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Leading up to Waitangi Day, commentators are all over the Main Stream Media frantically telling us the "truth" about the events surrounding the Treaty signing in 1840. Yet for centuries historians, journalists and the courts have declared that getting to the objective truth when trying to discover what happened at a particular event has proved impossible. Here is what my friend, Harvard economist, Rafael Di Tella, has to say about the matter in his article called "Information or Opinion? Media Bias as Product Differentiation":


In 500 B.C., Thucydides’ wrote in his account of the Peleponnesian War: “With regard to my factual reporting of events, I made it a principle not to write down the first story that came my way & not be guided by my own general impressions; either I was present myself at the events which I've described or else heard of them from eye-witnesses whose reports I checked with as much thoroughness as possible. Not that even so the truth was easy to discover: different eyewitnesses have different accounts of the same events, speaking out of partiality from one side or the other or from imperfect memory." Kovach & Rosensteil (2001) in The Elements of Journalism note how this account alludes to the challenges in any task of non-fiction: "How do you sift through rumor, gossip, failed memory, manipulative agendas & try to capture something as accurately as possible, subject to revision in light of new information & perspective? How do you overcome your own limits of perception, your own experience & come to an account people recognize as reliable?” They note the difficulties posed in this task have resulted not only in journalists rejecting the term objectivity as an illusion, “but in various legal opinions, which declared objectivity impossible".


On the relationship between the courts and the truth, some great quotes come from the eminent American legal authority, Alan Dershowitz:


= "The defendant wants to hide the truth because he's generally guilty. The defense attorney's job is to make sure the jury does not arrive at that truth".


= "The prosecution is perfectly happy to have the truth of guilt come out but it, too, has a truth to hide: it wants to make sure the process by which the evidence was obtained is not truthfully presented, because, as often as not, that process will raise questions".


= "The judge has a truth she wants to hide: she often hasn't been completely candid in describing the facts or the law"


= "That is why a criminal trial is not a search for truth. Scientists search for truth. A criminal trial searches for only one result: proof beyond a reasonable doubt".


So next time someone tells you that the media, journalists, lawyers or the courts in NZ are busy working out where the objective truth lies, tell them to give you a break.


Sources:


Infometrics is forecasting that over the next two years, 2024 and 2025, total GDP will grow at around 2% per annum. Nearly that entire increase is being driven by immigration, which is also running at 2% per annum, meaning the standard of living of locals, as measured by average income of Kiwi households, is predicted to go nowhere over National's term in office. Meanwhile GDP per capita is surging in America. Folks like our Worst Finance Minister Ever, Grant Robertson, and Otago University epidemiologist-turned-economic-expert, Professor Michael Baker, who predicted our "elimination" of the virus would go hand-in-hand with economic success have been proved wrong.


Should Luxon screw up on economic reform, then his dream of being a successful CEO of NZ will go the same way as Ardern's dream of being NZ's Guardian Angel. National was elected to fix the economy and reduce living costs, first and foremost. It's catchphrase was "delivery". So Luxon must deliver on the aim of making NZ more prosperous.


One of the reasons Labour lost was because Ardern's focus was on non-economic issues. Her Commencement Speech at Harvard University never mentioned economics but instead waxed on about conversion therapy, gun control, gay marriage, abortion, trolls, responsible algorithms, disinformation lies, not to mention "unhygienic keyboard warriors dressed in poorly fitted superhero costumes”. It got laughs and nods of approval at Harvard, but we don't all receive income on an endowment of $NZ 100 billion, like its professors and students do. Meanwhile, back on the farm in NZ, people were taking a disliking to Ardern philosophizing about such matters & relentlessly assuming the moral high ground. Our minds were elsewhere - namely on trying to pay the bills.


The previous Labour government's weakness was the economy. Should the new coalition get bogged down, as Ardern did, on non-economic issues like the evils of Big Tobacco and its influence on our politics, and on race issues that the Nats now say they have no intention of delivering upon, without fixing the economy, it will be in trouble. The previous lot were so awful that this new coalition better succeed, as over half the population are wanting it to, even though many judges, academics, mainstream media journalists and Wellington bureaucrats, who have become dismissive of democracy, are wanting it to fail.


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