The Epistemology of Winston Peters

“Unless I say it, then nothing’s true.”

Thus speaks Winston Peters on whether he is running for the Auckland (super-)Mayoralty. However, when I skimmed the article my first thought was ‘Is Winston really our source of true beliefs?’ If he is, what does that mean?

Winston Peters, for my non-Aotearoa/Te Wai Pounamu-based readers, is the leader of a populist, often prejudiced, political party. His party failed to make the threshold in the last election and thus Peters has gone into a kind of retirement (I say ‘kind of’ because he tends to rise from the ashes and I wouldn’t be surprised, if the Rapture ever occurred, that he would somehow manage to take control of Heaven; I have the suspicion that he is that kind of man). That’s by-the-by, however; Peters is also a great source of Conspiracy Theories about New Zealand; he was the public face of the Winebox Inquiry and has made claims about Russian submarines, Libertarian pederasts and the like.

Sometimes, he is right. The Winebox Inquiry showed some degree of conspiratorial activity (which may well have been lawful) and the Jim Peron scandal… well, I probably shouldn’t call it a Conspiracy Theory except for the fact that Person seems to insinuate that it was a smear campaign set up against him… Anyway. The point here is that whilst Peters sometimes gets it right he often gets it very, very wrong.

Peters often claimed that the Media were out to get him, but that ordinary New Zealanders would see through the smokescreen of allegations and the like. I’m hard-pressed to call this a Conspiracy Theory because every politician says the same thing whether they are right or wrong. However, Peters has claimed so much more:

(There was, just after the election when the media were crowing over Peters defeat and the demise of New Zealand First, a list of some of the wackier claims Peters has made. At the time I made a great deal out of it, because a family member had been going ‘Well, he’s always been right in the past…’ and this list, I believe in a Sunday Star Times, showed that, actually, he’s more often wrong than right. I should have clipped the list out, but I did not, and now it seems lost to history. A pity.)

Matthew Hooton’s blog (which I never thought I’d link to) has an impressive list of things Peters has claimed. I won’t detail them any further, but it makes for interesting reading.

So, imagine a world where “Unless I say it, then nothing’s true,” a world where our true beliefs come from one Winston Peters. The mind boggles ((Note to self; play ‘Boggle’ some day.)). It would be a world where Conspiracies were (even more?) common, a world where the words of a politician should be taken as being more important than a member of the public and a world where vested interests must be investigated… to a certain point.

If the rumours are right, it is also a world where Peters becomes the Mayor of Super-Auckland.

This may well seem very silly, and it is, but as an Epistemologist I find the phrase “Unless I say it, then nothing’s true” to be incredibly intriguing, especially when it is abstracted from its context.

Food for thought.


Giovanni says:

Are you familiar with the works of Greg Egan? I think you’d enjoy his novel Distress, for starters. It is based on the conceit that you are describing writ VERY large.

admin says:

I know of him but have not read any of his works. I shall put it on the list of things I will get around to reading post the thesis.

Giovanni says:

This one might be worth approaching during the thesis – it’s a cosmological apotheosis of the conspiracy theory.

admin says:

I’ll see if the library has a copy. I haven’t read any fiction in a while so it might be time to have a dip back into those heady waters.

Madeleine says:

Peron will say anything but the truth. There was no conspiracy just a pack of lies on Peron’s part.

admin says:

Well, the Peron Conspiracy (as I shall henceforth let it be known as) is that you two and Lindsat Perigo spread scurrilous lies about Peron due to some ‘agenda.’ It is, of course, not true; you uncovered actual evidence of Peron’s wrongdoing and his supporters are just trying to cover that up, but they do seem to think you were engaged in a plot to besmirch him.

Madeleine says:

Yes I recall only too well all this rubbish about plots and conspiracies. Such fantasies are far preferable to believe than the fact Jim Peron allowed a paedophile support group to meet in his store, hired paedophiles to work in his store, advocated for the lowering of sexual consent to age 10, published a paedophile journal and wrote articles in it where he not only justified paedophilia as loving but also distinguished it from child abuse and called critics of it hysterics.

What would his supporters have everyone believe? That I, in the mid 80’s, at age 12, flew to San Francisco and stashed a copy of Unbound, that I had written myself, in the archives of a US library in anticipation of the time, 15 years into the future, where I could then help a politician whose politics I despise and a Libertarian I have never met to smear a man I had never heard of with paedophile allegations?

I understand that it is hard to believe bad things about your friends but all this plots and conspiracies rubbish was so desperate it was sad.

admin says:

Actually, given their fantasy, I suspect they think you used a time machine…

Madeleine says:

LOL! Having just walked in the door having been at the movies watching Terminator that is particularly funny.