Bovine Selective Visual Impairment (often shortened to “BSVI”) is a nervous system condition characterized by a peculiar inability to distinguish between live, healthy bovine specimens and empty space. The severity of blindness may vary greatly from patient to patient, but the majority simply cannot under any circumstances see cows.

What causes it?

The exact circumstances under which BSVI develops are still somewhat of a mystery to researchers, though it is believed to take hold early in infancy. Ironically, a severe Vitamin D deficiency is often linked to the onset of the disease later in life1, something preventable through the regular consumption of milk. Two model theories are generally accepted as being the best explanations:

  • The problem is not actually with the eye itself, but rather stems from the brain’s inability to process the image of a cow, perhaps as a result of childhood trauma or a rare genetic defect. This theory comes under fire, however, when one considers the fact that BSVI patients can typically see other things in the shape of cows, such as cardboard cut-outs in Chick-Fil-A advertisements and cartoon characters in childrens’ television programs2. Thus, more weight is given to the second theory:
  • BSVI patients suffer as a result of their parents’ sins.

What are its effects?

The term “blindness,” of course, encompasses a broad spectrum of vision deficiencies, and BSVI sufferers often find that bovine-viewing difficulties vary between various sub-species of cows. Regardless, some trends do exist:
Kobe beef traditionally comes from a stock of cows called kuroge Wagyu in Japanese, raised in luxury on a few hundred tiny farms in Hyogo prefecture, Japan. Kobe beef is graded higher than prime world-wide, and as such it may come as no surprise that these cows are notoriously troublesome for BSVI sufferers, for whom Wagyu cows seem to open a visual rip in the time-space continuum. On the other hand, Holstein dairy cows are generally easy on the eye.3

BSVI sufferers tend to exhibit a strong aversion to milk. In clinical interviews conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients consistently stated that they simply cannot trust milk, as it comes primarily from an animal that they fear, loathe, and love simultaneously. 4

Similarly, rodeos are staging grounds for intense bouts of terror; cowboys seem to fly randomly and acrobatically through the air in a demon-possessed fashion that those who can actually see the bulls cannot come close to comprehending.5
Regardless, many BSVI patients do see something when looking in the direction of a cow, though it often manifests itself as more of a shapeless blur than an actual organism. Descriptions of what some patients see have varied from “that weird-looking shadow in that field over there” to “that creature that stalks my dreams.” World-renowned scientists from Mexico’s National Cryptoozoology Laboratory speculate that encounters with Bigfoot, El Chupacabra, and a host of other (allegedly) mythical creatures may in fact be the mistaken identifications of undiagnosed BSVI patients. Strong evidence in favor of this hypothesis exists: Loch Ness Monster reports skyrocketed between the months of October and December in 2000, a time at which Scottish authorities ordered cattle farmers to dispose of thousands of cows due to an outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease). The majority of these specimens were simply thrown into the loch as a sacrifice to Nessie by particularly superstitious Scottish farmers6.


At this time, no cure exists for BSVI. The suffering it causes may be decreased through any of these means, however:
  • Moving away from areas in which cattle farming is the primary trade.
  • Morphine.
  • Hypnotic therapy, in which the psychologist suggests a visual connection between cows and some other pleasurable mental object. (This can sometimes have disastrous results.)
  • Lowering the patient’s body thetan count through excommunication of the body’s impurities. (This process is costly, however, and may involve interaction with the Church of Scientology.)

1 ”Dietary Deficiencies and Bovine Selective Visual Impairment: Linked?" Mayo Clinic Journal. Issue 5 (2004): 34-98.
2 ”I Can See This Cow, But I Can’t See Other Cows.” Princeton Child Psychology Quarterly. Issue 2 (2002): 57-61.
3 ”Kobe Beef Presents New Development in BSVI Enigma.” Cattle and Rifle. Issue 2 (1998): 12-14.
4 ”How Can You Not Like Milk?" Mayfield Monthly. Issue 1 (2007): 1-60.
5 ”Why Aren’t They Laughing?" Rodeo Clown Magazine. Issue 29 (2006): 8-12.
6 ”A Brief History of Quirky Mad Cow Facts” Modern Medicine. Issue 11 (2004): 32-49.

Dear Dr. Augustine,

I am well aware of your reputation as one of Everything2 and the world's finest scientists. However, I find your article on "(blank) Selective Visual Impairment" (although very interesting) rather troubling, largely because it contains many empty spaces in places where one would expect to find words.

I understand that the subject of your discourse concerns a grazing, possibly ruminant beast which may appear as a different creature to the sufferer of the malady that you describe, who may also experience a complete inability to see these animals and related objects. May I suggest that a form of this terrible disability extends to the inability to see words and concepts related to the creature?

Being affected myself, I cannot say what this fantastic beast that you speak of might be. I have, however, observed the occasional herd of yeti or dementors peacefully grazing in fields in the states of Kentucky and Indiana, even though it is a well-known fact that the husbandry of these creatures is not practiced in North America. On occasion I have observed subspace fissions, wormholes, and fuzzy images of a bald gentleman in a red tunic when driving past such fields. I am also not allowed to give blood because they say that I may have "mad (blank) disease" on account of being a native of the European continent and sometime resident of the British Isles. I do understand that many other cultures view us as being utterly barmy but calling it a disease so awful that they had to bleep out the middle part always seemed a bit unkind. Perhaps I am missing something due to my affliction?

The possibility of having a disorder such as you describe is not new to me. Several years ago, I discovered that I had a problem seeing wildebeest. For a long time I understood this to be a form of Selective Visual Impairment but this was resolved when my therapist determined that it was due to the fact that I do not live in Africa. He then helpfully suggested acquiring cable television and watching channels with nature shows. This solved the problem. I can now see wildebeest on an almost daily basis, along with meerkats, lemurs, and a plethora of exotic mandibles.

I take morphine three times a day and my thetan count, thank Xenu, has been minimal since 1993 so those therapeutic approaches don't seem to work for me. Please let me know if switching to another broadcast medium such as satellite TV and acquiring more channels would help me see the creatures of which you speak. I would be even more grateful if these creatures could also supply a calcium-rich substance with which to enhance my coffee and make pudding.

I am aware of the ramifications of posting an article under a title that I cannot see but am willing to take a chance in order to solicit the help of one of the eminent scientific minds of our time. I anxiously await your response.

Selectively Yours,


Upon reading the articles under the heading Bovine Selective Visual Impairment I was confronted with several questions in my own mind. Now, being one to never leave a good (or even bad) question unmolested, I went in search of answers.


Most of my searches for knowledge or information find me turning to my good friend Google. Google and I have an ongoing relationship that has endured longer than at least 2 of my marriages, and with far more satisfactory results. I've never had Google turn me down for requests that I considered reasonable, or fix me with an icy stare. In fairness I must add however that I've made few requests of Google of a conjugal nature. Google is my friend, and like any good friend is only too happy to comply with my simple requests.

A multi-layered problem

Looking into the nature of BSVI reveals that the disorder is not a simple one but part of a complex array of allied presentations. Sufferers of this disorder have been noted to possess the inability to view bovines, associated products, and artwork and/or graphic representations of the aforementioned quadrupeds. In the most severe case I was able to research a victim of the disorder couldn't even bring himself to ask the eternal question "Who cut the cheese?" The question to that individual simply dangled off into a vaguely smelly nothingness.

Health concerns

Other persons saddled with this peculiar inability find difficulty shopping for certain brands of desktop computers which are usually packaged in a characteristic black and white patterned corrugated container. If that were the only problem it would be quite innocuous, but sufferers have been known to stumble over unseen boxes containing these electronic devices. Several have required visits to emergency rooms for treatment as a result. Treatment of these individuals has resulted in a backlash from the undocumented alien or 'guest worker' population found at any hospital emergency room. The situation is exacerbated by the inability to speak Spanish shown by the majority of BSVI patients. Grants are being offered by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to investigate whether this linguistic failing is in fact part of the entire BSVI complex. Until answers are found the gridlock seems unbreakable. Many hospital emergency departments are advising patients to schedule their accidents at least 6 weeks in advance of anticipated need for services.

Political impact

The BSVI problem extends throughout society. It not only presents a medical and safety issue but extends into the body politic as well. It is well realized that the President is a lame duck. Both major US political parties have the opportunity to pursue the presidency without the built in advantage (or disadvantage)of running against an incumbent.

The Democratic front runner has been generally regarded to be Hillary Clinton. Imagine her frustration at finding that many potential voters cannot see her in the televised debates, campaign ads, and similar visual aids to her campaign. To make matters even worse for her, endorsements by Rosie O'Donnell, Maya Angelou, and (strangely enough) Barney Frank are totally invisible to the BSVI afflicted.

Senator Clinton has recently introduced emergency funding legislation to be made available through the Department of Health and Human Services to find a solution to the malady. Sadly, and especially in light of her heroic efforts to help BSVI afflicted persons, the funding has been bottled up in committee by fellow Senator Edward Kennedy, who has never had any problem seeing cows or alcohol. Ted Kennedy has stonewalled the funding unless agreement is reached regarding funding for highway improvements, including a series of large rubber bumpers to be installed on the bridge to Chappaquiddick Island in his own state of Massachusetts.

Call to action!

My research has turned into a harrowing quest, a gaze into the face of a pandemic of historic proportions. Initially I was prepared to laugh the whole matter off as scare mongering by a special interest group seeking funding for their pet cause. That is not the case. I have found that BSVI could be no less than the end of democratic government in the western hemisphere. If left to its inevitable and frightening conclusion, in half a century the only vestiges of democracy could exist in certain backwater areas such as Iraq, Iran, and possibly France.

I would like to enlist each of you in an effort to move our legislators to act immediately to stop this malady before it brings an end to western society. Only with your concerted help can we hope to evade certain destruction. Let your representatives know in vivid detail that now is the time for us all to have free and unfettered access to cows!

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