Notice also that the "duckspeaker" (another Orwell word) uses the phrase "provision of new needles" instead of saying "giving out free needles" which is what they really intend to do. But of course, those needles aren't REALLY free. A company makes the needles and the government buys them from that company. And the money the government uses to buy the needles is involuntarily contributed to them by the tax-payer. And the price the heroin injector pays for using that free needle is incalculable, as is the price society pays. In other words, FREE isn't FREE. FREE is COSTLY, in more ways than one.

How about the "Department of Health"? Did you recognize "health" for what it REALLY is, ie UNhealth? And did you notice how they use the word "service" as if they were doing people a favour. And how about the word "prevent" thrown in for good measure, when what they're REALLY doing is "causing".

I hope that little exercise helped you understand what "doublethink" is. It's a very important concept from "1984" and other readers in the past have been confused about its meaning. The word itself is confusing, which is another example of Orwell's genius.

In any event, with those examples in mind see if you can come up with other examples of what Orwell referred to as "complete reversals of fact". The classic "doublethink" example Orwell used was how "the Ministry of Peace concerns itself with War; the Ministry of Truth with Lies; the Ministry of Love with Torture; and the Ministry of Plenty with Starvation."

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Epidemic among London drug users (gov't to give free needles for heroin to keep people safe from HIV/HepC). Guardian, Nov 12, 2004. Go to DRUG WAR & PEACE & EVIL PURVEYORS FEEDING OFF MISERY

22.Doublethink and 21.Crimestop and 22.Goodthink and 18.Newspeak


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~