Monday 5 June 2017

Distortional Representation - The New Politics

Distortional Representation: When a statement is made by a person with one intention, but is twisted around by a receiving person, or people, and repeated in a provocative way to mean something different. As a result, no amount of come-back explanation will then be accepted in support of the originally intended meaning.

Distortional Representation can be accidental or deliberate. An accidental example might be a text message or an email, sent with one intention, but interpreted by the recipient in a completely different way. This is quite common and is a result of not being able to interpret other simultaneous signals, such as, facial expressions or voice intonation. Another reason for misinterpretation, could be the mood of the recipient at the time of reading the message. If the person is already feeling annoyed, this angst could be conveyed to what is being read. This is why it is important, when you send a written message, to re-read it in different ways, to see if it could be misunderstood. One way to help reduce misunderstanding, is to use emojis :-) or abbreviations (lol). Accidental examples:

'If you'd done what I told you, we wouldn't be in this mess!'
'If you'd done what I told you, we wouldn't be in this mess!' (lol)

'Will you tell Steve...'
'Could you ask Steve...'

Deliberate examples of the type we typically see in media reporting, are like these. Notice too, the use of upward intonation, at the end of the replies, to convey indignation in the form of a question:

Person A: "I believe we should always try to resolve conflict through discussion."
Person B: "So you're saying, you wouldn't hit anyone?"

Person A: "It would be more cost effective to use some of the left-over paint for this job."
Person B: "So you're suggesting we should make do with out-of-date and inferior materials?"

Person A: "We need a time for reflection before acting inappropriately."
Person B: "So you're just going to do nothing?"

To accomplish Distortional Representation effectively, the transmitting party must illicit a particular response in the witnessing receivers. Being forceful and charismatic, repeating any emotive words, in a provocative manner, is used to create an emotional trigger response in receivers. Those receivers will often feel a resonant connection, in their own life experience, whether actual or believed, and if a further link can be connected to, or associated with, for example, past historical atrocities, in ways that the receiving audience feels should be off-limit, taboo subjects, then outrage is complete and the deflection through Distortional Representation, is complete.

Politics is possibly much more about marketing than it is about policies. Several approaches have been tried over the years, from the rule of threes - 'no, no, no.' and 'a better this, a better that, and a better the other.' All the way through to patronising platitudes - 'hard working families' and the 'great British public.'

It often feels as if a team of people have put together special political training resources... oh, hang on a minute... they have:
  • The 'Plausible Deniability Pack'.
  • The 'Unthreatening Hand Gesture Training DVD' (with free mirror).
  • The 'Paul Daniels Misdirection Manual'.
  • The Groucho Marx, 'Ask and Answer All Your Own Questions' (worksheets).
The always now used personal favourite, has to be answering one's own questions - stopping the interviewer from changing your subject, whilst giving the listeners what they really need to hear: 'Do I want a fairer Britain? Yes I do. Has our party got the right policies in place? Yes it has.' 

Then we went through a period, when politicians started to carefully hide small untruths and, when found out, used various techniques of misdirection to smooth over the cracks. There then followed a policy of declaring outrageous changes, letting the public express their upset and anger, and once that had died down, bringing in the changes, largely unannounced, a few months or a year later, to little, if any, protest - often at a time when something else was stealing the headlines, such as a major death in the story plot of a TV Soap, or better still, a terrorist event.

Anything that frightens and causes panic in people, provides an opportunity to bring in sweeping changes, that under other circumstances, would never be permitted by a society.

Over the past few years of governance, politicians have stopped worrying about covering their tracks. Blatant dishonesty and lying has become the norm. Outrageous true stories have beggared belief. It is no wonder that similarly generated stories, linked together with the popularity of social media and 'click bait' monetised articles, have resulted in a lot of 'Fake News'.

But what about the 'facts'? Why are we not listening to, and taking notice of, all the rational and educated 'experts' when it comes to making informed choices about our personal and our country's future? Well, there could be a number of reasons:
  1. Losing faith in experts, when we were convincingly told something that later turned out to be incorrect.
  2. Feeling that our opinions will be overruled - 'they' will do it anyway.
  3. Feeling innately uncomfortable with something we are told is for our own good.
  4. Not being able to relate our own experience, to the information being promulgated.
  1. Going back a few years, the first time we began to openly lose trust in our 'experts', was around the BSE cattle crisis. Other instances followed, such as insistence on an MMR vaccine, rather than separate vaccines, where expertise started to sound more arrogant than informed. 

  2. We have also now reached a point where politicians have stopped caring whether or not they will be 'found out' when telling us porkies and despite their lies being quite transparent, we have got used to this being 'the way it is'.

  3. Imposing restrictions on a populace, because of the generated perception of personal threat, enables a government to quickly pass into law, measures that could be far-reaching in detrimental ways to, for example, freedom of speech and information, or human rights.

  4. When a politician talks about 'hard working families', it comes across as their patronising way of trying to placate an underclass of people who's lives they know little about - the well-to-do, standing shoulder to shoulder with the proletariat and often, financially dispossessed.

But now, there is a new tool in the political armoury - what I am calling, Distortional Representation. We have already seen it occur in the recent past, with Ken Livingstone's comments, misreported in a way to suggest strong anti-Semitism - effectively ending Livingstone's credibility and political career. I am not saying I am a fan of Livingstone, but I did observe the distorted reporting at the time, offered up with loud, provocative, and often charismatic anger, lodging in the minds of people ready to be outraged by well chosen sound-bite extractions for media dispersal. 

We now witness the same approach, applied to the leaders of the two main political parties - Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. However, given that the Conservatives currently hold the power, it's easy to see why the mainstream media sways towards May and away from Corbyn. Political commentators can have a lot of influence in the way a public audience receives information, through audio-visual broadcasts and other media, and if they repeat a distortion of what is said with particular intonation or emphasis, it's quite easy to influence opinion in many of the listening, reading, or viewing public. This technique is made easier by the fact that few people really listen, and fewer still, bother to think about anything in any depth. Dramatisation, outrage, and shock, are the things we naturally react to.

It's very challenging to write an article on this subject, because I know that everyone has a personal opinion, based on their own understanding of the reality they experience. We always gravitate towards those who agree with our own opinions. You might call it a tribal approach to living. Personally, I can see, and to varying degrees understand, merits in most opposing opinions on a variety of subjects. No one has the perfect answer and no one really holds the truth. In fact, truth only becomes accepted as truth, when enough people agree on something - regardless of whether that truth stands up over time. Unfortunately, we have developed a world where 'fighting' for one's truth then takes over. Instead of the truth unveiling itself, it comes down to a battle of the physically superior. The people who can bomb the shit out of any opposition hold the rightful truth.

Quantum Mass Structure of different beliefs

In 2011, I gave a talk to a small group of scientific researchers, in Barcelona, called 'Quantum Mass Superstructures'. A year later, this became a book by the same name, with the additional strap line of: 'creating the world you experience'. Within this book, I talked about how the world was now full of different creative thoughts and opinions and how the advent of the world wide web (Internet) had enabled all these views to be expressed and easily accessed. However, build-ups of strong views would ultimately meet in varying degrees of collaboration or opposition, often creating equal divisions of beliefs about reality. At such times, you either get great positive, and creative changes, or horrifying and upsetting, negative disturbances.


Thursday 1 June 2017

Manifestos To Go

Searches online for the main two Manifestos arrive at Labour's slightly quicker than the Conservatives - and you can then download pdf copies.

The Conservative Manifesto (used to link to a a pdf file) totals 88 pages, and appears to be written (as a friend said) 'like a report of accounts, rather than information for normal people.'

The Labour Manifesto (used to link to a pdf file) totals 128 pages, and appears to have content that is easier to digest.

One of the big issues I have had with some of the rhetoric, particularly from the Conservatives, is their American approach to selling their ideas. You speak for several minutes on the benefits of what you are offering, but refuse to let on what, exactly, you are offering that will produce those benefits. You get this a lot with American selling of personal development programmes. Half an hour of how great the programme is and what wonderful benefits you will receive, and how you will be much richer, in every way, by the end of the course. At the very end, it offers a single payment option of $500 or 4 payments of only $125 each. But of course, there are no guarantees that the programme will live up to its hype, or enable you to earn back your money in the first year of putting the training into practice.

You speak for several minutes on the benefits of what you are offering, but refuse to let on what, exactly, you are offering that will produce those benefits. 

If nothing else, one thing we have all learnt about Politics and Politicians, of any side, is that you cannot believe promises made to get into power and you cannot believe monetary figures  relating to how things will be paid for. The truth is, that no politicians can know for certain, exact figures. Everything is based on positive projections of best possible outcomes - not on what is in the vaults. Having worked in a number of organisations over the years, I have lost count of the times that bids were won on low outlay promises, but once won, suddenly required additional support to continue. Those that put in more realistic [higher] bids, often lost out. As another friend once said: 'Better to ask for forgiveness, than beg for permission.'

The remit laid out in the Conservative Manifesto is impressive in its scope and breadth and if I were to accept it at face value, I'd certainly be tempted to vote for them. However, it is promising much more than can reasonably be achieved or delivered - given that the past few years of essentially Conservative led governance has failed to come close to achieving most of the promises now being re-presented in new wrapping. Having been trained in secondary teaching, at the time of the introduction of the then new 'National Curriculum', the aims and objectives were both noble and encouraging. However, the reality, once at the cutting edge of the classroom, left much to be desired.

In trying to decide on who you should vote for in this coming UK Election, ignore the focus on glamorous spin; forget talk of where money is going to come from; and do not get groomed into thinking that the slickest presentation is going to give you the best desired outcomes. In addition to taking the time to consider, first hand, the Manifesto pledges, go with your gut instinct and your heart. If something sounds too good to be true, on either side, then it most likely is. The time for easily conjured statistics and manufactured 'rational' argument, has passed in this country. There are too many disconnected public opinions to wade through and both camps will argue for their own truths with immovable conviction.

Read through the Manifestos carefully and make sure you understand fully, what is being said and offered. If necessary, shut yourself in a silent room without distractions of people, newspapers, mobile smart devices, and television, and see which Manifesto produces the clarity you are really looking for and consider the implications of your choice, both for yourself and for society as a whole. Ask more questions, do some further research on and off line, if you need greater clarity. Ask yourself this question: What do I believe and why?

Now might also be the time to recall the expression, 'a Leopard cannot change its spots', when you read through these Manifestos. You may justifiably reflect on some of the woes of the previous Labour Government, but also bear in mind, that the Conservatives have now had a considerable amount of time to improve many of the things they are now talking about improving. Why have we not already seen some indication of these 'improvements', at street level? Despite their protestations, our society is showing a lot of cracks at present. A lot of those infamous 'hard working families' have not seen measurable improvements in their circumstances for several years and many young people are struggling to start out on their own. If you really feel you can say, 'sure there have been improvements', then how long has it taken thus far, and by a process of considered extrapolation, how long do you realistically expect it to take, to reach the final promised outcomes?

The current Government talks about delivering its promises, and perhaps at a country level of 'holding our heads above water', this has some truth. However, where it needs to be felt, at domestic street and home level, it is evidently not being felt.

Click on the images below, to read the Manifestos.



One of the complaints we hear a lot, is that the different political parties cannot produce accurate clarity on their funding.

Presumably, after the pro-Brexit campaigning, some lessons have been learnt about bandying about monetary figures - better not to mention too many specific costs that could come back and bite you later!

Apart from this, we surely have to accept that leaders on all sides are bound to make a few gaffs along the way, when doing the endless and tiring rounds of media promotion for their respective causes. Furthermore, the snap [U-turn] election, took everyone by surprise, and to be able to put together detailed Manifestos in such a short space of time, is quite an achievement.

A big bone of contention, between the parties, is the situation surrounding Britain's National Health Service. The Conservatives haven't endeared themselves to supporters of the NHS and May has said very publicly, that she is a supporter of the Naylor Report, which essentially puts the current NHS Trusts in a difficult position.

In a somewhat surprising turnaround of recent events, the concern that George Osborne's running of the London Evening Standard, might lead to biased reporting in favour of the Conservatives, now labels Theresa May's manifesto as the 'most disastrous in history'.


One of the issues facing the Labour Party, is their traditional approach to solving problems. Whilst the Conservatives make promises of growing a meritocracy, Labour could, if it's not careful, foster a mediocracy of dependency.

The issue with meritocracy, is that some people will never be able to compete in the assumed intellectual fashion - slipping through the net into a dark, underclass void. Conservatism is still very much about competition and 'survival of the fittest', but forgets that those of a less competitive nature and perhaps therefore, deemed to be lower down the pecking order, have an important role in maintaining the underlying structure and quality of life and value fulfilment in a society - supporting those 'higher up', with service industries and the creative arts. We have an odd, even somewhat perverse, practice in Britain, of rewarding those who bring in money and punishing those who struggle to generate even moderate levels of their own income.

The issue with mediocracy, is that some people will simply become dependent on others and not take responsibility for their own lives and the lifestyles they end up experiencing. There has to be a balance of both accepting personal responsibility and knowing that practical support for personal advancement is available to anyone who seeks it.

When it comes to Brexit, Labour is openly criticised for not being strong enough to negotiate for Britain's best interests, despite actually offering more detail than the Conservatives, in respect of how it intends to manage the process. The argument that Corbyn thinks 'money grows on trees' does not stand up to scrutiny, when you see that the Conservatives appear to have even less idea of where their money for reform is going to come from. There's a lot of bluster and hyperbole, but exactly, what is being helpfully presented?


On another note...

Aside from the whole Brexit thing, one of the areas making the headlines is the potential raising of corporation taxes. Perhaps we shouldn't take higher taxes from corporations, as money that goes back into the Government's pockets. Perhaps we should instead, make it a law, that the amount of that proposed increase in corporation tax should instead be given directly to community and social causes within Britain - decided on by the companies affected, and enabling everyone to see the contribution being made. It could also be a way to dispel a lot of the resentment poorer people have for richer people doing so well.

Corporation tax should instead be given directly to community and social causes within Britain

I liken this idea to that of paying everyone in the country, a minimum cost of living income - particularly as we move towards more roles being taken over by automation. Great idea in some ways but totally inappropriate in others - namely, that many people would not use that income in the way intended. Better to give a percentage of free gas and electricity or similar help that then releases any additional income or conventional earnings, for having a better lifestyle.

Putting up a basic minimum wage, at the same time as increasing cost of living, is the same as leaving everything as it is. It does not work to give more money and then immediately put in systems and policies that allow it to be taken away again, or in the case of many situations, leave people actually worse off after an increase.

We must also accept, that not every member of our society has the same capabilities. You cannot say to an Elephant, that all animals should be able to climb trees, to prove their worth to the rest of the animal kingdom.

Anyway... good luck, and may you get the Government you truly deserve!