The Role of Expert Witnesses in the Royal Commission (Or: Asymmetric Warfare)

The royal commission will see a parade of “expert” witnesses, trotted out by hot-shot church lawyers. Many of these will be psychologists who will provide a “caring” image, as noted in yesterday’s posting. Other specialists will undoubtedly include the odd psychiatrist, child development academics, and purveyors of statistics. This strategy usually favours the side with the most money. Clearly in this instance, it will be the churches and not the victims.

To counter this imbalance, a leaf needs to be taken from the military equivalent – that is, asymmetric warfare. Limited resources must be concentrated and focused to achieve maximum impact on public perceptions. A jump to a little physics can help by analogy to explain how this strategy can work out in practice.

Most people can understand the idea of energy. The more energy, the greater the effect. Here, energy takes two symbolic forms – money and commitment. Unfortunately, the money energy of the churches will likely be greater than the commitment energy of victims and activists. So the limited energy needs to be used intelligently.

A person with low “energy” can beat a bigger opponent by turning it into a power advantage. Concentrated power can defeat sporadic releases of greater total energy. Power, in physics, is all about how fast energy is released. The total energy of a bullet is really quite small. Its power comes from how fast that energy is released. The bow and arrow works on the same principle.

In practice, this idea translates into making attacks on an opponent at times of maximum impact rather than a steady, slow release of information or arguments. That is, bluntly, choose your moment carefully and put all of your energy into it.

The second lesson from physics relates to force and pressure. Again, the church will have the advantage of greater “force” in general. They can keep up a sustained barrage by their “experts” to support their claims such as they are doing all they can to fix things.

The bullet and arrow analogy comes into play again. The reason that weapons like bullets, arrowheads, and knives are so effective is, of course, that they have sharp points. This means that a given force becomes a concentrated pressure. The practical realisation of this principle is to choose one target from the many. For example, counter one “expert”, thoroughly, who is most vulnerable. This will have more impact than targeting all of them with a low level of attack individually. By this method, victims can exert great pressure on the churches to make real changes.

Other experts will be more wary of distorting information as a result. As Mao Zedong, the late Chinese Communist leader, once said: “Execute one peasant and you educate 1,000”.

Overall, the advice being given in much less academic language, is to use limited resources wisely. This can be difficult for victims to do because the whole process can be extremely emotional. Hopefully, activists less directly involved with inner hurt will be able to fill the gap.

Finally, the reason for this blog and other people’s efforts is that the establishment could come out of the royal commission process with enough wins that victims and others will be crippled permanently by disillusionment. It is a battle we must win and it can only be won by application of asymmetric warfare of the social kind.

TOMORROW: Sporting organisations

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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