Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
University of Earth Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos

30 May 2016 | Draft

Existential Challenge of Detecting Today's Big Lie

Mysterious black hole conditioning global civilization?

- / -

Circling the wagons of global governance
Incommunicability of the big lie?
Derivative thinking: lipoproblems and strategies
Constraining strategies by the immediate appeal of short-term achievement
Stakeholder complicity in sustaining the big lie
Conventional understanding of growth as camouflaging the big lie?
Exertion of "gravitational" effects by a big lie?
Detection of the big lie obscured by the population-growth complex?
Risk aversion and question avoidance in strategic governance?
Personal implication in the big lie?


If indeed there was a "big lie" conditioning the dynamics of global civilization, how might evidence of it be detected?

One classic reference is of course the propaganda technique cultivated by the Nazi regime. The expression "big lie" was allegedly coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf -- about the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously". The insight was notoriously applied by Joseph Goebbels, German Reich Minister of Propaganda, who declared:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. (Joseph Goebbels quotes)

One line of inquiry could of course be the manner in which worldwide invasive surveillance has been cultivated, as highlighted by the release of diplomatic cables by Julian Assange through Wikileaks, followed by the releases of Edward Snowden. This made it clear that the public has been systematically exposed to a lie -- purportedly for its own good, as righteously claimed and understood by some.

Another line of inquiry would be that notoriously highlighted by Donald Rumsfeld, as US Secretary of Defense, with respect to the known knowns -- together with the known unknowns, the unknown knowns, and the unknown unknowns. This has been expressed otherwise by the arguments of Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007). Although such matters may be known to many, or suspected, there is a special kind of constraint on there consideration in public discourse. Like the so-called dark web, this is the realm of the unsaid (Varieties of the "Unsaid" in sustaining psycho-social community, 2003). What is it that is systematically "designed off" the table of global discourse?

There is of course a case for exploring the hidden agendas of fundamentalist religious movements, whether Christian (Catholic or otherwise), Islamic, or Jewish. The Christians are empowered in this respect by the Great Commission. These and similar notions are the primary nourishment of conspiracy theorists who variously infer a big lie underlying the contrast between overt and covert agendas. So framed it is easy to be seduced by arguments for the existence of secret elites pulling the strings of global governance -- possibly under the cover of prominent groupings of the eminent: the Club of Rome, the World Economic Forum, and other bodies, including their wannabe imitators.

It is intriguing to imagine the variety of ways today's big lie might be disguised, perhaps most probably beneath claims in quest of the very reverse -- emphasizing the positive at all costs, and deprecating questions framed as negative cynicism. Indications would then be offered by evidence of doublespeak, as separarately discussed (Enabling Suffering through Doublespeak and Doublethink, 2013).

All the words encapsulating the highest human values would then be skillfully employed as cloaks of stealth -- education, health, security, peace, happiness, quality of life, and the like. These words are of course central to the discourse of world leaders and politicians and to the articulation of their promises and commitments. To whatt extent are they consciously or unconsciously exploited to protect the nature of today's big lie?

One guideline for the inquiry could well be the so-called black holes which astrophysicists claim to exist, but for which evidence takes the form of inference in relation to theoretical consistency. As a particular kind of intangible dynamic, no black hole can be conventionally observed -- according to the theories inferring their existence.

Curiously black holes are used as a metaphor for global public debt -- readily ignored in consideration of global governance (Mark Hendrickson, The Black Hole of Debt, Forbes, 12 February 2016; Seth Lloyd, The Black Hole of Finance, Edge, 2016).

Is it possible that any big lie would take just such a subtle form, despite the power it exerts on its environment? Might this even be necessarily so -- as a reflection in the psychosocial world of the most fundamental insight of creative minds in this period?

Circling the wagons of global governance

The phrase "circling the wagons" corresponds to a long tradition of defensive configuration against perceived threat. The pattern is of course evident in the stockades and fortresses of earliest human history. One trace of this pattern is evident in the widespread recognition of stakeholders. The stakes "held" can be variously understood as a feature of the construction of any stockade, but with the added notion that particular groups have a responsibility with respect to each such stake. They have a traditional, if not hereditary right in that respect -- now readily interpreted as being their property, whether intellectual or cultural. Each "wagon" can be so understood.

Typically stakeholders now gather at a circular table echoing the pattern of the circle of wagons and the stockade. Typically also the threat to their collective well-being is defined as being outside the circle. Nowadays the circle is that of the "norms", threatened by "radicals" and "extremists" readily framed as a source of danger and terror -- whether wild people or wild life. As a gathering of wise leadership -- UN Security Council, G7, etc -- the pattern is readily cultivated in terms of the round table archetype, as discussed separately (Implication of the 12 Knights in any Strategic Round Table, 2014).

Missing from this framework is the sense in which the dynamics outside the circle may well not be a threat, however skillfully it is framed as such -- with evidence collected to that end. There is increasng recognition that external "enemies" can be questionably framed and cultivated to engender collective action in pursuit of agendas which may well be poorly articulated or even unconscious.

More problematic still is the possibility of an inner threat -- within the circle -- potentially more fearful than the outer. With the treachery of whistleblowers and the like, undermining the coherence of the self-image of the circle of stakeholders, this is increasingly recognized in terms of ever increasing internal suspicion. Even the highly secretive TTIP negotiations have recently been threatened by leaks from within (Greenpeace Netherlands releases TTIP documents, Greenpeace, 2 May 2016).

Incommunicability of the big lie?

Incomprehensibility and blind spots: A remarkable analysis of the problems of communication within a group has been provided in mathematical terms by Ron Atkin (Multidimensional Man: can man live in 3-dimensional space? 1981). The relevance of these insights to an understanding of the psychology of operating in complex communication spaces, with much that is "unsaid", is presented separately (Comprehension: social organization determined by incommunicability of insights). His basic point can be rendered partially comprehensible by the following diagram -- usefully understood as the simplest "circle" of stakeholders.

0-dimension vision:
--- Red, Green or Blue

1-dimension vision:
--- Yellow (=Red/Green);
--- Purple (=Red/Blue); or
--- Turquoise (=Blue/Green)

2-dimension vision:
--- White (=Red/Green/Blue)

The question is then how the elusive central insight is to be understood when the stakeholders are typically constrained by their special ("hereditary") functions to the conventionally comprehensible "sides" of the triangle -- or to its "points" in an even more constrained nanner. In effect they are trapped into communication channels "around" a central insight effectively hidden from them.

Each "wagon" or "stake" can then be recognized in terms of a form of "tunnel vision" which prevents any larger whole from being comprehended -- however much its influence may be subtly felt in navigating around the communication geometry. Atkin is very articulate in his commentary on how participants are drawn into a dynamic around such a "hole" -- constrained by it, but also avoiding it, much as planets orbit the sun.

The issue can be addressed otherwise in terms of the "blind spot" of each stakeholder. This is the focus of Alec A. Schaerer (A General Methodology for Reconciling Perspectivity and Universality - Applied to the Discrepancy between Theoretical Economics and Eco-Social Reality, 2008). He argues:

Any separative gesture inevitably produces a corresponding 'blind spot' that embodies the ''inverse' of the implied content vector; for example observation can observe everything except its act of observing. Logicians discovered that the blind spot can not be discovered within the chosen conceptual system: through the system one cannot 'see' what it cannot make distinguishable. One is unable to discern that it cannot make distinguishable what it cannot make distinguishable, namely the paradoxical pattern that the conceptual system, by explicitly splitting up the universe between itself and everything else, must on the one hand be distinct from this distinction, but on the other hand must exist implicitly within the distinction as part of totality and hence as an object of investigation.

With respect to the possible complementarity between observers, each compensating for the blind spot of the other, he makes the further point that:

In this paradoxical situation, observing other observers in their activity of observing can look like a helpful move, but the blind spot can on principle never be overcome, it can only be shifted around. Luhmann addresses it eloquently in his version of systems theory (for example in Luhmann [1984], [1997]). But by axiomatically postulating something signified that is preconstituted (namely the structure of being a system) while promoting the blind spot as just the type of form that allows differences and causalities to be formulated, he justifies the primal tangle and can therefore develop no solution on principle. Of course the world can be depicted in an endless way on this path. The question is what one really wants: sophisticated management techniques or a systematically consistent theory. Primal distinctions beyond the usual ones are decisive; for example, whether one considers material or mental elements is irrelevant because both are appearances (in the physical and mental realm) governed by the overall order, not this order itself. Understanding 'things' in terms of 'things' -- as attempted in today's mainstream -- is inevitably limited, since nothing in the realm of representables can offer the required strict generality. This is the 'mental sound barrier' that for instance physics is now up against, by relying on mathematics instead of a total clarification of categoriality. But even much of theology fell for the view 'from outside'.

The argument can then be used to infer that today's big lie potentially "exists" (and is fundamentally influential) in ways which can only be inferred -- again as with the black hole of astrophysics.

"Smaller" big lies: The question is then how to contrast such a "big lie" with the many purported big lies of smaller dimension -- given the inspiration the original has offered:

A particularly interesting example is that of Michel Chossudovsky (Towards a World War III Scenario: the dangers of nuclear war, Global Research, 31 March 2016) arguing that:

Breaking the "big lie", which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

However there is even the curious possibility that "smaller" big lies may well be articulated (if unconsciously) in order to serve to distract from any capacity to detect a more fundamental big lie.

Derivative thinking: lipoproblems and strategies

Given the lead offered by Atkin, it becomes intriguing to imagine how the stakeholders of global governance might frame their task of designing global strategies encompassing the variety of their perspectives, and beyond their specific mandates. The peculiarity is that they can take no formal account of any central "hole" around which their dynamics are necessarily patterned -- the big lie of which they are only subliminally aware, if at all.

Under such circumstances, the design process can be speculatively imagined in terms of the creative explorations of the Oulipo group of mathematicians and poets. Their methodology of constrained writing acquired fame through the design of a book whose text lacked the most common letter of the alphabet, except in the name of the author (Georges Perec (A Void, La Disparition, 1969). This points to the possibility of designing a global strategy which would lack all reference to the most fundamental problem, as discussed separately (Lipoproblems -- Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem: the systemic challenge of climate change and resource issues, 2009)

The consequence of any such approach in systemic terms is that the resultant global strategy -- or set of strategies like the UN Millennium Development Goals (discussed below) -- would then omit the driving dynamic of the problems which those strategies addressed. The thinking and the strategies can then be understood as derivative, as discussed separately (Vigorous Application of Derivative Thinking to Derivative Problems, 2013).

This stakeholder preference, righteously upheld as the most appropriate means of enhancing global values, then (assiduously) fails to engage with the originating ("upstream") issues in preference for a focus on the consequential ("downstream") issues. This is especially obvious in the response to flooding (Disastrous Floods as Indicators of Systemic Risk Neglect: implications for authoritative response to future surprises, 2011).

Constraining strategies by the immediate appeal of short-term achievement

It is appropriate to argue that most global governance strategies are now preoccupied by the need to demonstrate efficacy in the short term -- in response to the daily news cycle. It is in the very short term that the efficacy of governance is now primarily assessed via the media by public opinion -- the voters of democratic societies. Reporting is then necessarily defensively upbeat in its selection of evidence of success and the capacity of the governors -- systematically excluding (or down-playing) any "bad news", to the extent possible.

Obvious examples are offered by natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, and the like). The movement of refugees from zones of conflict and poverty now offers a potentially more striking example. Framed naturally as humanitarian crises, there is an expressed need for immediate relief (admitting of no contrary argument), and with provision for immediate integration into societies perceived as offering refuge (and with a humanitarian obligation to do so).

It is especially striking to note how little attention is given to the conditions engendering the humanitarian impact of natural disasters, or those which might be foreseen by further conflict and increasing poverty. In the case of renewed construction in flood plains, little attention is given to the probability of future disaster, notably in the light of climate change. In the case of refugees, attention is focused on the incoming numbers "this week", with little attention to the strategic implications of probable numbers arriving next year or in the years to come.

More generally it is amazing to note the incoherent response to the probable resource shortages in years to come, in the light of various estimates of the depletion of non-renewable resources -- especially given the commitment to denial of such "facts", and the credibility now associated with such denial .

As with the reception of the evidence regarding climate change, such depletion is framed as a misleading "myth" cultivated by those with particular agendas -- framed as being inherently dubious. However any such myth merits understanding in terms of the argument presented above -- especially given the continuing appreciation and cultivation of myth in various forms.

Ironically any big lie can probably only be perceived and comprehended at this time when framed in mythical terms -- a "misty" possibility perhaps only to be dubiously recognized "through a glass darkly". The role of science fiction in this respect is noteworthy. Again the constraints on the possibility of perceiving a black hole of astrophysics come to mind.

Stakeholder complicity in sustaining the big lie

It is not for nothing that the expression "stakeholder" is used. Each is committed to defending its particular patch. Any collective agenda may even be dimly perceived, if at all -- as implied by use of "myth". In practice, framing the inconvenient arguments of other stakeholders as promotion of a "myth" is a standard ploy in stakeholder self-protection. There is a truth to the lack of appreciation of inconvenient truth (An Inconvenient Truth -- about any inconvenient truth, 2008).

The pattern is one in which stakeholders, singly or as factions, claim the arguments of others as spurious -- if they are in any way recognized as a threat, or a constraint on the pursuit of the stakeholder's "business-as-usual". It is the constraint of stakeholders to their particular line of argument which prevents them from comprehending any larger picture as being of any relevance; hence the use of "myth" -- if misleading, ill-informed, or other characteristics are not suggested.

It is in this way that stakeholder dynamics can be explored as resulting in deniable complicity in sustaining any big lie which eludes their preferred focus and mandate. Essentially they do not want to know -- and have no mandate to do so. Full recognition would be a fundamental threat to the growth of their business in the short term, irrespective of longer-term threats, readily set aside as negligible -- especially by politicians and executives who do not envisage being in power when later difficulties emerge.

A curious feature of big lie dynamics in communication terms is that there is always someone else to blame as being at fault in failing to act responsibly, as may be variously explored (Collective Mea Culpa? You Must be Joking! Them is to blame, Not us! 2015; Responsibility for Global Governance Who? Where? When? How? Why? Which? What? 2008). This capacity is the primary means for a stakeholder to cultivate innocence and the status of upholding the most fundamental human values -- for which appreciation by others is appropriate.

The sophistication of black hole dynamics merits the exploration of dynamics whereby deniability can be sustained through creatively shifting responsibility between stakeholders, such that each can claim that wider inconvenient considerations are the responsibility of another in the circle of wagons.

This suggests exploration of the dynamics of any round-table "council of the wise" in terms of "knight's move thinking" -- whether understood as a strategic skill (as in chess and go) or deprecated as a cognitive pathology (Knight's move thinking: appreciated or deprecated, 2012). As a pattern of such moves, such blame shifting is explored and illustrated separately (Swastika as Dynamic Pattern Underlying Psychosocial Power Processes: implicate order of Knight's move game-playing sustaining creativity, exploitation and impunity, 2012). It is noteworthy that Ron Atkin (cited above) is more especially renowned for his insights into the mathematics of chess.

Given the maner in which the big lie has been held to be fundamental to the Nazi regime, it is useful to include illustrative animations from that earlier exploration relating a pattern of knight's moves to the dynamics implied by the swastika.

Animation of 8 of the Knight's moves
(potentially suggestive of dynamics within the blame game
and amongst the Knights of the Round Table)
Animation cycle showing emergence of "avoidance container"
from merged Swastikas (left- and right-facing)
Animation of 8 of the Knight's moves (in chess) Animation cycle showing emergence of  avoidance container as a Swastika

Following the triangular schematic used by Atkin (above), these animations suggest the merit of exploring dynamic "containers" for a big lie in terms of a variety of schematics. This could be especially valuable given that life itself is based on the 6-fold container offered by the so-called benzene molecule, which derives its stability from being a resonance hybrid (Configuration of alternatives as a resonance hybrid, 2008).

Other instructive schematics in that respect are:

Through their superimposition these suggest the possibility of further insight into the nature of the dynamics framing the container, as partially illustrated by the following. This is reproduced from the discussion of the knight's move and swastika, and related there to the classic reference by John Maynard Keynes to "animal spirits" as descriptors of emotional drives (Robert J. Shiller and George A. Akerlof, Animal Spirits: how human psychology drives the economy, and why it matters for global capitalism, 2009). The "animals" in the animation are derived from the front cover of the latter study.

Cyclic animation based on Swastika and Ba Gua dynamics
ordering the "animal spirits" otherwise?
(suggestive of the possible dynamics of a sustainable global economy)
Animation of engaging with "Animal Spirits" in the global economy? (Cyclic variant)

Conventional understanding of growth as camouflaging the big lie?

Critics of the current condition of global society readily focus on growth -- but in a variety of ways. From many conventional perspectives it is growth -- reframed as "development", conventionally understood -- which is vital to sustaining global civilization. As introduced by Wikipedia, this refers to a positive change in size, and/or maturation, often over a period of time. As such there cannot be enough of it, as separately questioned (Is There Never Enough? Religious doublespeak on population and poverty, 2013).

Ballooning, Ponzi schemes and Potemkin villages: This implies an understanding which recalls that of hot-air ballooning. There a burner must be repeatedly used to ensure that the balloon rises and stays up, as can be variously explored (Globallooning -- Strategic Inflation of Expectations and Inconsequential Drift, 2009).

More problematically the process also recalls the operation of a Ponzi Scheme in which new participants must be repeatedly drawn in for the benefit of those who were misleadingly persuaded to subscribe earlier -- or who designed the scheme, as in the case of Bernard Madoff (5 Years Ago Bernie Madoff Was Sentenced to 150 Years In Prison: here's how his scheme worked, Business Insider, 1 July 2014). Growth is readily assumed to be unquestionably desirable.

Can the global focus on growth be meaningfully distinguished from a Ponzi scheme perhaps subtly disguised by the public relations skills for which Grigory Potemkin, as a favoured adviser of Catherine the Great? He became renowned for the Potemkin villages -- whose problematic conditions were camouflaged on the occasion of her visit. Such a practice is of course characteristic of visits of eminent persons at this time.

This pattern plays out in many arenas: bigger income (budget, sales, etc), bigger house (or skyscraper), bigger missiles, larger corporation, greater influence, bigger size (height, attributions, etc), bigger impact (circulation, etc), greater popularity (number of "likes"), etc.

Surrogates for sexual prowess? These are all readily recognized as a curious echo of manifestation of the pattern with respect to sexual prowess and the drive for ever greater "performance", "scoring", and the engendering of progeny to ensure a hisotrical legacy. The pattern in other domains could well be a surrogate for under-performance in the sexual domain, or an effort to proclaim such performance (whether well-founded or not).

It is somewhat ironic that the preoccupation with growth in the economic domain bears such a resemblance to that in the sexual domain, most notably in the desperate quest for "stimulus" or "stimulants" (Olympic Legacy: white elephant or economic viagra? BBC News, 13 August 2012; Obama Thwarted Again: US require economic viagra equivalent? Solomons, 5 August 2015; Doubts surface about economic Viagra, MarketWatch, 28 January 2009; James Pethokoukis, Does the U.S. need a dose of Viagra economics? Reuters, 10 July 2009).

Elusive nature of qualitative growth: Critics of the preoccupation with growth variously present it as unsustainable as currently understood, if not a delusion (Bob Lloyd, The Growth Delusion. Sustainability, 2009). As measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) -- the principal indicator of national economics and its comparative analysis globally -- concerns have been expressed regarding its adequacy (The Trouble with GDP, The Economist, 30 April 2016). There it is argued that GDP is increasingly a poor measure of prosperity, being not even a reliable gauge of production. Its curious relation to "grossness" can also be explored (Evaluating the Grossness of Gross Domestic Product, 2016).

Such considerations suggest a curious understanding of "greatness" -- a theme prominently featured as the slogan of the current campaign of Donald Trump for the US presidency (Trump: Make America Great Again). This has been described otherwise (Trump's Mission: Make America Great Again -- The Vision of Widespread Prosperity: the American Dream for all 50 States, Breitbart, 27 May 2016).

What forms of insecurity does the unquestionable appeal of Trump's campaign reveal -- especially when formulated within the country widely held to be the world's superpower -- and so acclaimed? Is there an unrecognized sensitivity to the nature of the big lie underlying such prowess?

More intriguing is the sense in which growth, variously defined and appreciated in quantitative terms, may disguise the subtle intuitive recognition of other forms of qualitative "growth", whose appreciation is severely distorted by the quantitative focus.

Exertion of "gravitational" effects by a big lie?

Although the black hole of astrophysics is acclaimed for its remarkable gravitational effects, the probable importance of analogous effects in global society offers further insight into the effects of the big lie.

Gravity models in the social sciences: Extensive use is made of "gravitational" effects in understanding the economics of marketing -- initially formulated in terms of Reilly's law of retail gravitation, demographic gravitation and central place theory. These have been specifically applied to the attraction of customers (Jimmy Vee, Gravitational Marketing: the science of attracting customers, 2008).

Other applications of the gravity model include the gravity model of trade in international economics and the gravity model of migration. Such models are now used in various social sciences to predict and describe certain behaviors that mimic gravitational interaction as described in Isaac Newton's law of gravity. Generally, the social science models contain some elements of mass and distance, which can be related to the metaphor of physical gravity.

Although clearly a metaphor, the insights into demographic gravitation were developed by an astrophysicist as an exercise in "social physics", adapting the equations developed with regard to the physical universe. Predictably the effort to use insights of physics has of course been deprecated by physicists, most notably Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont (Fashionable Nonsense: postmodern intellectuals' abuse of science, 1998). However there is little question as to the attractive force exerted by locations of relevance to marketing.

More intriguing is how such insights might be extended to the realm of ideas and the attractive force they exert. Physics has nothing to say about the attraction of an idea -- however much physicists may be variously attracted to different theories.

A notable policy concern at the time of writing, for example, is the attraction exerted on some of the younger generation drawing them into participation in jihad in the Middle East. How is any such attractive force to be explored, if not by drawing on clues offered by physics?

Deprecated or not, some efforts have been made to extend such insights to the psychosocial realm (René Thom, Esquisse d'une Sémiophysique: physique aristotélicienne et théorie des catastrophes, 1989; Paris Arnopoulos, Sociophysics: cosmos and chaos in nature and culture, 2005).

Arrogance as a "gravitational force"? Whilst the attraction of relevance to marketing is readily understandable, far more intriguing is the possibility that gravitational modeling could be of relevance to an understanding of arrogance. This is significantly evident in the case of prominent individuals, groups, academic disciplines and countries.

Although the force associated with such arrogance is a common experience, how it operates would seem to be as mysterious as that of gravity in the physical universe. Clearly subordinates can be recognized as readily gravitating "in orbit" around the arrogant -- however that is reframed in terms of their attractiveness.

The dynamics of arrogance readily lend themselves to comparison with those of a black hole. New information is notably sucked in, but often with little later emerging.

Attractive force of a big lie: The question of relevance here is how a big lie might exert an attractive force around which institutions and people (unconsciously) gravitate in some way -- whether or not they are drawn disastrously in, as may be exemplified in the case of individuals subscribing to a belief system, participation in sects, or the case of jihadism.

Whilst the attractiveness of jihad as an idea has seemingly not evoked application of any gravity model, it is noteworthy that it has engendered use of such analysis in reaction to the manifestation of the power of the idea in inspiring military activity on the ground. The approach has been reviewed in a recent study (Daniel J. Smith, et al, Three Approaches to Center of Gravity Analysis: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Joint Force Quarterly, 78, 1, 2015).

Since the establishment of the center of gravity (COG) concept as a fundamental planning factor in joint military doctrine, its proper identification has been considered crucial in successful attainment of desired objectives.... Since its inception as a core planning tenet, the process for determining COGs has been a point of contention and debate. Currently, the definition of center of gravity and the process for determining it are outlined in joint doctrine, specifically in Joint Publication (JP) 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, JP 3-0, Joint Operations, and JP 5-0, Joint Operation Planning, as encompassed in the Joint Operation Planning Process (JOPP) within those publications. Speculation on proper COG determination has given rise to other COG methodologies, which have both questioned and challenged established doctrine for COG determination. Therefore, the objective of this article is to compare and contrast different COG determination methodologies to reveal strengths and weaknesses of each and ultimately to make recommendations for changes to joint doctrine.

Waves of arrogance? Given the strategic importance attributed to the gravity model in both economics and military strategy, there is clearly a case for considering its relevance to the detection of a big lie as a fundamental centre of psychosocial gravity.

The challenge to comprehension in that realm is made evident by the difficulty of understanding gravity in astrophysical terms. It is only very recently that much has been made of the possible detection of gravitational waves (see gravitational waves detection in September 2015). These are understood to be "ripples in the curvature of spacetime" that propagate as waves, generated in certain gravitational interactions and travelling outward from their source.

Could it be assumed that a time may come when "waves of arrogance" may be fruitfully detected to enable understanding of any big lie? This could prove to be consistent with speculative insights into a wave theory of identity (Encountering Otherness as a Waveform: in the light of a wave theory of being, 2013; Being a Waveform of Potential as an Experiential Choice, 2013).

Also of relevance is the so-called reality distortion field understood to be engendered by leading creative entrepreneurs whereby they convince their employees to become passionately committed to projects without regard to the overall product or to competitive forces in the market. It has been most notably applied to the ability of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. It is said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scale of difficulty, enabling them believe that the task at hand was possible, thereby framing the question of Markus Giesle (Is There a Science Behind Reality Distortion Fields? The Huffington Post, 16 September 2015). As might be expected, the process is now explored with respect to the campaigning success of Donald Trump, as the possible superpower leader of global civilization (Matt K. Lewis, The Trump Reality Distortion Filter: why so many US Republicans are suspending their disbelief, The Telegraph, 28 November 2015).

Detection of the big lie obscured by the population-growth complex?

President Eisenhower famously warned in 1961 of the unacknowledged degree of influence of the military-industrial complex -- namely the informal alliance between a nation's military and the defense industry which supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy. This influence now readily features in public debate.

More intriguing today is the potential influence of what might be termed the population-growth complex. In this case the conventional understanding of these categories merits careful exploration as disguising and distorting a more fundamental dynamic which might appropriately be associated with a "big lie". Like the black hole of astrophysics, this fundamental dynamic may be both difficult to comprehend and difficult to detect.

There is however the further difficulty in that, as typically framed, both "growth" and "population" are assumed to be unquestionably and inherently "positive". Any challenge to the increase of either is considered inappropriate, misguided and essentially anti-social -- if not "negative" and evil.

In the case of population this perception is justified by the biblical injunction to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 9:7) -- by which all Abrahamic religions are bound.

Given the consequence of increasing numbers for the much-challenged governance of global society, the irresponsibility of those religions on this matter can be appropriately called into question (Root Irresponsibility for Major World Problems: the unexamined role of Abrahamic faiths in sustaining unrestrained population growth, 2007; Systemic Reliance of World Religions on Human Sacrifice: covert use of fatal conflict to ensure vital resource management, 2014).

The fundamental preoccupation of such religions with sexuality and its symbolism (as noted above) evokes questions with regard to their commitment to the "dissemination" of belief (notably "democracy" in the case of Christianity) through penis-surrogates (using bullets, bombs and missiles). It is difficult to avoid interpreting this as a commitment to engendering "cannon fodder" for future conflict, as currently exemplified by the newly announced policy of a supposedly secular country (Turkey's Erdogan warns Muslims against birth control, BBC News, 30 May 2016).

Preoccupation of stakeholders: The challenge of detecting the fundamental nature of any underlying big lie can however be taken further by considering the preoccupations of the primary secular "stakeholders" who might otherwise accord attention to its possible existence -- aside from the set of religions. Different sets of candidates for such roles could be considered:

Greater insight may be possible by juxtaposing the uncritical response to potentially problematic factors with the set of UN Specialized Agencies (extended to include related bodies). Specifically this provides a focus to the questions of how each strikes a sustainable balance between uncritical commitment to economic growth (framed as development") and uncritical support of increasing levels of population. The latter may well undermine the achievements of the former -- whether in the shortest term or in the foreseeable future -- given the much-challenged capacity of governance to manage increasing complexity, availability of resources, and difficulties in delivering them:

UN Specialized agencies Problematically challenged Uncritical support
by development pressures by population increase of economic growth of population increase
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) yes yes yes yes
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) yes yes yes yes
International Fund for Agricultural Development yes yes yes yes
International Labour Organization (ILO) yes yes yes yes
International Maritime Organization (IMO) yes yes yes yes
International Monetary Fund (IMF) yes yes yes yes
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) yes yes yes yes
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) yes yes yes yes
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) yes yes yes yes
Universal Postal Union (UPU) yes yes yes yes
World Bank Group (WBG) yes yes yes yes
World Health Organization (WHO) yes yes yes yes
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) yes yes yes yes
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) yes yes yes yes
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) yes yes yes yes
UN Programmes and Funds        
United Nations Development Programme yes yes yes yes
United Nations Children's Fund yes yes yes yes
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees yes yes yes yes
World Food Programme yes yes yes yes
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime yes yes yes yes
United Nations Population Fund yes yes yes yes
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development yes yes yes yes
United Nations Environment Programme yes yes yes yes
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees yes yes yes yes
UN Women yes yes yes yes
United Nations Human Settlements Programme        
Other entities        
Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDs yes yes yes yes
United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction yes yes yes yes
United Nations Office for Project Services yes yes yes yes
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change        
Related organizations yes yes yes yes
International Atomic Energy Agency yes yes yes yes
World Trade Organization yes yes yes yes
Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization yes yes yes yes
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons yes yes yes yes

Challenging issues highlighted in political discourse: Rather than focus on the aspirations enshrined in their mandates, it is also insightful to focus on issues with which governance struggles desperately to deal, recognizing the probable increasing difficulty in the future -- with increases in population, resource constraints and difficulties in managing increasing complexity.

  Impact of increasing population and consequent demands on resources
Problematic issues Systemically recognizable Official acknowledgement
Education much challenged capacity no
Environment increasing degradation no
Employment increasing unemployment no
Mechanisation increasing unemployment no
Food production and delivery difficulties no
Water production and delivery difficulties no
Sanitation production and delivery difficulties no
Energy production and delivery difficulties no
Security much challenged capacity no
Justice much challenged capacity no
Housing much challenged capacity no

This table raises the question as to which prominent political issues of governance would not be significantly eased if population numbers and demands were reduced, whether in the shorter or longer-term. However both tables raise the question as to what arguments are presented -- and by whom -- to deny both the relevance of such questions and the existence of any tangible evidence meriting their exploration.

A similar approach could of course be taken with the set of religions, and their responses, especially in the light of the framing offered by Stephen Prothero (God Is Not One: the eight rival religions that run the world -- and why their differences matter, 2011). Given the mutually exclusive beliefs of each -- and the violence to which it leads -- what is the nature of the big lie which they collectively cultivate?

Especially fruitful would be application of the approach to a set of the most influential multinational corporations. This would be instructive in that it ould highlight the extent to which many were dependent on population increase as constituting a (cheaper) labour source and an expanding market on which their continuing growth is dependent. To a great extent than relgions, it is to be expected that corporations would collude in marginalizing arguments challenging the sustainability of such increase.

Risk aversion and question avoidance in strategic governance?

Goal formulation: Given the preoccupation here with a big lie potentially underlying global governance (and the set of stakeholders above), a more indicative set is the Millennium Development Goals (articulated in 2015, following the earlier set articulated in 2000). These are usefully understood as the ordered global articulation of distilled strategic perspectives -- as "stakes" -- of the above sets of institutions. To these goals 189 member states of the United Nations have subscribed, as well as over 23 international organizations. The 8 international development goals recognized are:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  1. To improve maternal health
  2. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  3. To ensure environmental sustainability
  4. To develop a global partnership for development

Critical omissions: In developing the argument further, it is obviously appropriate to distinguish between:

In recognizing the challenges to global governance at this time, such distinctions recall those made by Donald Rumsfeld (as cited above) between the known knowns, the known unknowns, the unknown knowns, and the unknown unknowns. Their implications have been discussed separately (Unknown Undoing: challenge of incomprehensibility of systemic neglect, 2008).

The question is whether the 8 goals, and their subscribing governments and international agencies, reflect the conscious or unconscious adoption of a dangerously blinkered approach to the global problematic. Succinctly stated, what has been deliberately ignored or "designed off the table" -- especially under the subtly pernicious influence of a population-growth complex which remains a challenge to comprehension?

Critical questions: There is therefore a case for challenging the explicit articulation of goals and strategies in the light of arguments such as the following. In the case of each articulation the question is to what extent does it neglect the possibility of:

Given that such considerations tend to be perceived as constituting a form of threat to the pattern of governance-as-usual, it is also useful to frame the challenge in terms of the nature of "deadly questions", as argued separately (In quest of the most deadly question, 2013). This raises the question as to the nature of a question that could shake humanity out of the kind of dream state implied by John Ralston Saul (The Unconscious Civilization, 1995). Or should the dream state be recognized as a form of impotence engendered by unconscious recognition of that question, as might otherwise be considered (Thinking in Terror, 2005)?

Are deadly questions particularly characterized by being unasked, as separately discussed (Strategic Implications of 12 Unasked Questions in Response to Disaster, 2013)? Failure to recognize current strategic constraints can be usefully brought into focus by a thought experiment (Resource Insights from Plus or Minus 12 People on a Liferaft: thought experiment to highlight global dilemmas in a comprehensible context, 2014). Failure to do so exemplifies the psychosocial constraints of viable strategic initiatives (Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action: constraints on ensuring a safe operating space for humanity, 2009).

Questionable arguments in support of governance-as-usual? It is usefully hypothesized that a big lie would be "protected" by an array of overly optimistic arguments, inadequately challenged -- especially when mutually contradictory. Examples could be identified in relation to the population-growth complex. They might include:

Questionable "science": Such "unquestionable" arguments and assertions tend to be based on "marketing" claims unsupported by adequate research, especially since they assume "positive" consequences and benefits in a future which can otherwise be recognized as highly uncertain and characterized by the policy surprises variously noted (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007; Karen A. Cerulo, Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst, 2006; Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: why the New World Disorder constantly surprises us and what we can do about it, 2009).

It is appropriate to note the extent to which such arguments may rely on selective samples, as documented by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (Merchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming, 2010. It is also appropriate to note recent concern with the level of non-replicability of research, notably in the social sciences (Colin F. Camerer, et al., Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in economics, Science 3 March 2016). The matter is the face-saving focus of a special issue of the New Scientist, arguing that "unconscious biases and data-torturing are weakening our knowledge base -- but unlike politicians and bankers, scientists aren't covering up their failings" (Science isn't as solid as it should be -- but science can fix it, 13 April 2016).

With thinking framed by the black hole metaphor, of further relevance are the various understandings of an anticipated singularity -- perhaps as a form of recognition of the big lie (Emerging Memetic Singularity in the Global Knowledge Society, 2009). The gravitational singularity of the black hole might then be understood as conflated with the technological singularity, and with the end times of religious eschatology.

Paradoxical, counter-intuitive characteristics of the big lie: The black hole of astrophysics gave credibility to the possibility that in the vastness of the physical universe information and energy might be subject to phenomena which were paradoxical and counter-intuitive. It is appropriate to hypothesize that in the vastness of a communication-based, global knowledge society analogous phenomena might be evident in some way -- however challenging they were to comprehension and detection. For example, much was made of the counter-intuitive nature of the conclusions of the original report to the Club of Rome on The Limits to Growth (1972)

Especially interesting in the astrophysical case is how conventional information processes are distorted and "bent" by gravitational effects. Current understanding of them suggests the consequence is that information cannot "get out of" such a black hole. This would be consistent with the nature of information about the population-growth complex. No information about it is formally held to be credible.

However such covertness would also be consistent with increasing dependency of governance on secrecy of ever higher orders. Ironically the intelligence sytems sustaining such secrecy, and their internal dynamics, readily invite comparison with a black hole -- as with the only too appropriately named Bluffdale (NSA Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center). Consistent with this is the legal device of superinjunctions in the UK, namely a type of injunction that prevents reporting on the thing that is in issue, but also prevents the reporting of the fact that the injunction itself even exists.

Of relevance is the extent to which the very nature of such a dynamic is such a dangerous topic that discussion of it by institutions is necessarily avoided at all costs, as may be variously explored (Institutionalized Shunning of Overpopulation Challenge: incommunicability of fundamentally inconvenient truth, 2008). The pattern of denial was evident in relation to climate change (United Nations Overpopulation Denial Conference: exploring the underside of climate change, 2009).

The point is reinforced by the failure of the recent UN World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul, May 2016) to accord any attention to the implication of increasing population, as noted separately (Starvation Imagery as Humanitarian Trump Card? 2016). This raises the question as to the extent to which the suffering are cynically used as "human shields" by agencies claiming to represent the highest humanitarian values -- neglecting the greater suffering over the longer-term which their short-term focus enables.

Given the dangers of phenomena associated with such a black hole, it is therefore intriguing to explore how science endeavours to deal with other extremely hazardous research. As separately discussed, such measures might well be adapted to the dangers of considering the population-growth complex and any underlying lie by which it is sustained (Overpopulation Debate as a Psychosocial Hazard: development of safety guidelines from handling other hazardous materials, 2009).

Personal implication in the big lie?

The paradoxical counter-intuitive nature of the big lie may be assumed to have much to do with how one seeks to conceive and comprehend it. Unlike the black hole, it is not usefully to be understood as "elsewhere" in the universe -- as with the supermassive black hole hypothesized as being at the center of the galaxy. The latter understanding follows from the unquestionable conventional disassociation of subject and object which is characteristic of science.

Beyond binary thinking: More interesting is the nature of personal implication in the big lie in the light of some kind of transcendence of such binary thinking. Possibilities for engagement with higher order thinking can be speculatively considered (Engaging with Insight of a Higher Order: reconciling complexity and simplexity through memorable metaphor, 2014; Implication of Indwelling Intelligence in Global Confidence-building: sustaining the construction and dynamic of psychosocial reality through questioning, 2012; Paradoxes of Engaging with the Ultimate in any Guise, 2012).

Some consideration of this comprehension is evident in the work of Peter Russell, notably by associating the white hole hypothesized by physics with the experience of the present moment (The White Hole in Time: our future evolution and the meaning of now, 1993). As the reverse of a black hole, a white hole is a hypothetical region of spacetime which cannot be entered from the outside, although matter and light can escape from it.

Nature of "holes": The very nature of the mysterious experience of a "hole" can however be fruitfully challenged, as remarkably discussed by Roberto Casati and Achille C. Varzi (Holes and Other Superficialities, 1994) -- with respect to the borderlines of metaphysics, everyday geometry, and the theory of perception (as they summarize in theentry on holes in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philsophy). They seeks to answer two basic questions: Do holes really exist? And if so, what are they? Such questions can be fruitfully adapted to challenge the experience of a big lie central to sustaining a personal sense of identity. What indeed is the meaning of a "hole" in an argument?

The consequence of deliberately omitting, or unconsciously missing, a dimension essential to systemic viability can be reviewed and further justified by the work of the biological anthropologist Terrence Deacon (Incomplete Nature: how mind emerged from matter, 2012; The Symbolic Species: the co-evolution of language and the brain, 1997). He explores the paradoxical incompleteness of semiotic and teleological phenomena in terms of information to demonstrate how specific absences (or constraints) play the critical causal role in the organization of physical processes that generates these properties.

As noted separately, philsophers would typically like to expel holes from their ontological inventory (Emerging Significance of Nothing, 2012). Arguing in favour of the "existence" of such absences as full-fledged cognitive entities, Casati and Varzi examine the ontology of holes, their geometry, their part-whole relations, their identity, their causal role, and the ways they are perceived.

Holes and lies of higher dimensionality? Curiously black holes are conventionally discussed as having a centre -- and depicted as a spiralling whirlpool, with a misleading suggestion of 2-dimensionality. How is such a "centre" to be understood, especially when fundamental to personal psychology, discussed above -- as a focus of the "gravitational" effects -- and separately (Originating central locus of any "Big Lie", colourful tales, or fluid creativity, 2015)?

Whether as a "hole" or as a "lie" (engendering misconception), overly simplistic representations in 2D fail to take account of the relevance of the imaginative explorations of physics (Our Universe May Have Emerged from a Black Hole in a Higher Dimensional Universe, SciTech Daily, 8 August 2014; Did a hyper-black hole spawn the Universe? Nature, 13 September 2013). Given depictions with particular spiralling directionality, also of relevance is recognition of chirality in relation black holes (Chiral Phase Transitions around Black Holes,, 20 June 2011; Chirality, Hawking Effect and Black Hole Spectroscopy, 2010). Notably in the light of controversy regarding the chirality of the swastika, whether for the individual or the collective, comprehension transcending chirality may be vital to integral governance, as separately discussed (Post-chiral governance -- beyond political handedness? 2016).

Self-reflexivity and apophasis: Relevant to any such comprehension of holes, and following his seminal work on self-reflexivity, Douglas Hofstadter participated with the psychologist Emmanuel Sander to frame the challenge otherwise (Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, 2013). To what extent do the psychosocial challenges of the times call for a shift beyond "explanation/explication" into some form of "implanation/implication" (¡¿ Defining the objective 8 Refining the subjective ?!: Explaining reality 8 Embodying realization, 2011). Of interest with respect to the existential dangers of such comprehension, is the use of the fire metaphor by the cognitive linguist George Lakoff (Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: what categories reveal about the mind, 1987).

The associations offered by word games may offer other insights (Dying to Live, Living to Die, Lying to Live, and Living a Lie, 2015). The very process of knowing, especially claiming to know (with its gravitational consequences), may be fundamental to the nature of the most fundamental lie. This is implied by the Sanskrit adage Neti Neti (not this, not that). This corresponds to the western via negativa, a mystical approach that forms a part of the tradition of apophatic theology.


Simone Ahuja, Ranjan Banerjee and Neil Bendle. Three Cognitive Traps that Stifle Global Innovation. Harvard Business Review, 18 October 2013 [text]

George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller. Animal Spirits: how human psychology drives the economy, and why it matters for global capitalism. Princeton University Press (2009) [summary]

Paris Arnopoulos. Sociophysics: cosmos and chaos in nature and culture. Nova Science, 2005

Ron Atkin. Multidimensional Man: can man live in 3-dimensional space? Penguin, 1981

Nick Bostrom. Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards. Journal of Evolution and Technology, 9, 2002 [text].

Lewis Brandon. The Big Lie Technique in the Sandbox. Institute for Historical Review, 1981 [text]

Roberto Casati. The Shadow Club: the greatest mystery in the Universe -- Shadows -- and the thinkers who unlocked their secrets. Knopf, 2003

Roberto Casati and Achille C. Varzi:

Karen A. Cerulo. Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst. University of Chicago Press, 2006

William Davies. The Happiness Industry: how the government and big business sold us well-being. Verso Books, 2016 [excerpt]

Terrence W. Deacon:

Jared M. Diamond. Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. Penguin, 2005

Barbara Ehrenreich:

Manfred Eigen and P. Schuster. The Hypercycle: a principle of natural self-organization. Springer, 1979 [

Charles Handy:

Douglas Hofstadter:

Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander:

Thomas Homer-Dixon. The Upside of Down: catastrophe, creativity, and the renewal of civilization. Island Press, 2006

George Lakoff. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: what categories reveal about the mind University of Chicago Press, 1987 [summary]

Bob Lloyd. The Growth Delusion. Sustainability, 2009, 1, pp. 516-536 [text]

Niklas Luhmann:

Donald N. Michael. Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn. Miles River Press, 1997

Ian R. Newby-Clark, Michael Ross, Roger Buehler, Derek J. Koehler, and Dale Griffin. People Focus on Optimistic Scenarios and Disregard Pessimistic Scenarios While Predicting Task Completion Times. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 6, 2000. 3, pp. 171-182 [text]

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Merchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. Bloomsbury Press, 2010

Stephen Prothero. God Is Not One: the eight rival religions that run the world -- and why their differences matter. HarperOne, 2011

Joshua Cooper Ramo. The Age of the Unthinkable: why the New World Disorder constantly surprises us and what we can do about it. Little, Brown and Company, 2009

Peter Russell:

John Ralston Saul. The Unconscious Civilization. Free Press, 1995

Alec A. Schaerer. A General Methodology for Reconciling Perspectivity and Universality - Applied to the Discrepancy between Theoretical Economics and Eco-Social Reality. 2008 [text]

Daniel J. Smith, Kelley Jeter, and Odin Westgaard. Three Approaches to Center of Gravity Analysis: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Joint Force Quarterly, 78, 1 July 2015 [text]

Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. Fashionable Nonsense: postmodern intellectuals' abuse of science. Picador, 1999

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

René Thom. Esquisse d'une Sémiophysique: physique aristotélicienne et théorie des catastrophes. Interéditions, 1989

Jimmy Vee, Travis Miller and Joel Bauer. Gravitational Marketing: the science of attracting customers. Wiley, 2008

John Baker White. The Big Lie. Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1955

Eliezer Yudkowsky. Cognitive Biases Potentially Affecting Judgment of Global Risks. Machine Intelligence Research Institute, 2008

creative commons license
this work is licenced under a creative commons licence.