I saw a video on the BBC news website yesterday that kept me tossing and turning most of the night. It’s a piece about army intelligence officer, Brian Gemmell, who was gathering information on loyalists in Northern Ireland during the troubles in the 1970s, when he stumbled across evidence of child abuse at Kincora Boy’s Home in east Belfast.
‘ A former army intelligence officer has said he was ordered to stop investigating allegations of child sexual abuse at a boys’ home in the 1970s.
Brian Gemmell said a senior MI5 officer told him to stop looking into claims of abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast.
He said he presented a report on the allegations to the officer in 1975.
In 1981, three senior care staff at the home were jailed for abusing 11 boys.
It has been claimed that people of the “highest profile” were connected to abuse at the home .’
Anyone who watches TV detective stories knows there are certain rules all good investigators must follow. The same rules apply in all kinds of inquiry – in law, journalism and science alike.
The rules are essentially what’s called the scientific method. A method for acquiring knowledge which has been at the foundation of all liberal democracies for more than 300 years.
Take nobodies word for it. Hearsay doesn’t prove anything. Forget any theories and assertions, especially from the authorities, and just focus on the facts – the empirical evidence – the things we can experience with our common senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight.
Here’s a video not many people have watched, or are ever likely to watch. It’s a 40 min speech given by barrister Michael Shrimpton at the Britain on the Brink conference in Winchester on 22 September 2007.
What was the Britain on the Brink Conference you might ask? Well, according to the YouTube blurb is was:
A one day Conference by and for people of all parties and of none.
Hardly the kind of catch line that’s likely to attract many YouTube hits you might think. And you know what? … It hasn’t!
It features a leaked phone conversation between top American State Department official, Victoria Nuland, and America’s Ambassador in Kiev which, according to Stephen Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies and Politics at New York and Princeton Universities, shows that the Obama administration plotted “a coup d’etat against the elected President of the Ukraine!”
WTF!!! That’s pretty important information which puts President Putin’s response in a completely different light.
In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfil its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.
Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.*”
So it’s a bit of a surprise to discover those words were the rulings of a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Hugo Black, in the landmark decision in June 1971 protecting the right of the press to publish government secrets in the Pentagon Papers leaked by the whistleblowerDaniel Ellsberg.
Less than a week after British Gas topped the energy price league, beating rivals SSE by a comfortable 12% margin to set a new high of 9.2%, Npower surges an extra 13% ahead of British Gas and a spectacular 27% ahead of SSE to set a new record of 10.4%
Why would any company want to do that? Competitors are supposed to win customers by lowering prices, not by driving them up! Unless they knew something the rest of us didn’t know: that by the time we’d struggled through the maze of tariffs we’d find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I’ve just been watching the excellent new BBC/Open University movie, The Challenger, starring William Hurt, telling the story of how Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman uncovered the truth behind the 1986 space shuttle disaster.
As a former physicist with a passion for science stretching back as far as I can remember, I’m getting increasingly concerned about the way the the meaning of the word “evidence” has been subtly changing over the last 40 odd years, to the point where it now means the opposite of what it originally meant.
Language is, of course, constantly evolving. There are many words which now mean something very different to what they originally meant. For most of human history that’s been a natural, organic process. But ever since Edward Bernays combined the science of crowd psychology with the psychoanalysis of his uncle, Sigmund Freud nearly a hundred years ago now to create the ‘science’ of Propaganda’, the practical applications of Public Relations, Messaging and Language Management have been going from strength to strength.