Thursday, 14 December 2017

On Veracity: The Futurebabble Myth is Based on Simple Rhetoric about Complex Causality

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In the affairs of mankind it is seldom that actions do not stem from multiple earlier consequences. To better forecast our social future, this article argues that we need unprecedented investment in the social sciences, beginning on the scale of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Mike Sutton is the author Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret the book that famously used big data analysis to prove that Darwin and Wallace committed the world's greatest science fraud by plagiarizing the theory of natural selection from Patrick Matthew.

An article published in the Independent newspaper    contains a conveniently plausible and compelling rhetorical explanation for the newly discovered high level British police cover up of the inadequate safety, policing and emergency service provision at the time of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989. The rhetoric stems from the eminent lawyer Michael Mansfield's remarks about the British government's sponsored brutality of policing the 1984-5 Miners Strike and his rhetoric “…follows comments by ex-Home Secretary Jack Straw who said Margaret Thatcher's government in the 1980s created a "culture of impunity" in the police which led to the Hillsborough cover-up.”
The problem is that such seemingly powerful and believable rhetoric does not explain the complex historical reasons why the Police services and Thatcher were so anti-union and anti-football supporter that they saw fit to treat them with such physical and moral brutality. Moreover, all such post hoc ‘experts’, whether they are lawyers, politicians or academics, are only ever wise after the event.

A personal rhetorical explanation for union bashing

Many union members behaved incorrigibly in the 1970’s and early 80’s.For example, I remember the time when I worked in a factory in the late 70’s and an ex-RAF war hero (a bluff Scotsman) – who was a director - ensured that he personally knew the name of every single employee and would greet each of us as we passed one another whilst going about our mutual business. Back then, as a lowly seventeen year old production line worker, my daily greeting from Mr Webster typically comprised a bluff “Morning, Mike. (pregnant pause) ...Laddie”, to which I would always reply with a simple: “Morning Mr Webster.” Of course, I thought the "laddie" calling a little unnecessarily as a status marker between us. But then I was not a war hero and company director. If I wished to one day achieve respect of men like Webster I knew I would have to do more than work on a production line in a capitalist society that essentially views such workers as lower caste.
Then one day The Transport and General Workers Union (of which I was a member) called a meeting with the management and under threat of strike they made Mr Webster publicly apologise for demeaning the workforce by his unacceptable patronising behavior, which comprised of nothing more than calling grown men “laddie”.
No wonder the public voted Thatcher into office when such petty martinet union officials and managers alike were on a daily basis making a mockery of common sense, and so creating a culture of impunity within government that allowed them to crush unions and their members and communities. But knowing about such union stupidity at the time did not empower anyone to predict the Miners Strike and Thatcher’s subsequent destruction of working class British communities.
They say a nation gets the government it deserves. I’m no fan of Thatcher, but we need to realise that such powerful people themselves come from somewhere and gain popular support for a multitude of complex intersecting reasons, and possible reasons, some of which some people might believe to be career threateningly too taboo to mention, never mind seek funding to examine.

A personal rhetorical explanation for football fan bashing

To provide another personal reflection, this time of football hooligans and foul mouthed fans: when I attended football matches in Liverpool in the late 1970’s (aged 14 and 15) large sections of the crowd standing at one end of the stadium spent the entire match pointing and chanting in synchronized hooliganism at rival supporters at the other end with foul mouthed moronic chants such as: “You’re all gonna get yer fu**in’ heads kicked in!” followed by mass clapping and “You’re all going home in a fu**in’ ambulance!” No wonder the police and government had no respect for such fans who created a culture of impunity among the police by helping to cause them to stereotype all football supporters as foulmouthed and violent-scum soccer hooligans and morons.
Of course such wise-after-the-event knowledge and compelling rhetoric did not enable me or anyone else to predict the Hillsborough disaster, or the conspiratorial cover-up of the various organisational shortcomings that allowed it to happen.

General rhetoric in the social sciences

Cultural criminologists who write about such tribal football behaviour in the same hardly suppressed glorifying vein as anthropologists describing such events as the Ethiopian stick fighting    might understand more about the reasons for and consequences of such behaviour if they tried to understand and better develop ways of seeking to understand the complex causes and consequences of such violent “traditions”. Because compelling and plausible rhetoric is nothing more than an invented subjective cop-out that helps us to understand nothing more than that those churning out such work are producing explanations that are easily swallowed by those with an appetite for pseudo social science and easily digestible sound bites sponsored by credulous ‘believers’ who employ them in universities, attend their lectures, publish their papers and buy their books.

Have anthropologists, criminologists and other academics ever studied in any depth the myth making within own academic tribes? Not to my knowledge.

Anthropologists have for years waxed lyrical about the stories and traditions of various cultures. However, there is a saying that if you cannot say what something will do next then you don’t understand it at all. Where, for example were the ‘expert’ warnings from expert anthropologists that AK47 automatic weapon ownership among stick fighting tribes would lead to widespread massacres?   
In the natural sciences billions of Pounds, Dollars and Euros is being invested in projects such as CERN to discover what makes the physical universe work. Meanwhile we understand very little about what makes society tick. Apologists for this sad state of affairs will tell you that in the complex and chaotic social world that it is impossible to consistently and accurately predict what will happen next.
Humankind in all societies and at all times has created myths ancient and modern in order to bring understanding and to create culturally embedded “truths” to explain what would otherwise be unexplainable random events in nature and unfathomable general patterns of human social behaviour.
Most remarkably, research in the 1960s and 70’s    proved that many of the ancient myths and fairytales, regardless of where they originated, contain essentially identical core elements, which are to be found from examining the underlying structure of relationships among the elements of the story, rather than from the content of the story itself. Perhaps modern myths and supermyths    also have identical core elements, some of which might reflect the core element of religious dogma. In the same way that faith based religions seek to make sense of the world by offering us the thoughts of men dressed up as supernatural 'truths', might it be possible that the current orthodox explanation    that social behavior is too complex and subject to too many random events and contingencies to be capable of prediction be itself nothing more than a hugely ironic modern myth created in order to 'know' that it is impossible to know enough about society in order to reliably predict with significant accuracy what will happen next in the seemingly random nature of human affairs? If so, such a myth does nothing more than insist that we have credulous faith in the skeptical thoughts of others and that we should not commit the ignorant sin of questioning current 'knowledge' by raising and testing new hypothesis in this particular area. Have anthropologists, criminologists and other academics ever studied in any depth such myth making within own academic tribes? Not to my knowledge.

If myths are no longer good enough for explaining natural phenomena why should we continue accepting them when it comes to explaining human behavior?

Perhaps we should be seeking massive investment beyond the scale of CERN    if we wish to move beyond current mythical post-hoc rhetorical explanations for cause and effect in our diverse societies? What is more important, after all: (a) discovering interesting, useful and deadly stuff like how to split the atom and the existence of the Higgs Bosun particle or (b) accurately and consistently predicting when the next nuclear strike or holocaust will take place or the next economic disaster will occur unless we know how to effectively intervene? Perhaps predicting the future is not so difficult as we think. One promising route worth exploring further might be to better evaluate the effectiveness of PR, propaganda, public information campaigns and other attitude change initiatives   , and to improve evidence based practice in this area. After all, what do such behavior change initiatives seek to achieve if not to influence the future? And in case you were thinking that I've fallen foul of failing to consider Popper's fallacy of induction let me end on a question: isn't the entire notion of the fallacy of induction based on past evidence of the dangers of relying upon inductive logic, which ironically means that it is based on the very fallacy it seeks to reveal?

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