Knowledge Only Politics

Towards a New Politics

From my school and university days I was aware that belief had not yet been definitively differentiated from knowledge in any of the world’s languages, despite politics having always been a matter of belief and counter-belief, while craftsmanship, science and technology (engineering) had always been matters of knowledge which was discernibly different from belief, though not as yet definitively differentiated from it.  Later, when this discernible difference, motivated me to join the scientific civil service with the intention of introducing knowledge to politics, I quickly concluded that this would be difficult if not impossible, because politicians and generalist civil servants actively preferred the elective changeability of belief-consensual policies to the restraint which knowledge, even acquired in their own laboratories, would impose on this elective changeability; and that science group civil servants either concurred with this preference because even they did not definitively differentiae the one from the other, and were thus content to produce pseudoscience (as defined below) in support of this preference. 

In confirmation of this conclusion, I noted that while beliefs in equality, freedom and rights have given rise to a plethora of belief-derived policies over many years, none of the results of their implementations have ever been consciously contrasted with our already available knowledge that equality is limited by individual differences, individual freedom is limited by the freedom of others, that fraternity is limited in families, let alone in society at large; that conscious comparison identifies these beliefs as being counter to available knowledge; and that while electorates have thus far been unable to differentiate belief which does not work in reality from knowledge which does, their increasing ability to recognise policy failure in practice, is now alienating them from such politics, an alienation which now provides a first ever opportunity to move towards a new politics based on my newly definitive differentiation of the knowledge/belief dichotomy as further explained below.

The Sequence of Previous Attempts at Knowledge/Belief Differentiation.
My earliest attempt to exemplify the benefits replacing belief with knowledge in a politically active field of interest to electorates, took the form of a book published in 19831. This book described the knowledge newly acquired by a government laboratory which refuted the then growing environmentalist belief in accidental releases and operational discharges of oils and chemicals from ships being the cause of species-extinction/ecological-disaster in the marine environment. It also described the newly acquired knowledge which would return affected environments to their initial conditions quickly and cost-effectively, and which would ensure that all future operational discharges from ships would be environmentally insignificant.  My next attempt was a second book of 19992 which described the extent to which this newly acquired knowledge had been thwarted by these counter-beliefs which though ostensibly promulgated to protect the environment had caused an initial release of about 5000 tonnes from a grounding incident in Milford Haven in 1996 to become one of 78,000 tonnes which would have been prevented, had this newly acquired knowledge been preferred to the environmentalist counter-beliefs which since then have become even more actively believed and indeed implemented as policy.  However, with these books having failed to replace belief with knowledge as shown by the ever-increasing strength of environmentalist belief in its now ever-diversifying forms, my third attempt took the form of a book3 which definitively differentiated the knowledge/belief dichotomy for the first time, and with it, those of truth/falsehood, wisdom/folly, right/wrong and good/bad, and which thus resolved metaphysics and made epistemology redundant. 

This third book began by defining reality as that which stimulates our imaginations through our sense-receptors to beliefs transformable to positive or negative knowledge by evaluation of their compatibility or incompatibility with this reality, or to beliefs beyond this reality-evaluation in principle or pro tem practice which can only be accepted, rejected or suspended as beliefs, and which cannot be accepted as knowledge. By way of illustration, this third book showed that reality-evaluation of beliefs as hypotheses had created craftsmanship from time immemorial and had produced the knowledge-content of our traditional behaviour codes which seek to harmonise our innate selfishness with our innate need for cooperative social cohesion as the group-species we are; that from the seventeenth century onwards this reality-evaluation produced our science and engineering; and that meanwhile all else had been the unresolved belief/counter belief which causes recurrent violence, revolution and war.

However, having made my third book available on the print on demand basis without fanfare, I proceeded as an NGO representative, to rework my previous two books in light of my now definitive knowledge/belief differentiation as a series of documents for the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation of the UN, and I followed this with two websites for the information of the public, the first4 related my newly definitive knowledge/belief differentiation to future political policy formulation in general, the second5 related this differentiation specifically to the marine and atmospheric environment, and the third6 related it to the religious-political continuum in general. As of now, I intend to produce a website which applies this newly definitive knowledge/belief differentiation to the future of religion in parallel to this one on the future of politics, the overall objective of this combined endeavour being to demonstrate the ubiquitous need for acceptance of my newly defined knowledge/belief differentiation, without which the current alienations of electorates from socio-political failures will never be corrected.       

As to assessing the prospect of such acceptance and correction in the near future, the current Brexit fiasco illustrates the already parlous nature of our current politics. Thus, we see that we were given a referendum because politicians did not know whether to stay in the European Union or leave; that having given the electorate the power to decide, the politicians still cannot line up behind the decision taken by the electorate; that some want another referendum and so on ad infinitum, as with general elections in which nothing is ever successfully resolved; that meanwhile with respect to Brexit, no politician gives any indication of knowing how to leave; that whether we leave or not we will still be subject to further arbitrary interpretations of reality-incompatible beliefs in equality, freedom and rights; that despite their previous willingness to remain, no UK politician had been confident enough to join the Euro and all had preferred the wait-and-see option of the exchange-rate mechanism; that this mechanism had duly failed; and that given the chance to leave, the UK electorate had accordingly decided that the time had come to do so for whatever beliefs/counter-beliefs it happened to have accumulated at the time of the referendum, as is the case at all successive general elections. 

Thus, it cannot be concluded at this point, that the UK electorate is aware of the knowledge needed to benefit from the exercise of Brexit freedom, or that the politicians who appeared to advocate this freedom are aware of the knowledge needed to exercise it productively. All they do know is that they have an opportunity to leave pending acquisition of the necessary knowledge, while those who believed in the advantages of remaining, continue in this belief regardless of any knowledge of reality of which there is little if any in current politics, sociology or economics, none of which subjects is other than pseudoscience as defined below to differentiate it from science.

Thus, in the absence of any public improvement in the standing of knowledge thus far, politicians who believe remaining to be the better option, have now created a transitional period in which we will abide with the existing rules of the common market, of the customs union, and of freedom of movement, under the continuing jurisdiction of the supreme court of the EU, and we will accept any new rules implemented during this transition without having a vote or a veto, and during which we will negotiate the terms on which we may be permitted to leave by the Union itself.  Thus, with this interim position looking more like an entrapment to remain than the freedom to leave despite the referendum result, and with further ‘negotiation’ looking more like a search for agreement as to the conditions under which the EU will permit us to leave, we clearly see how distant this position is from our democratic decision to leave, the implementation of which could have invited the EU to negotiate the trade terms it would wish to retain with us, the imbalance of trade being very much in favour of the EU at present.

A Fresh Look at Democracy.
At this point, it is obligatory to take a look at what is currently meant by the term democracy.  As practiced thus far, democracy simply enables an electorate to select one political party of identifiably expressed beliefs to run the government till the next general election at which it may elect a party of identifiably expressed counter-beliefs for the next term of government. Thus, we see that while this process exercises the freedom of speech which characterises current democracies, it is merely the freedom to express beliefs and counter-beliefs, neither set of which is conclusive knowledge; that accordingly there is no end to such elections and no lasting benefit from any of them other than peaceful acceptance of their transient and ever-adjustable results; and that those who are defeated in a referendum immediately agitate to reverse it by another, or stale-mate its result by whatever means come to hand in order to avoid the danger of a second referendum reproducing the result of the first.

Furthermore, history shows that the foregoing analysis can be generalised. Thus, while we see that no lasting benefit can be derived form elective selection from a plethora of beliefs/counter-beliefs at the national level, this deficiency is a good deal worse at the international level. Thus, we may recall that when Woodrow Wilson sought to make the first world war the end of all wars by setting out his plan for the League of Nations, even the USA itself would not agree to join through an inability to resolve its own internal beliefs/counter-beliefs; that the League itself did not prevent the second world war and indeed may have been a significant cause of it; that its successor, the United Nations remains beset by beliefs/counter-beliefs; that internal beliefs/counter-beliefs are similarly unresolved in the EU and are the source of its ever-increasing difficulties; and that while the UK joined to the extent it did, in the belief it would solve the UK’s problems, the failure of the EU to solve its own problems despite the financial contributions of the UK, has resulted in the UK electorate deciding to leave with the expectation of being followed by others.  However, even when we do leave we will still face the thus far ubiquitous impossibility of resolving conflicts of belief/counter-belief unless we can replace transient belief-consensual policies with non-transient knowledge of the reality common to humanity as a whole.

Again, the wider public took little notice when my newly definitive differentiation of the dichotomies of knowledge/belief, truth/falsehood, wisdom/folly, right/wrong and good/bad was being brought to the attention of the UN through the marine environmental protection remit of its International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Yet again, the demos took little notice when my on-going series of websites and preceding books had been directly addressed to it.  However, at this point, it may be supposed that in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the public may now be motivated to induce its politicians to overturn their longstanding preference for belief over already available knowledge in all aspects of future policy-making.  By way of thus encouraging party-specific politicians, the public could point out to them that in doing so they would be doing no more than replacing arbitrary beliefs which have no reference to reality, with knowledge of the reality common to all of humanity, a replacement which has long been normal democratic practice in craftsmanship, science and technology (engineering).

To this end, my third book has already shown that reality-evaluation of specific beliefs (hypotheses) had produced the craft- and self-knowledge which secured our group-species survival from time immemorial and the science and technology which enhanced our welfare from the seventeenth century onwards, while our knowledge-only social cohesion was variously disrupted by conflicting religious beliefs, by knowledge-rejecting secular beliefs  or by reactions of ignored reality in ways which belief is unable to anticipate or avert; and that despite the advantages of knowledge-acquisition having far outweighed the disadvantages of enthrallment to belief, this differentiation of respective outcomes has never been previously recognised as a definitive differentiation of the knowledge/belief dichotomy.

Thus, my third book sought and continues to seek ubiquitous acceptance that secular and religious beliefs, whether implemented or not, must now be reality-evaluated as to whether or not they harmonise our innate selfishness with our survival-related need for cooperative social cohesion as the group-species we are; that the absence of my thus co-defined reality-evaluation leads to violence, revolution and war; and that its lax application corrupts the social, economic and environmental sciences to the pseudoscience now responsible for deteriorating personal behaviour, diminishing social cohesion, recurring financial crises, and increasing uncertainty of material and energy supply by diverting resources from real to unreal problems.

Again, my third book has shown for the first time that debate of opinion/counter-opinion is merely the debate of belief/counter-belief supported by partially selected facts/counter-facts neither set of which is debate-terminating knowledge; that such debate is interminable other than by acquisition of debate terminating knowledge; and that in the continuing absence of the latter or in the continuing failure to recognise its absence, such debate all too often gives rise to violence, revolution and/or war, as the only alternative means of resolving the otherwise irresolvable debate.  Yet again, my third book has shown for the first time that while rationality and the processes of logic ensure that no mistakes are made in moving from premises to conclusions, neither rationality nor logic can establish the truth of a premise; that truth can be established only by exercise of my co-defined reality-evaluation; that the axioms of mathematics are established by reality-evaluation; and that those who believe mathematical analysis to produce new knowledge from the knowledge expressed by an initial equation through its transformations to a concluding equation, do not understand the meaning of the equals sign, the concluding equation in such analysis being only the initial knowledge in a more useable form.

As yet further encouragement for replacement of arbitrary belief with current or new knowledge as soon as the need is recognised, my third book also shows that when science has identified a putative cause of an observed effect, it does not jump to conclusions. It designs an experimental arrangement which enables the putative (hypothetical) cause to be isolated from all other potentially interfering causes; which enables the isolated cause to be varied in magnitude and the resulting effect to be quantified by direct measurement; and which enables this thus established cause-effect relationship to be expressed as a mathematical equation which ever-after will enable quantitative effects to be calculated from quantitative causes and vice versa.  Again, my third book showed in contrast that pseudoscience does not isolate putative causes from all other possible causes.  Instead, it simply correlates arbitrarily chosen causes with arbitrarily chosen effects and proceeds to collect statistics as to their supposed relationship though this is never established as it always is in the scientific method described in the foregoing. Again, in contrast to science, we see that the statistics of pseudoscience are equally and mistakenly applicable to any such arbitrarily correlated pairs of parameters; and that such correlation of itself is incapable of establishing which is cause and which effect, even if the pair accidentally turned out to be cause-effect related prior to submission to the scientific method.  Thus, my third book definitively differentiates science from pseudoscience and identifies such as economics and sociology as examples of the latter, this classification being confirmed by their absence of knowledge of the present which prevents them from accurately predicting future crises.      

The New Politics.
 Having thus established the requirements to be met by the New Politics, it has to be recognised by electorates that neither they nor the representatives they elect know how to achieve their rather nebulously described objectives; that society will not be transformed for the better in one step only; that we must start from where we now are; that this start can only be the start of a new process; that while obvious mistakes may be eliminated fairly quickly, substantial improvements may well take longer; that the underlying objective of replacing belief/counter-belief with knowledge will be successful in the long run; and that this belated attempt is already long overdue.  Again, in making this start, electorates must be willing to remind political parties that their long-repeated and self-publicised objectives, are bereft of any definitive knowledge as to how they might be achieved; that they promise change without defining or in any way specifying it; that inter-party debate is simply a matter of comparing contrasting and construing the thus undefined and unspecified; and that to repeat these inadequacies  is simply to re-describe the requirements for a new Politics as was set out in the previous section of this website.

However, in order to maintain focus in the early transformative stages, electorates should inform party-specific politicians that their expectation is to be asked to prioritise knowledge-only policy options for implementation within known resource limits; that such knowledge-only options will already be known to be workable in reality as and when implemented; and that these will be definitively differentiated from previously offered belief-only options which previously failed in reality when implemented, the term knowledge-only denoting the absence of belief and belief-only denoting the previous absence of knowledge.  Thus, such a focus will avoid back-sliding, ensure development of this new politics within the UK, and encourage improvements in international relations in general. What was rhetorically referred to as rational/irrational belief in previous debates is now true/false news in current debate, but it still remains belief/counter-belief in urgent need of reality-evaluation to positive/negative knowledge.

Response to Oil and Chemical Marine Pollution, Douglas Cormack, Elsevier Applied Science, 1983.
Response to Marine Oil Pollution: Review and Assessment, Douglas Cormack, Kluwer Academic, 1999.
The Rational Trinity: Imagination, Belief and Knowledge, Douglas Cormack, available on the print-on-demand basis from Amazon and Bookshops since 2010,
Knowledge Only Policy
Knowledge Only Marine Policy
Religion and Politics Knowledge Only Policy
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