Sunday, March 02, 2008

How independent is independent?

A great post from punkscience, discussing the sinister use of allegedly 'independent' organisations to propagate the opinions of whoever is paying the cheque. This technique isn't limited to corporate 'think-tanks' or 'independent analysts' - the state isn't afraid to use a bit of the old 'independent' subterfuge to mislead the public too.

It reminded me of how our local education bodies on Tyneside were marshalled to produce a teaching resource website called 'xingthetyne' to promote the second Tyne Tunnel project. The creators of the website, South Tyneside and North Tyneside Education Business Partnerships, (along with the education departments of North and South Tyneside prostituting themselves to the cause) claimed it was to encourage student participation in democracy and citizenship. But all of the information on the website came exclusively from the tunnel sponsors, and naturally represented their views. Despite the objections to the tunnel, none of the opposition viewpoints were represented in the material.

One question was 'Why do we need a second tunnel?', instead of analysing if there was a 'need' for a new tunnel. A clear case of teaching children what to think instead of how to think. I wonder if the genius who wrote this beauty is now spending their time compiling consultation questionnaires for South Tyneside Council.

What was meant to be an independent educational resource was little more than a marketing tool to sell roads to kids and perpetuate the 'car is king' culture, and received some enthusiastic support from Labour leader Councillor Paul Waggott.

The 'xingthetyne' site now seems to have disappeared into the internet ether, apparently no longer needed now the mission to get permission to build the tunnel has been successful.

I'm now expecting the local waste partnership to sponsor a new educational resource "How incinerators are great and getting cancer from the shit they spew out isn't too bad actually."

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