No War without Parliament seeks veteran support

Australia Prime Ministers are quick to take us to war and even quicker to commemorate those wars. They are not so quick to provide meaningful debate in Parliament about those decisions.

The Australian War Powers Reform campaign, No War Without Parliament, is now seeking to ensure the voices of some of those Australians most heavily affected by decisions for overseas wars – ADF veterans and their families – are heard. read more

What social science is telling us about polarisation. Part 3

Despite George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, there has been a constant battle between rational, comprehensible language and obfuscation and propaganda, and the questions he raised are doubly pertinent in an era which has witnessed a new fall of rationality in language.

Marten Scheffer, Ingrid van de Leemput, Else Weinans and Johan Bullen address the issue in a PNAS paper (2 November 2021). They say: “The surge of post-truth political argumentation suggests that we are living in a special historical period when it comes to the balance between emotion and reasoning.” read more

An amuse-bouche for the weekend

In the middle of trying to write some articles on social science polarisation research, and tend the Truth and Integrity Project website and Twitter feed, I was asked to write an article ranking the Labor Shadow Cabinet from one to 10.

At 3 am the next morning it was one of those moments when you wake up wondering what on earth you have done. The only names you can think of are Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek. If you wake your wife she’ll be furious and, if you are lucky, suggest you have left out Kristina Kenneally. read more

Are politicians research methods making our politics even worse?

In the next few months millions of dollars will be spent on political market research – much of it on focus groups which take the form of group discussions.

Allegedly it allows political parties to identify what people are thinking and how to respond to that. It is not a consultative project but rather one often devoted to testing ideas which form the basis of slogans. It also won’t be much about policy unless it is to elicit ideas for attacks on opponents’ promises. read more

Ad industry creatives target fossil fuel clients

In 1948 the American polymath, Harold Lasswell, formulated five questions: Who says what, which channel, to whom, and with what effects. He later added two more suggested by a critic: For what purpose and under what circumstances.

In a world saturated with persuasive communications – for both legitimate and nefarious purposes – it is a useful tool to de-construct who is saying what, how and why. read more