About this site.

What's in a name?

By the mid 1990s, I was battling my own ignorance to get onto the internet. I made an incredible ordeal of it. Apart from the technical difficulties, some commercially inspired, there was the problem of naming the site. I knew it was to be about democracy and science, especially as to their methods. The problem was that English doesnt really have words of its own for these things. The Irish nationalists had the same difficulty. They won their independence from the British Empire. But Gaelic, like English, doesnt seem to have a word for democracy or republic. In the event, they originally called themselves The Irish Free State.

Likewise, English only has borrowed words like, democracy and republic, from Greek and Latin. As a reform campaigner, trying to win support for the single transferable vote and an elected economic second chamber, I felt that the British people never took imported words to heart. I was loath even to include "science," another Latin word, in the title. Not because I had anything against these fine words but because people didnt seem to respond to them.

The closest I could come to an Anglo-Saxon or at least English-friendly name for my web site was "Common Knowledge". And I was really going to use that title, which sacrifices precision to familiarity. If you are mystified by this description, let me explain that I intended to convey that science is democratic because everyone contributes to the search for knowledge and holds it in common.

I told my friend Dorothy, who my other site is named after, of the title "Common Knowledge".

"Oh, I dont like that." was her response. Later, I came back with the present name "Democracy Science." And she just said that is alright.

That is how the pretentious title of this site came about. It is just that there was no homely phrase, I could think of, to express its purpose. And search engines need definite terms to help people find subjects on the web.

Purpose of this site

Long before starting a web site, I wanted to show that an understanding of the nature of democratic voting method is a model example for showing how scientific method works in general. If you can use scientific method to show precisely how democratic method works, then you can use scientific method to help solve other problems, of which the world has plenty. It was a practical attempt to repair the damage of "the two cultures" in our education system and to good government.

Democracy has a vital contribution to make for science or problem solving. It's summed up in the proverb: Many hands make light work. It's not just numbers. Different people and different groups - not just parties - represent different points of view, from which to see any problem from a fresh perspective and help solve it.

Over the years Ive come to the opinion that party politics, as typicly conducted, is about excluding all but its own people. The party political attitude might be summed up in the conflicting proverb: Too many cooks spoil the broth. But the phrase "keeping it in the family" is perhaps nearer the mark. Top-down prejudice puts not only party but parties first. Its prime mission is to keep its own party in power or at least keep the system of competing elites for power. Oligarchic stage-management excludes the general public from an effective say in government, political or economic. It's about limiting the personnel of government and the policies of government to those that serve the parties' hold on power. Party politics, with its monopolistic electoral systems, its hotch-pot manifestos, its whipping orthodoxies, its self-serving propaganda is necessarily both anti-democratic and anti-scientific. Until this political system of ignorant exclusion changes, nothing will really change, no matter how environmental the new leafs parties turn over.

The findings of the Power Report, for instance, clearly show that the right to choose between party masters is no longer generally considered an adequate idea of democracy. There is a vicious circle of mutual contempt between rulers and ruled, the ignorers and the ignored, who are increasingly ignoring them back, in falling voter turn-outs. A lot of politicians are lawyers, who are used to their word being law. F E Smith, himself a lawyer-politician was asked by a judge: Are you showing contempt for this court?
Smith replied: I'm trying not to.

Beyond this, I admit there is a deeper problem, which many people have recognised, thru-out the ages. It comes down to basic beliefs or religion, of knowing oneself and what one really stands for. As the sociologists say, every person is like a society. And that implies we are a mass of conflicting motives that we've picked up thru our lives. Some traditional societies have tried to protect their members from bad influences or heresies. Heretics are those who choose. But choice is an essential function of adapting to a changing world, of learning more than we knew and developing by it, as human beings and societies.

The ethics of choice means a greater power for good as well as for evil. Democracy is needed to spread power and wealth so that a few cannot commit choices that injure the many, as is happening in our world. And so that every-one may contribute the power of good that is in them to benefit the world.

This brief can only very imperfectly state a position. In so doing, I realise it sounds as dogmatic as those views it seeks to refute. But that is the point of a web site to study the situation more fully. I dont feel like working on this brief like a poem till it's somehow made word perfect. No doubt Ive left out things that I might have thought to say on another day. Maybe youve got the general drift and feel that some pages are worth reading. The site goes much beyond the topics here mentioned.

Richard Lung
May 2006

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