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Measuring truth - Part 2

Part 1 of this series on measuring truth reviewed the decadence reflected in the absorption of the Orwellian model of political control. The paradox is that George Orwell's book 1984 was a parody on the Soviet Union and the Communist party. Although Russia is held up by many to be a malign influence, as if the Soviet Union and dominance of the Communist party still existed, it is self-evident that Russia is one of the most significant transition economies operated on democratic lines. In the meantime following the collapse of the "Cold War" Russia has opted for the "Peace Dividend" while The USA and its NATO "allies" have opted for a political regime that has evolved towards a corporate statist or a Fascist model with all of the elements described by George Orwell. As a result the different evolutionary states of human existence have gone into reverse leading to the following counter-evolutionary transition:

  • Foreign policies based on demonization of "enemies" illogical and emotion-laden appeals based on fantasy, generating fear amongst constituents and justifying aggression against largely imagined threats
  • A corruption of intellectual effort towards the support of the official narrative based on newspeak of a state where people turn their attention away from analyzing how mankind and nature works and accumulating knowledge on what is beneficial and prejudicial to mankind's state
  • The substitution of the spiritual state of improving that state of existence for mankind by efforts to marginalize those with alternative points of view, wholesale destruction of national infrastructures through wars that are justified on the basis of lies and a general creation of chaos and human suffering.

There is a direct and enduring relationship between true facts and our freedom.

Truth is the life blood of decisions that advance our human condition in a rational and peaceful manner.

This article describes some basic principles of the measurement of truth. As a basic conceptualization of truth we apply Willian Jame's definition as truth being "what happens". The problem is that what happens is often observed directly by few and anyone else will rely on someone's interpretation of what happened and a means of communication. However, truth is conveyed as an association of facts based on observed and often measured events (evidence) that are relevant to the extent that they shape some form of relationship between causal factors and outcomes. These relationships might be such things as a proposed policy by a political party, what government is doing in its macroeconomic management, the causes and prevention of disease, human and international relations, engineering and technological relationships, ecosystems or economics.

Facts and democracy

In the same sense the democratic process of constituents weighing up information to decide what they feel is in the best interests of their community and their families, it is clear that the more precise information they have access to, the more able they will be take informed decisions made through the democratic process. This modus operandi is good for democracy and the wellbeing of the population. It is therefore of vital importance to the upholding of freedom, to exercise an objective exercise of democratic choice, constituents must have access to as complete a range of facts as is possible. There is a direct and enduring relationship between true facts and our freedom. Truth is the life blood of decisions that advance the human condition in a rational and peaceful manner. The transition from one state to the next by raising mankind to a more informed and happy state therefore depends upon the accumulation of precise information and facts. Indeed, the higher states in this evolution, that is a social order considered to be a civilization, can only advance on the basis of facts.

Priors - the starting point in measuring the value of information


Priors are the probabilities or likelihoods that people assign to the certain facts existing or events taking place. Priors are based on experience and are not subject to a specific evaluation of evidence. For example individuals a, b, c and d all have different priors concerning a given issues. This state of affairs is represented by the wide separation of their priors at the top of the diagram below (stage 1).

However, as a result of four individuals sharing the results of an objective survey on the information on the issue in question their understanding improved and their priors on the likelihood of the event occurring move closer together (stage 2).

By observing the information gathered on the same topic as a result of detailed research the final position is a set of very close priors (stage 3). Therefore, as a result of careful review of factual information which helps bring people to a common opinion on an issue, even although there might be some minor difference of opinion, it is more likely that such individuals can find a common agreement to arrive at a conclusion of likelihood that are in agreement.
The value of information in a message is normally derived from people's priors concerning the content of a message (see the box on the right). If a person is informed that a specific event will occur, the value of that information depends upon that person's prior assessment of its likelihood and the likely impact of the event on that individual if it did occur. If the event was assumed to be of low probability by that person, then the message conveys information of value. If the person had already assumed the event would happen then the message contains little of value to that person.

The tactics of corrupting priors in elections

One of the most widely practiced corruptions of truth is through political party manipulation of information. The New Marxists attempted to change political strategies in the United Kingdom from one of opposing sides to one where the party objective was to hold onto power based on satisfying a broader proportion of the constituency. With Neil Kinnock as leader of Labour this didn't work. However, under Tony Blair it worked as a result of a more careful preparation. It was achieved applying dog-whistle techniques of communication. So focussed messages are sent to members of a specific interest group, or identified socio-economic grouping, stating that a political party supports and will enact legislation to support that group. This used to be achieved with political parties publishing vague manifestos and then providing opportunistic "clarifications" of aspects of the manifesto and where the clarification used would vary with whoever the politician was talking to. The minority groups referred to here are not just religious or ethnic, but are various types, including age, gender and profession-based classes, all of whom are particularly vulnerable to associating specific words and phrases with their own interests and a subsequent false assumption of support by the party. These same words and phrases would normally fly over the heads of those not in the group. Therefore the way in which politicians ramble off lists of the "values" they support is a way to keep the dog-whistle blowing. The target dogs, in each case, are minority groups who respond to the key words and assurances.

With "social media" this dishonesty is easier to apply because based on individual level profiles picked up from content supplied by contributors to Facebook and Twitter, political parties can send content to please one group while other groups cannot access that content and remain unaware of what was sent to an opposing group. At the same time, other groups can receive content that is diametrically opposed to content sent to other specific groups. In this way political parties can incrementally increase the size of their support base.

The fuzzier the manifesto the easier it is to convince interest groups and voters that "their interpretation" of a party's aims is correct and therefore they are more likely to vote for the party. The obvious paradox is that people with diametrically opposed views are duped into voting for the same party and the one that manages this deception.

The inverse of this process can also be applied by identifying individuals as supporters of a specific party ("confidential" party membership lists are hacked fairly easily) and sending content that misleads them into thinking the party they support intends to enact legislation that offends some aspect of their known value set.

Who is interfering in the elections?

With the growth in online services that analyse people's profiles, likes, dislikes, ethnicity, religion, age and others the system of voter manipulation described above has become a core activity of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and others. Whereas it is naively assumed that this monitoring of people's activities is solely for the purposes of advertising, the more pernicious application is in assisting national political parties send misrepresentations of the facts to corrupt information accessed by voters. Although there has been a drive with the corporate newspeak content to claim that the Russian Federation interfered in the last presidential election in the USA CybaCity has stated that no evidence has been unearthed and in any case it has been confirmed that voting intentions and vote counts were not affected. However, the same is patently not true of the interference in US elections manipulated through the main "high tech" corporations such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and others. The instigators of such corruption, however, is hardly the KGB but rather operatives working for the Democratic and Republican parties and different PACs. This undermining of the democratic process by national political parties represents a major constitutional crisis.


People vote for members of parliament or other representative bodies because they believe that the person up for election and/or their political party will act in a way that agrees with a person's preferences. However, throughout the world, it is at this juncture that truth as represented in an election manifesto becomes the victim of political party prudence freed from the shackles of voter preferences, until the next election. So for example in the UK, from an electorate of 46.8 million voters the decisions on policy and legislation pass to a body of 650 MPs corresponding to approximately one for every 68,000 registered voters or one for every 92,000 people. That is 0.014% of the population takes important decisions for the remaining 99.926%. The problem is that policy is seldom discussed with constituents but rather is moulded in London or Washington as an interaction between and even smaller groups of people made up of interest groups and a small number of political party agents or elected representatives. The dependency of political parties on corporate financial donations and their image or platform being sustained by corporate media means that, in this power game, constituents have virtually no effective say in decisions. Indeed, on the basis of the numbers of people making major decisions on policies, the UK and the USA both fall into the Autonomous category within the Decision-Maker Constituency function (DMCf) drawn up by Hector McNeill, the British constitutional economist. DMCf measure the percentage of the population deciding policy for the rest who are effectively excluded. The other categories are Factional and Participatory which involve more people being involved more directly in policy decision making.

As Lord Hailsham once stated, "We live in an electoral dictatorship!"

The relevance of this constitutional process of elections for the formation of government and the procedures followed to legislate to the measurement of truth is that people seldom secure in practice the truth that was promised when their vote is needed.

In the United Kingdom, the political parties and MPs voted to secure 5 year Parliaments to provide themselves with a reasonable time in power and to consolidate their standards of living and arrangement for revolving door post-governance positions. This extended parliamentary life is a guarantee that electoral promises will be overtaken by new events and the constituents will have no effective say in legislation drawn up as a solution.

First past the post

The British electoral system has a first past the post, winner takes all, as a result of votes as opposed to proportional representation. A strong advocate of this was Margaret Thatcher who felt this avoided tedious negotiations over each decision and the system meant things could "get done". The problem is that with the missionary nature of the Conservative and Labour policies at the time also meant that media contained diametrically opposed accounts of what the other party were doing and why the party concerned had a better solution. This sort of environment with respect to available information is not conducive to helping people's priors approximate as a basis for arriving at a practical consensus.
Illogical arguments that undermine truth

Politicians make use of a wide range of illogical arguments to "win" arguments. Many admire these tricks as a basis for "winning arguments" and a particularly "slick" or "deft" means of responding to searching questions or arguments. However, all are based on a subversion of the truth. The article, "Measuring truth Part 3" will provide explanation of how this corruption of information, which is tantamount to lying, is practiced.


Misrepresentation is a distortion of the truth based on intentional lying or by omitting key information from communications. This is most commonly found in politician's answers to pointed, but quite often, relevant questions. A common way of replying is to answer with a response to a question that was not asked, with a partisan statement a pro pro of nothing or to use a displacement statement attacking the questioner or his or her group/party. Displacement statements are crude and often involve using stereotypic negative caricatures of the questioner and usually used when the person being asked was unprepared for the question and doesn't have the intellect to think on their feet to squew the reply in a convincing fashion. This base technique is applied repetitively by Theresa May during Prime Minister's Question Time in parliament, and the government side beam or laugh at this basic lack of respect for questions raised in Parliament on questions of interest. The result is a contentious low level exchange devoid of any intellectual or substantive relevance to the people of Britain who can watch these exchanges on television.

One of the disappointing and frankly bizarre phenomena associated with this parliamentary clowning is that British journalists will quite often consider Theresa May to have won the argument when in reality she did not address the topic under discussion. When a direct question is not engaged, reflected upon and answered directly then the argument has been lost, not won. However, under today's low standards in journalism where assertion appears to substitute evidence and logical argument, those who can assert more convincingly and aggressively but with a straight face, are assumed to be winning the argument.