Bewildering Stories

Table of Contents
Chapter 26 appears
in issue 148.

Observation One:
Singing of promises ...

by Michael E. Lloyd

Chapter 27: Handler’s Studio, Mater

The Captain, for her own good reasons, had called for the latest progress review to be held in the Handler’s Studio.

The first item on the agenda was a review by Quo of the full set of Insights gained to date.

‘Over to you, Number Two.’

‘Thank you, Captain,’ Quo reflected. ‘Let me first remind you all that we have addressed three separate topics during this first major exercise.

‘The first could be described as our relatively informal observation of a small set of individuals, which has provided us with a good range of insights into their overall levels of integrity. As you know, the ten people we investigated directly from the Mater were Antonio, Giuseppe, Salvatore, Eva, Josef, Mireille, Raymond, Jean-Christophe, Jeremy, and last, but not least, Hilde.’

The Captain interrupted Quo’s train of thought with her own. ‘Yes, Number Two — we did indeed know this. Please move along ...’

‘Certainly. Our broad conclusion on the general integrity of these ten subjects, using the multi-issue variation of Truth Delta Analysis, is that, with one or two notable exceptions, they all demonstrate surprising high resistances [R] to pressure points in general [P], and correspondingly low truth deltas [P-R=D]. There are only occasional inversions, where [T-D=N<50], and in nearly every case we therefore observe a human individual for whom Untruth is a rare characteristic indeed.’

‘Do you mean,’ deduced the Captain, ‘that most of those people are basically very honest?’

‘I do, ma’am.’

‘Then kindly say so. Please go on ...’

‘The second topic,’ Quo continued, ‘was our brief observation, through secondary engagement, of the general integrity of two senior public figures who expressly purport to maintain extremely high standards. This indicated that there may be major levels of subconscious truth inversion occurring across a wide spectrum of persons in positions of high power and influence.’

‘You mean that many leaders may be deceiving themselves and others, often without always realising it?’

‘Another excellent summary, Captain.’

‘It comes with practice. And the results of the third investigation, please ...’

‘The final topic, ma’am, has been our study of the specific issue of the proposed enlargement of the European Union. For this we have gathered two types of data.

‘The first set comes from the three individuals we observed directly on this particular issue: Raymond, Jean-Christophe and Hilde.

‘The remaining information derives from the empowered observations conducted by those recruits. Raymond achieved a total of eighteen insights from a group with a wide range of interests in this issue; Jean-Christophe produced seven from a group focused tightly upon it; and Hilde’s triumphal observation of no less than five-hundred and forty-three souls, each one having only a slightly less sharp focus on the issue, may prove enough to allow us to complete the exercise.’

‘But are there not some overlaps in this data, Number Two?’

‘There are indeed, Captain. We must remove from Hilde’s results the duplicated views of the seven subjects already questioned in greater depth by Jean-Christophe.

‘Summing it all up, then, and including the views of the three empowered agents themselves, we have a total of precisely five hundred and sixty-four separate true opinions on enlargement, which we may then contrast with the same number of publicly stated positions.’

‘And the conclusions which you therefore draw, on the question of Truth ...?’

‘I recognise, ma’am, that you wish me to be succinct. Therefore I shall be. There are huge variations between three quite separate sets of measurements: the views which, over time, our individual subjects have publicly expressed; the true private views of each one of them, as gathered through our focused observations; and the specific formal voting patterns of the vast majority of our subjects, at the end of today’s enlargement debate ...’

‘Succinct, I believe you suggested, Number Two ...’

‘... and we find ...’ (Quo had almost ignored the Captain’s interjection) ... ‘we find that, applying the generalised formula [T-(P-R)=N] ...’

‘Number Two!’

‘... we find that inversions are prevalent across the whole picture, and the overall measured level of Untruth is ... approximately ... sixty-two percent!’

‘Meaning that nearly two-thirds of all the stated positions or opinions of our subjects are actually the opposite of what those subjects truly believe?’


‘You appear to have reached the end of your conclusions at last, Number Two.

‘I shall now consider for myself the validity of our sample.

‘As you are well aware, any survey with about one thousand subjects usually gives a result that is within three percentage points of the findings which would have been obtained even if many hundreds of thousands of samples had been taken.

‘I would ideally have preferred us to achieve at least a thousand subjects ... particularly as we have hardly been selecting them at random!’

A polite smile crossed the faces of all present.

‘However, we have other pressures on us, as you are all well aware. Our actual sample of less than six hundred reduces the accuracy of any conclusions we might draw. The likely variation from the true picture will be closer to plus or minus 10%.

‘Our unadjusted findings indicate an overall level of Untruth of some 60%. I believe we must be conservative — or generous to our subjects, if you wish —’ (another set of smiles filled the studio) ‘and must reduce this value by some 10%, to allow for this potential sampling error.

‘So, Number Two, are you willing to agree that we may consider the overall level of observed Untruth to be, rather intriguingly, at least 50% ...?’

‘I cannot question your logic, Captain!’

‘In that case, we may at last take our attention away from the rather uninspiring topic of EU enlargement! I consider the “hearts and minds” element of our Insight Gaining Aim to have been adequately addressed. Number Two, you will formally document all relevant data, findings and conclusions and present them for approval.’


Attention turned to the Chief Surveyor.

‘Chief, you will now finalise the excellent provisional action plans that you have been developing. We shall proceed, at a time in the very near future, to a much-increased intensity of detailed Fact Gathering. We shall also, at that time, implement our controllers’ instructions on a revised focus for Insight Gaining, targeting geophysicists and other such specialists in Earth Sciences. Needless to say, Chief, you will personally mistressmind this next phase.’

‘Of, course, ma’am,’ reflected the Surveyor, a real smile on her face at last. ‘I am relishing the challenge!’

The Captain addressed Quo once again. ‘Which brings me to offer my formal thanks, Number Two, for your fine work in the management of our first major phase of discovery.’

Quo nodded, almost modestly.

Then, with a rascally smile on her face, the Captain turned to Carla.

‘We shall of course be deploying a different Handler for the next phase — one who is a little less of an “artist” and slightly more of a “scientist” ...’

Carla smiled politely ... she knew this compliment was honestly given and also very accurate.

‘... and we shall recruit a similarly specialised new Illuminator to assist her. I think a certain young man in Venice could prove very suitable ...’

Carla knew this change would also be essential, but it still came as something of a shock.

The Captain continued.

‘I have held this meeting in your studio, Handler, to recognise your invaluable role in our work to date. You will receive an exceptional achievement award, for your highly effective management of Toni, and for your sustained devotion to duty (and to your sherpa and Illuminator!). You will soon be able to enjoy an extended period of rest and recuperation ...’

‘I am most grateful, Ma’am.’

‘And we shall now allow Toni to return home, with an irrefutable cover story.’

As Carla pondered her several reactions to the Captain’s inevitable announcements, the applause of her colleagues rang out loud and completely sincere.

‘Now — is there any other business?’

‘Yes,’ thought Carla. ‘I should very much like to be able to offer Toni an award, as well. But I realise how difficult that would be, in practice ...’

‘An excellent idea, Handler. I suggest that you simply follow your own fine instincts.’

‘Thank you, Captain.’

‘So — is there any further business?’

‘Yes,’ mused Quo. ‘There is one more informal opportunity for Insight Gaining which I cannot resist proposing ...’

After a little careful consideration, the Captain and Carla both agreed to their colleague’s polite and compelling suggestion ...

Proceed to chapter 28 ...

Copyright © 2003 by Michael E. Lloyd
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