‘Politics’ essentially is collective information-processing, or collective cognition and behaviour. This article is about how to more consciously choose and improve how you receive input information, which is the earliest point in the process, so it’s the most efficient point to intervene at if you want to make better decisions with the same or less time and effort.

  1. Look at the URL before you react to the headline or the image or read it.

This is the simplest possible check, but it makes a big difference. Often when people believe nonsense, they haven’t even noticed the source.

Do you recognize…


Christmas presents weren’t originally for family and friends, but were for those who really need them, however unfamiliar or far away they are.

I have made small donations (25€) to each of these, and I recommend you do too. …


Just a little reminder, again, that what’s at stake here isn’t just the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, but also the whole culture of human rights as foundational for law and for legitimate state authority and institutions.

The whole of current refugee law (at least the primary law, not all of the case law is so consistent) is premised on the belief in inherent human dignity, universally, as a natural fact, which logically and ethically implies social duties to one another, which are called ‘human rights’.

If the government succeeds in abrogating the universality of human rights for the…


We will all, almost certainly, encounter some manipulative disinformation or propaganda today, and every day. We most probably won’t recognise all of it as what it really is. Foreign authoritarian regimes using manipulative online tactics have smartened up their game since 2016, so to not be gullible now is even harder. Even I can’t guess every troll account correctly.

Test yourself. What you should get from this is a sense of wow it’s hard!, and that this sort of method of checking whether a social media account has an authentic individual human being behind it is inevitably unreliable — they…


Dear colleague refugee rights advocates, I think you are mistaken in assuming that there’s a common enough basis of ethical beliefs in European societies now so that we only need to do fact-checking and explaining the law again and again. That could be worse than useless.

The anti-refugees discourse exists because populist-nationalists and fascists instrumentalize the issue to propagate their alternative system of moral values and epistemological practices. They would be probably be secretly disappointed if refugees stopped arriving irregularly on mass, because then what would they use as materials for making propaganda?

They keep repeating the same false claims…


Gerald Knaus, the author of the ideas in the EU-Turkey Deal, is proposing a Deal 2. The Deal presumes Turkey is a Safe Third Country, which has proven untrue. So the returns mechanism does not work, which causes overcrowding on the islands, which provides more material basis for populist-nationalist agitation against refugees and propaganda against the EU, rather than reducing it. Refugees do not cause EU destabilization; poor leadership does.

Gerard Knaus, pictured in his own tweet: https://twitter.com/rumeliobserver/status/1223403891045404672

Intro — context and central thesis

Analysis of Deal 1

Analysis of Knaus’ proposal for Deal 2

How Turkey is not a…


Refugees arriving irregularly en masse do not cause EU destabilisation, but, when that happens, lack of political leadership according to EU values does.

Gerald Knaus, the author of the ideas in the EU-Turkey Deal, is proposing Deal 2. The Deal presumes Turkey is a Safe Third Country, which has been proven untrue. So the returns mechanism does not work, which causes overcrowding on the islands, which provides more material basis for populist-nationalist agitation against refugees and propaganda against the EU. Refugees do not cause EU destabilization; poor leadership does.

Gerard Knaus, pictured in his own tweet: https://twitter.com/rumeliobserver/status/1223403891045404672

EU political leaders have repeated endlessly that the refugee mass influx…


Law is not a pick and mix sweeties shop for politicians to use as and when they please and leave the rest — apply the whole law properly or else Greece and Turkey should drop their procedural law treaty commitments to the EU.

As I’ve pointed out many times before, with more references: (https://www.facebook.com/kester.ratcliff/posts/10154710026256238, https://www.facebook.com/kester.ratcliff/posts/10156733026516238, https://www.facebook.com/kester.ratcliff/posts/10154401376316238, )

The Greek state has the legal trigger to OBLIGE the rest of the EU to share responsibility in case of a Mass Influx of people likely to be in need of international protection, which has been the case since 2015 and is likely…


‘Dominance theory’ stands for the theory which assumes that everything in dog behaviour and training can be explained in terms of ‘dominance’, and therefore assumes the way to train your dog is basically to over-dominate it.

Scientifically this ranks as antiquated bullshit, as much bullshit as the geocentric universe model, but it’s still believed at least partially by most dog owners, and TV companies still hire charlatans to make TV shows based on it.

It is indeed a traditional majority opinion, but so was the geocentric universe model. Most people in his lifetime believed that Galileo was wrong. …


comparing & evaluating different definitions of ‘propaganda’

I wrote the first edition of this article in 2018, and I’ve updated it many times since. In this update (Feb 2021), I added a discussion on intentionality~stochasticity, based on Asmolov (2019) and my own observations, and I’ve found more to read. This is an evolving record of my reading and thinking. The most famous history of propaganda, by Jowett and O’Donnell, is now on its 7th edition and their first edition was in 1986.

When I first wrote this, I was preparing to publish ‘the Assadists Directory’,* a report on 150 pro-Assad regime international propagandists, and I was aiming…

Kester Ratcliff

Lapsed biologist retraining as a social data scientist, often writing about refugee rights advocacy and political philosophy.

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