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Posts Tagged ‘Technical Truths’

Truth, post truth, lies or one persons truth is another is another mans lies: falsehoods and technical truths are the order of the day, but filtering for fake news will just take mass manipulation to a new level

December 23, 2016 1 comment

truth-2

Whichever way we turn, we have started to hear the media using the term ‘post truth’ as a label for just about every piece of news with which someone, somewhere disagrees. Some are more direct and call these stories lies. But politicians and activists have been using the same methods that they do now that they have for generations before the events of 2016 were even thought as being the remotest of possibilities. The only thing that has changed is that this method of communicating politically expedient truths has simply been given a name.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that this as happened, given that both the result of the European Referendum and the US General Election went completely against the establishment script, leaving many of most skillful users of this manipulative dark art crying foul, simply because the very same weapon that they have used against so many, has been so effectively been used against them.

So what is the ‘post truth’ – It literally sounds as if we have entered an era where everything now being said and done in government has progressed beyond the point of being true?

To be fair, we often say to others observing and discussing the same events that we experience, that they are ‘unbelievable’. But this is a turn of phrase that doesn’t suggest that these events or what has been said is untrue. It reflects a reality that the acts of the political classes often defy logical explanation; that they present outcomes it would be unlikely to imagine, or that the stories we hear are of kind ‘that you simply couldn’t write’.

Words present a different challenge again and we must be mindful of the fact that a story which one person’s experience tells them is true, can all too easily be dismissed through the eyes of another who has had an alternative or perhaps wider level of experience.

Sadly, the world of politics long since arrived at the point where saying that something was true – but in reality only just from the point of view of the speaker, would mean they could make what are wilfully misleading statements, whilst ‘honestly’ painting that particular perspective or alternative reality as being true.

Doubling down or the art of sticking to the story or script makes watching media interviews with politicians from all sides absolutely cringeworthy. I am sure I have not been alone in wondering ‘why the hell don’t you just tell them the bloody truth?!’

Unfortunately that’s how today’s unethical and morally devoid political establishment operates and how it expects new entrants to always behave. Whether always being ‘on message’, accepting that as a junior politician you will be told what you will think, or simply becoming a vote to be used in government at the will of the party leadership as soon as the elections are over, that is the distasteful and utterly dishonest way that the current political regime works.

Trump, Cameron, Farage, Osborne, Johnson, Gove, Hannan, May and every figurehead politician we can identify as having played a role in key events this year have all been telling us their very own truths. What they are not however, are genuinely or completely false. And we should all be very concerned that there is now a growing movement at work which is looking to filter ‘fake news’ from the material that we read. A development which has been spearheaded by the work which Facebook is now doing.

Fake news in its genuine sense is a concept which social media has facilitated and a source of satire and ridiculous comedy that most of us thoroughly enjoy. The Poke, The Southend News Network, Newsthump and The Onion are but just a few of many more that we can as easily have posting to our newsfeeds each day.

We access them just the same as the apparently legitimate sources we read like the BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, or again a great many others too. Yet even they all promote the truths of the journalists, the editors, the companies that own them and the advertisers who pay the bigger part of their wages within them too.

People do know and understand the difference between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ news already. They do not need filters – which will inevitably contain the bias or prejudices of the people who run or program them – to ensure that they are only exposed to news that they can ‘trust’.

In a certain manner of speaking, no form of news can really be trusted today, as very little of the news we read or hear arrives on the screen in front of us without some hint of opinion being present. This has always been the case on a broader level within the various parts of the national press. But it does now seem to have become that bit more unpalatable to dissenters when a reader’s exposure to the ‘wrong’ stories through targeted material they often really want to read removes the chance that the alternative – or to others the ‘acceptable’ or ‘correct’ point of view will not be revealed to them.

If every reader or viewer were to engage with the news that reaches them by thinking critically today, the media industry would simply cease to exist overnight. But that doesn’t mean they are unaware of the realities and truths at some level.

It has long been accepted socially that opinion is what makes news sell and what turns ‘news’ into a product that we then want to buy. However, we certainly don’t want to read, watch or hear anything with which we don’t identify, and this is the indisputable truth that all of those who now want to control news for their own purposes will be very quick to deny.

image thanks to unknown

The Living Wage is as much Labours’ child as it is the Conservatives’ and their MP’s Band Aid parody highlights the political culture of creating policies which deny the realities of consequence

December 21, 2016 Leave a comment

labour-band-aid

The principle of the Living Wage or rather the concept that everyone should at least earn enough to provide them with a basic standard of living is a good one for many reasons. But in isolation, the coercive nature of such a policy being unleashed upon business and industry was always going to be seriously flawed.

The indirect impact and ripple-effect of this Policy – which have led to consequences outside of political control, were as poorly considered when it was launched and implemented by former Chancellor George Osborne as it was when it was first mooted by Labour Leader Ed Milliband.

That big business has adopted a rationalisation of employee terms and conditions as a method of offsetting the additional expenditure which the Government has effectively imposed upon them should not come as any surprise.

Profit is for many organisations a god after all, and whilst to many the implementation of the Living Wage appears to be a highly positive step in making life better for the lowest paid, it also overlooks many facets of its knock-on effects or indirect impact upon those it was not designed to benefit. Above all, it fails to consider the responses and choices that employers of all kinds would make as a result.

Whilst the behaviour of successive Governments and the City would suggest otherwise, for the rest of us, money doesn’t simply grow on trees. The impact of paying employees more money has many effects besides using up a company profit margin and whilst it may be a principled idea to expect business to warmly welcome such an apparently altruistic move, it is also extremely naive. Would these very same companies not already be paying everything to staff that these politicians expect them to, if the owners or managers making the decisions already believed the idea or principle was right?

Perhaps most concerning when considered in this context, should be the fact that in April 2017, the Living wage will rise by another 30p to £7.50 an hour, and that a further rise will follow the next year. The consequential impact of the Living Wage will become continue to become worse as it becomes more widespread, and the economies and efficiencies that have been made to service the inflation-busting rise so far, will simply become unsustainable as the costs escalate beyond where they are today.

There are currently too many factors outside of the control of government, such as the escalating prices charged for services and goods that are essential to a basic standard of living, for isolated meddling to have a genuinely sustainable positive impact. And that is without even factoring in whether the many marketplaces in which different organisations operate can sustain low margin companies paying their staff more.

As things stand, MP’s and activists can bitch about the injustices of the Living Wage all they like, as the story they are telling will in some ways certainly ring true. But until they accept that they must all think differently about how they address the impact of all that they do, it will continue to be the very same people they are telling us they are going to help who will be the ones who will ultimately suffer as a result.

 

image thanks to http://www.totalpolitics.com

Social labels and media-friendly umbrella terms are misleading everyone and politicians are too scared or too lazy to communicate the truth

December 13, 2016 Leave a comment

umbrellaYou’ve perhaps heard it said that the simplest use of language is the most intelligent. Great writers such as Orson Welles have been quoted for their direction in trimming unnecessary word use too. And within a culture where the use of subtext allows many of us to make guesswork of messages that we could all too easily say, it might sound strange to suggest that this process could go too far.

Words are truly fascinating things. But we are experiencing times when simplification and the focus of broader meaning down into one or very few words – often for the purposes of marketing or political expedience – has created a cult of watchwords or polysemic terms which overtly mean just one thing, but do in fact hide a multitude of different meanings, which can be as diverse as the number of people reading or indeed using them.

It doesn’t sound like much of a problem when we think about the way we see the world, because its all too easy to assume that everyone uses the same words for the same things as we ourselves do.

The problem is that they don’t.

On a day by day basis, those differences may not be so big as to cause any great problem, and discussing the structural differences and the relative meanings of there, their and they’re, probably creates more humour than it ever will do some level of dangerous misunderstanding between two or many more people.

So what is it I’m trying to say so simply here?

Well, oversimplification of language and/or meaning is not only flawed, it is also fundamentally dangerous. That narrowing dialogue down in to terms which the speaker or author understands takes for granted that the reader or listener will do so too. That people with responsibility to communicate a message should be mindful that the words they use may not generate the same understanding for those who hear.

The profundity of what is becoming a menace, cannot be illustrated better than the use of the term ‘immigration’, and the significance that its use has and continues to have in relation to the debate over Brexit, our relationship with the European Union, and also the different lenses that we are all using to picture the political viewpoints of people across the political spectrum.

So let me ask the question; what do you think of when you hear the term immigration?:

  • Welcoming refugees?
  • Being burdened with unwelcome economic migrants?
  • Creating cultural diversity?
  • Destroying our National identity?
  • Helping those who need our help the most?
  • A source of cheap labour?
  • The loss of British jobs?
  • Long queues in A+E?
  • The source of the housing problem?
  • The reason its so difficult to get an appointment at the Doctors?
  • No place for your children at your most local school?
  • An opportunity for our children to learn other ways of thinking?
  • An opportunity for us to learn other ways of thinking?
  • We are importing terrorists?
  • Being made to feel like a foreigner in your own country?
  • Everything that is wrong about Europe?
  • Everything that is right about Europe?
  • That everything will change for the better if its stops?
  • That everything will go wrong for us if it stops?

The chances are that it could be any one or perhaps more of these or many others., and almost without exception, there is a duality to the particular meaning that it may have, which depending on which side of the Brexit coin you may sit, will be conversely mirrored by someone who sits on the other side.

Knowing that immigration is a word with such diversity of meaning, and that it also makes people think as it is said was in some respects the greatest genius of the Leave Campaign message. However, it may also have been the most dark, bearing in mind that it is clearly the case that the use of a dog whistle of this kind has inadvertently let a rather large genie out of the bottle in terms of the broad misunderstanding of other people that we might previously have thought we understood.

For instance racism in its genuine, un-nuanced and non-pc promoted sense is thankfully rare. But immigration to those few amongst us has always represented the unwilling acceptance of difference within our communities and its end, the removal of all other kinds. These are the few who have shamefully found new confidence in their ignorance and bigotry, taking their vitriol to our streets and transport since the 23rd of June to offend people who have done nothing to deserve such intolerance.

However for those looking on with the moral certainty that Remain was always the enlightened path, this intolerance of immigration must surely be representative of all people who voted Leave on the basis of the immigration question.

Call it being tarred with the same brush or death by association, the fear and frustration that the collapse in public services which has correlated with the arrival of mass immigration is seen as excuse enough to cast many people who want to do nothing more than go happily about their normal lives in safety in the light of thugs who desire no such thing. And all because these issues have been narrowed down into just one thing, which itself overlooks the reality of the role of the EU in immigration in the first place when the matter is correctly put into context by the role of Globalisation.

It seems there is a lot to be said about simplifying language into more accessible terms. But the access can itself can go too far, and the travesty is that simplification of this kind is not rare and is continuing within the government and media sphere all the time.

Take ‘hard Brexit’ and ‘soft Brexit’. What do these terms mean to you?

Whats about JAM’s (Just about Managing). Isn’t that the experience that most of us are having too?

The travesty of using terms like these, is the damage that their being misinterpreted or misunderstood creates. It is distinctly unintelligent to heap so many meanings into such basic terms and then expect everyone else to understand them.

They don’t. and social, demographic or political labelling of this kind is merely serving to create even greater distrust and disenfranchisement than that which shook the establishment with the No Vote in June.

People are never wrong when they understand things their own way, using the lense that their life experience has given them. Some of us would risk simplifying this to the term ‘living in the real world’ and until our leaders begin to respect the people they collectively represent and stop treating us all like an audience which is a seedbed for manipulation, the electoral shocks will continue to come.

Make the effort to put ideas, problems and policy into terms that are easy to understand. But please do us all a favour and stop being lazy as you do.

 

image thanks to source unknown

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