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Political and Corporate Truthfulness

by Peter Rose 3 years ago in opinion
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How do you know if a politician is telling lies—they speak.

Political and corporate truthfulness.

We have, in Britain, a trades description act that is supposed to ensure that all claims for a service or product are accurate and truthful. Advertisements for products often appear to avoid this concept; but it may be that everything is in the definition. For example water can be described as gentle and non abrasive, yet geologically it has been proven to wear through rocks. So a definition of water being non abrasive should include the comment, “within a time span of less than 20 years.”

Advertising and sales pitches, by companies; have a legal duty to be honest but no such legal requirement is placed on political parties. There are many similarities between the marketing manipulators of the global corporations and those of the political parties, all round the world.

Honest is defined as not lying, cheating, stealing etc. being trustworthy. Not false or misleading. I guess this last phrase rules out nearly all political statements

Truth is defined as the quality of being genuine, actual, factual. A proven or verifiable fact.

The problem of sorting out what is misleading and what is honest, is that it depends on the individual being addressed. Tell an astrophysicist that the moon is ten million miles from earth and they will know this is not true, but tell a 4 year old with little education and they have no terms of reference to know if it is a lie or not. This difficulty applies to politics as well. What a well informed international banker knows about international currency exchange rates, means they have a better chance of understanding a technical worded financial announcement made by a politician; (probably a better chance than the politician has.) While the average person has to rely on media explanations. These will vary enormously, depending on the style, knowledge and political preferences of the media in question. Truth then become what ever information you have. Truth becomes unreliable since there are several versions of truth, all claiming to come from the same base information.

Advertising uses this variable truth concept. A claim that 90 percent of people agree this product is better than a rival's, need only be supported by a survey of 100 people out of a potential customer base of millions. Some adverts even show, in a small discrete line of text at the bottom of the screen, one that is only visible for a brief time, saying how many people involved in the survey. How many people read this? How many question the validity of the claim? Is it misleading? The advertiser will claim it is a truthful and honest report on the findings of the survey. They will probably be reluctant to explain how the 100 people were selected or exactly how the survey was worded. Another trick, especially used by the multinational cosmetics suppliers, is the use of scientifically sounding words backed up by official sounding regulation bodies. Both the science and the regulatory bodies, probably came to life during a marketing strategy meeting.

When you wish to give information but do not want to tell the whole truth, you do not need to tell lies. Look at the wonderful “Disc World” books by Terry Pratchett, he tells philosophical truths hidden in humour, myth, and brilliant storytelling. You do not need to bludgeon people with lectures or lies. Lead people to find the truth, use humour in that, directing to reality and you will get far better reactions than when you tell lies.

Before the explosion of mass media and instant communication, politicians were among the good orators, but they gave the same speech a hundred times to a hundred different audiences, they had time to hone and improve, they had time to adjust emphasis to react to an audience. Now everything is instantly transmitted, pulled apart, reconstructed, misquoted and criticised by millions. Using the same joke twice, is not acceptable.

Paradoxically the universal suffrage that gives all of us, those over a certain age, the right to vote, may also have added to the incentive to be untruthful. The vote cast by an unthinking and poorly educated person, who accepts what they are told without great consideration; is just as valuable as a vote cast by someone who has made a study of the issues and knows if truth is being distorted. Since many politicians and the staff who advise them, are arrogant and have low opinions of everyone except themselves, they consider the vast majority come into the unthinking category of voter.

Political public opinion polls, to show voting intentions, can also be misleading, but for a different reason. The people questioned do not necessarily tell the truth. The days when a random selection of people walking past an opinion gatherer, felt “chosen” and tried to give honest answers have gone. Demographic selection and sophisticated poll methods are now matched by the response givers. They also know the game and know that political parties can be misled. Tactical voting is encouraged by some political parties, they do not seem to realise the poll responders can also play this game. This is a version of telling lies but it is also the ultra sophisticated party politics manipulators being given back what they feed out.

Even casual observation, coupled with curiosity and average intellectual energy; shows how much media information is actually advertising. Political advertising does not come so clearly announced as consumer product advertising, but it is just as much a sales pitch, as the promotion of a “new” colour lipstick. Truth is said to be the first casualty of war, a careful look at politics in the 21st century indicates we are in a perpetual war. It is a war fought on several fronts by several rival forces. It is a struggle between rival manipulators working for those who want power and those who the power is to be used on. That is us.

Truth is in very short supply in politics, firm manifesto promises become aims and objectives once the election count is finished. Grand speeches of what will be done, get trampled by pragmatism once in power. In some ways this is inevitable since world events are in a constant state of change and any politician in any country will find that once they are in power, achievement is way harder than it seemed it was going to be, while making promises and great speeches to their own followers.

It is up to us the voters, the ones being lied to by all sides, to make real efforts to discern fact from fiction, to consider probability against outright fiction. To consider the past history as a guide to the honesty of present promises.


About the author

Peter Rose

Collections of "my" vocal essays with additions, are available as printed books ASIN 197680615 and 1980878536 also some fictional works and some e books available at Amazon;-


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