Sunday, 1 April 2012
While there may be diversity in values, in ways of thinking and in creativity, what about truth?
Experiences may be diverse, each person experiencing a direct truth in their own circumstances, which could usefully inform their ballot decision, but there's a danger that untruths will contaminate Interactive Democracy, leading to bad outcomes. As an example, I recently heard on BBC Radio2 the old urban myth that a swan can break your arm! So, my question is How do we improve the truth of information in the public domain?
Firstly we need a definition: Truth is a statement based on substantial evidence. Predictions and opinions are not within its scope.
But who decides what is substantial evidence? I think we need civic systems that weed out falsehood and clarify truth, and I propose two systems: Parliament controlled Offices (e.g. the Office of National Statistics) and Public Inquiries; and a Truth Complaints Commission. The latter would allow anyone to complain about untrue statements in public life, much like the Advertising Complaints Commission and with similar powers of enforcement. The former isn't too dissimilar to what we have today, staffed by public servants who face dismissal if they fail in their duty.