Nadia’s blog

False truths survey
21 April, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: HDG400 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As part of our research we are conducting a survey on truth in society. We invite you to fill out this survey on your personal experiences. It will only take 5 minutes, and your input would be greatly appreciated.

By filling out this survey you are allowing us to use the information provided in our research. We do not take any personal details, so your identity will remain anonymous.

Also, please visit our blog.

Thank you,
Alex Turnbull & Nadia Hisheh.


Where to from here?

Where to from here? It’s hard to say… there are so many interesting avenues one could walk down, but it all comes down to this choice here and now. It’s kind of like a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment.

Anyway, Alex and I have established our group blog False Truths. We will be looking at the use and manipulation of language by politicians, the media and other ‘authority figures’ with power and influence over individuals and society.

We aim to show the truth in language by exposing it for what it really is, be that good or bad. People should be able to judge what is true based upon the best information possible (one cannot say ‘based on the truth’, because ‘truth’ is so subjective), not on the surrounding spin – it is only then they will know what they really think. We aim to empower people with the tools to see through this blurry haze created by deceitful language.

Please go and check out our blog – feel free to make comments, and feedback or help would be much appreciated!

After the literature review

Following the hand-in and presentation of our literature review, Alex and I have chosen our direction. We still have much to settle, but here is where we are going with it:


The central theme of our research will be truth in relation to language. It will encompass the sub-themes of spin, public knowledge and awareness, manipulation, what society and individuals will believe, social values, public trust and censorship of truth. We are beginning to put together ideas for outcomes that will achieve our goals (as outlined in the image above), but we will keep plugging away at the research for the moment (next couple of days) so that we have a fuller understanding of our topic.

More research avenues
10 March, 2008, 11:16 am
Filed under: HDG400 | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have another research suggestion: try searching the ABC radio national transcript archives ( There is a lot of useful information and it will give you the names of leading experts in the fields you are looking at.

Research avenues
9 March, 2008, 8:33 pm
Filed under: HDG400 | Tags: , , , ,

Hello all,

Thought you might be interested in this site:

It allows you to search the Australian Parliamentary Library for the following:

  • Bills Digests
  • Research Papers
  • Background Notes – formerly E-Briefs and Chronologies
  • Monthly statistical bulletin
  • Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia
  • Monographs – (Australian Parliamentary Fellow, fmly Political Studies Fellow)
  • Parliamentary Library Briefing Book: Key Issues for the 42nd Parliament
  • Vision in Hindsight – a collection of essays that tells the story of how Parliament has fashioned and reworked the intentions of those who crafted the Constitution.
  • Parliamentary Papers index, 1992-
  • Explanatory Memoranda index, 1901-1982
  • Royal Commissions, 1902-2006
  • E-Briefs – now produced as Background Notes
  • Chronologies – now produced as Background Notes
  • Background Notes – Senators and Members only
  • Research Briefs
  • Research Notes
  • Current Issues Brief
  • Background Paper

(all of the above dot points were taken from the website)


Australian Policy Online is a great website. It has so many useful research papers and it’s affiliated with Swinburne. It’s definitely worth a look.

“Ask yourself: would you stay if your value-added was not appreciated?”

I’ve been reading Don Watson’s ‘Death Sentence’. I recommend it already, and I’ve barely made a dent in it.

Public language is the language of politicians, marketing and advertising, management and the media. It is the language of public life – the language of power.

Below are a few key (Don Watson would love this) quotes from the book:

“… It is right that the culture and environment should be so respected. Yet everyday we vandalise the language, which is the foundation, the frame and joinery of the culture, if not its greatest glory, and there is no penalty and no way to impose one. We can only be indignant. And we should resist.”

“… Judging an employee’s performance, for example, comes down to this:
The role of the corporate centre is to worry about talent and how people do relative to each other. Workers build a set of intangibles around who they are. If they are not appreciated for their value-added they will go somewhere else.
Ask yourself: would you stay if your value-added was not appreciated?”

So far, my understanding of the book is that much of public language has reduced the English language to meaningless “sludge”. This largely began in the early 1980s “when economics (and business) became so decidedly mainstream”. Language in society follows fashions, it begins with politicians and the military and filters through to the media, then down to the man in the street, so that we are all talking about “our core values and beliefs”.

All of this is starting to remind me of Barbara Kruger, in particular, her piece “I shop therefore I am” (Google it. I got 84 hits on my page in one day recently just because I linked to the image and I’m over it). From memory, these words adorned the swingtags on clothing sold in a large British chainstore. It also reminds me of Monday night’s lecture, where a major (almost said key) theme was consumerism. Has consumerism replaced thinking? What would René Descartes think?

Watson, D 2003, Death sentence: the decay of public language, Milsons Point, NSW: Random House Australia.

What we’re doing

The topic our group was assigned is Language. We are currently keeping it broad, with each of us looking at a different aspect of the topic, and then collaborating on the literature review.

We are, at the moment, looking at the following areas:

  • Mark – images & icons in modern languages
  • Michael – evolution of languages
  • Andrew – the function of language, how it is used & how we communicate
  • Alex – how technology affects language & whether people understand the language used to describe sustainability (eg: ‘global warming’, etc.)

I am looking at literacy.

I have found some astounding statistics. The Australian Bureau of Statistics completed a survey called the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey in 2006. This survey ranked Australians between levels one and five, with one being lowest and five being highest (and three being the “minimum required for individuals to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work in the emerging knowledge-based economy”.

Below is an excerpt taken directly from the report:

Approximately 7 million (46%) Australians aged 15 to 74 years had scores at Level 1 or 2 on the prose scale, a further 5.6 million (37%) at Level 3 and 2.5 million (16%) at Level 4/5. Results for document literacy were similar to prose. There were 7 million (47%) Australians at Level 1 or 2 on the document scale, 5.4 million (36%) at Level 3 and 2.7 million (18%) at Level 4/5. On the numeracy scale, approximately 7.9 million (53%) Australians were assessed at Level 1 or 2, 4.7 million (31%) at Level 3 and 2.4 million (16%) at Level 4/5. On the problem solving scale, approximately 10.6 million (70%) Australians were assessed at Level 1 or 2, 3.7 million (25%) at Level 3 and 800,000 (5%) at Level 4 (table 1).

I am also currently reading ‘Death Sentence’ by Don Watson on the decay of public language. I have several other books on hold and many more downloaded reports to read.

Literacy is such an important issue. A lack of literacy affects people’s ability to understand, comprehend and discern information. It denies them an avenue with which to express their feelings, tell their stories or just generally communicate. It can affect further education and job prospects. There are a multitude of issues within this, I have only skimmed the surface here. Literacy affects the everyday lives of so many people.

We are doing quite well on the poster, with a concept in place and most of our images sourced. All we really need to do is execution.


‘Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey’ 2006, Summary Results, Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, viewed 29 February 2008,