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The Society for Research into Higher Education

MarciaDevlin


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Policy and Funding in Australia : If you repeat something often enough, can it become ‘the truth’?

By Marcia Devlin

In his poem, ‘The Hunting of the Snark’, Lewis Carroll points out that if you repeat something often enough, it can become ‘the truth’.

     ‘Just the place for a Snark!’ the Bellman cried,

As he landed his crew with care;

Supporting each man on top of the tide

                                                    By a finger entwined in his hair.

                                                    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:

                                                    That alone should encourage the crew.

                                                    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

                                                   What I tell you three times is true.’

I wonder whether some Australian media commentators and politicians have a copy of this poem next to their beds. It is possible that this poem is where they got the idea to repeat statements and assumptions related to a connection between low Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) scores and lower university education standards over and over again until they become accepted, unquestioned knowledge. Continue reading