Aussie Yarns - Dave Goddard

Stories about Australia

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Anchor Points

I was going to send this out before Christmas but decided to wait until the festivities were over. The point of this blog, as the title indicates, is to stress the importance in society of anchor points, a phrase my erstwhile colleague, Colin Bell used when we were discussing some of the content of the epistle. Perhaps this content is something ponder over the coming year, and a document you may like to share or forward to friends, as I believe it makes a few points about the future of this state, country and, possibly, the current social structure of many parts of the world, particularly those where what we classify as ‘freedom’ (for example, ‘freedom of speech’) still exist. If this in any way moves you, whether positively or negatively, again, feel free to reply or better still, share and see what the results are,

I walked past the sign (pictured right) out the front of a local house today.

I’d seen it posted outside a number leading to Christmas and it begged the question, ‘what happened to the word please?’ Why would Santa, however, benevolent that character may towards children, stop because a three, four or six year old commanded it.

Is it appropriate that adults role model to young people that it’s okay to think they have the authority to command rather than request? Is it indicative of a decay in manners and social relationships.

That led me to think of other examples, such as an increasing attitude that smacks of ignoring authority by no longer stopping at stop signs; simply slowing and cruising through them. What about the many people around where I live having no qualms about ignoring watering restrictions and using sprinklers any time and day they choose? And the other day at the local Puma Garage, a 4WD drive pulled in, the driver put in some petrol, and then gunned the engine and disappeared up the highway without paying. I quizzed the attendant as I paid as to whether he wanted the licence plate number. He told me he had it, it would be reported as he did with the ten to twenty incidents like it he had each day, but the police rarely acted on such trivialities as they were too busy dealing with billion dollar drug imports, racial violence and murders.

What stood up in my thinking over the past two weeks is that we’re in an environment of massive change in terms of social order, with same-sex marriage as a bastion of equality, economic upheaval between nations as a signal of increasing disorder, increasing legislation being necessary to deal with road rage, violent home invasions and robbery, home violence, and you can add to those without to much trouble if you wish. And while these things are happening, we are losing and not replacing the things Colin called anchor points; those traditions, rules and values that stabilized our community through until the nineteen-seventies. I am not proposing a return to the ideas of that era, by the way, such as the traditional concept of no sex before marriage (or, if it happened and became obvious, that wonderful image-creator, the ‘shotgun wedding’ that followed.)

But I’m suggesting that before we get too much further down the road of social change, we must start re-defining traditions, rules and values, including penalties for not adhering to these, that we believe are essential to social and economic order.

What is a potential consequence if we don’t, I  hear you ask?

Two hundred and forty years ago, white people came and settled or conquered (depending on your point of view) this country. It was, for Aboriginal people across Australia , a decades-long tidal wave of western influence and control that several Aboriginal people have termed a holocaust. And a consequence of that holocaust was the gradual loss of traditional anchor points, reflected today in the attitudes and behaviours of many Aboriginal youth, lost between their culture and western culture. And for those who say they shouldn’t be the sole example, I agree. Whether I think of black and white cultures, old and young, male and female, immigrant and Australian cultures … there’s a grey area emerging where there are no anchor points. If we want to avoid the experiences of Aboriginal people, it’s time to start setting anchor points in more ways than just by focussing on equality.

My final point is that I have nothing against equality, provided it is seen, always, as equality of opportunity. But when we focus on results or outcomes, then the concept of equity (meaning justice) must prevail, otherwise the grey area will grow and gradually darken until it’s pitch black, because equality does not generate anchor points.

Here Comes Christmas

These days, Christmas always seems to arrive well before I expect it! I can’t work out if its the busy nature of life causing days to zoom past and suddenly December is here, or if it’s just a factor of growing older: the concept of time seeming to pass nore quickly with age. I sense it’s probably a combination of both of those, and perhaps many other things too. But I still remember as a child that from one Christmas day to the next became my definition of ‘eternity’. Now, the terminology which fits best for me is ‘Christmas Day: the day before yesterday’.

All of that to one side, I trust your Christmas and new year are precious times with family and friends, my thanks for your on-going support over this year, and hope 2018 is fruitful and enjoyable for you and all those you care about.

2017/18 News

It’s been a good year in terms of promoting the published novels and their sales as paperbacks, audio-books and e books, promotions of the short stories and writing the next epistle.

Promotion and sales of the published novels have gone well over the year. We have undertaken many presentations to various organisations and clubs and are preparing an agenda for 2018 as I write. We have appreciated the welcome received in everywhere, the interest in the novels and our thanks for both of those.

All three published novels are now completed as audio-books and we have appreciated the efforts and support of the staff and volunteers at VisAbility WA, in particular Dinesh and Susie. If anyone would like to order any of the versions, including e-books, go to for directions or contact us on and we will respond post haste. Current prices for paperbacks and audio-books are $25.00 for a one copy, $45.00 for two and $60.00 for three. If e-books are of interest, they can be purchased on Amazon.

In terms of new work, I am reaching a final first draft of ‘Life Sentence’. I will have that story reviewed over the next few weeks and from the feedback, decide if it’s ready to publish or whether changes are needed to make it more enticing and appealing. There have been several issues in developing the novel, which for me arise from presenting the content as a mix of historical fact and pure fiction. I will talk about those issues more in Life Sentence 5 after Christmas (on the website under the heading Novels.)

Capital Radio 101.7 continues to present my short stories once a month, and I think Tony and the crew for their on-going interest and support. It has been a worthwhile process according to the feedback as some themes about relationships between cultures seem to have had an effect.

In terms of the future, I am currently negotiating with Vision Australia radio to present the short stories and, possibly, a serialised version of one or more of the audio-books. The one most likely to be aired is “Hiding Place”. It is also possible that the negotiations could lead to chance of national airplay which would be very powerful. We will see what happens.

Again, all the best for Christmas and the new year from Karen, Andrew, Paul and myself and look forward to catching up again 2018.


It’s Been a While: Must be October

Karen and I are back. We have returned from a great three weeks around the south-west of England, mainly in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, although we also journeyed to Canterbury and Cambridge among other little jaunts.

We were both rivetted by many things: the sense of history, the tradition of conserving old buildings to portray that history, the scenic beauty of the Cornwall and Devon northern coasts and so much more. I hope we can say more about the trip at different times, but for now, let me outline one conclusion I reached by the end of the trip: that the English economy these days, particularly to provide employment for the masses, is based on what I have determined are the 5 Ps:

  • Preservation (of old castles, houses and churches, monuments, Roman bridges and roads, and even stonework to prevent or shore up erosion by the sea in harbours, cliff faces or perennially flowing rivers chewing at their banks
  • Praying (the system in vogue of being charged to go into so many of the larger and oldest churches churches these days to view them)
  • Parking (many small villages, with streets small and narrow, now have long- and short-term parking areas charging two quid or three quid for two or three hours, and quite often staff who take the money, direct traffic into bays and issue tickets to offenders)
  • Public Transport (buses which charge around four quid to travel both ways from those parking area to the towns, making a nice quid for the companies, who also employ staff to direct the buses when they are parking to let passengers off and stop traffic so they can)
  • Piddling (It’s now 30p to 50p per piddle in many toilets across the nation, which enables the employment a host of managers and cleaners to make sure things are up to scratch, so to speak.)

The notion of self-help is strongly embedded in the culture. I always recall associating it with Margaret Thatcher, of whom Ronnie Barker once quipped, “I understand our Prime Minister is committed to the new policy of ensuring prisoners in Her Majesty’s Institutions pay ten pounds a week for bed and board.”

But on a complimentary note, I understand that the policy of self-help has generated something like 60 000 volunteers to assist the National Trust. And the way in which the country preserves its heritage and encourages voluntarism is a lesson, if we care to take heed of it.

What Constitutes Progress: Outcomes or Process?

As “Life Sentence” comes closer to fruition and a range of alternative titles arise, recent developments in the sphere of politics focussed on Australian Indigenous peoples have come into sharp relief for me And let me be clear: I am not an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander individual. I have Caucasian heritage that seems to go back deep into the mists of antiquity.

But I read with interest about Tony Abbott’s week in the Kimberley and Malcolm Turnbull’s comments in Western Australia for the Liberal Conference. In both cases, I found myself asking the question of what constitutes progress. (Bill Shorten, to date, as the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has said little beyond advocating the need for more Aboriginal representation in Parliament and his desire to listen carefully to Senator Pat Dodson. I wait with bated breath for more from him but make a comment below anyway.)

Tony Abbott is very clear that his recent week in remote communities convinced him that his theme of improving attendance at current schools is essential to bridge the gap for Indigenous children.


Malcolm Turnbull was just as emphatic that use of the welfare card has the backing of a greater majority of Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people. And I’m not saying either person’s intentions are misplaced or even wrong. Both themes may well, in the long term, be useful solutions to issues that face Indigenous people, as long as consideration is given to Indigenous people having the right to choose either, and the potential negative consequences of each if they are chosen. But so far, I see no evidence of either happening, historically or now.

My learning over the past thirty years is that before the coming of non-Indigenous people to this land, there were perhaps 300 (if not more) Indigenous nations or language groups existing. In reading and hearing from Abbott and Turnbull, their language conveys the sense that Indigenous people are an entity: one group with like values and goals. While there has been some recognition of the difference between Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders, at the next level down, difference becomes extended and extensive.

For me, the lack of a genuine process to speak with and define the needs of different Indigenous groups across Australia still hasn’t been explored. Bill Shorten’s desire to increase Indigenous representation in Australian parliaments to equate with their population numbers (three per cent), is a Westminster notion of democratic representation. Many will applaud the intention but have they ever thought about its genesis and potential consequences? Non-Indigenous thinking doesn’t seem to have moved beyond being enamoured with a solution, just as the diversity of Indigenous groups at many levels isn’t recognised.

We still operate on the basis of a desired outcome, rather than a process involving the various groups. With all respect for Senator Dodson, and Noel Pearson, whose efforts on behalf of their people can only be admired, from what I know of Indigenous cultures, that they no more speak for groups other than their own than I do.  That all brings into perspective the importance of the heritage of people in various groups, each one’s right to speak for or on behalf of their group or groups or not as the case may be, and the opportunities for all groups to communicate their wishes.

In summary, my first point is that there are no simple solutions to an historically created situation. My second point is that an outcome of what is currently occurring is the increased possibility of assimilation, which means cultures, with values that don’t align with the majority, wither and die.

As I have said before, I have no objection to assimilation occurring if those being assimilated choose it. To date, however, I have to argue that very few Indigenous people have had the choice, and current political messages seem to be making it less and less likely.

August Again

Well, I just had to publicize the completion of all three currently published novels as MP3s: recorded versions for listening to for those with vision impairment or for people on long trips, ploughing paddocks or just as a change from having to turn pages.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank Dinesh Burah and Susie Punch at VisAbility for their interest and support, the three readers in Elwyn Edwards (The WILUNA Solution), Alan Needham (Hiding Place) and Ross Bryant (Turn on a Light), and all those who assisted the readers or who undertook aspects of the publication. It’ a good feeling to be allowed to reach a wider audience and to have contributed some small way to the magnificent work VisAbility undertakes. Formerly Guide Dogs for the Blind, (which it still has under its umbrella), it has broadened its focus in many ways over the past few ways. Good on you and looking forward to working with you on “Life Sentence”.

For anyone who would like copies of any or all three, email me at or use the website contact ( and you can collect or I can forward them to you at a small charge. The prices are as for hard copies: $25.00 for a single novel, $45.00 for two novels, or $60.00 for all three. Alternatively, contact VisAbility or Westbooks, but I don’t have their prices.



It’s August, Cold and Dank and Wet

Hi and trust you’re all well.

The heading above (and the way this blog has evolved into a monthly presentation) comes from a song by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann called A Song of the Weather. It can be heard on an album recorded in the 1960s named At the Drop of a Hat. The song, lyrics reproduced below, itemizes the weather in England each month of a year. It is said to be a parody of the 1834 poem January Brings the Snow by Sara Coleridge. Be that as it may, Flanders and Swann penned the following:

January brings the snow,
Makes your feet and fingers glow.

February’s ice and sleet
Freeze the toes right off your feet.

Welcome March with Wintry wind
Would thou wert not so unkind!

April brings the sweet spring showers,
On and on for hours and hours.

Farmers fear unkindly May
Frost by night and hail by day.

June just rains and never stops
Thirty days and spoils the crops.

In July the sun is hot.
Is it shining? No, it’s not.

August, cold and dank and wet,
Brings more rain than any yet.

Bleak September’s mist and mud
Is enough to chill the blood.

Then October adds a gale,
Wind and slush and rain and hail.

Dark November brings the fog
Should not do it to a dog.

Freezing wet December, then
Bloody January again!

For me, the humour of the English remains unsurpassed, even compared with the cleverness of the Irish.

Events and Happenings:

  1. We’ve just received word that our third novel, Turn on a Light has been completed in MP 3 format. Our thanks to Dinesh, Susie Punch and all those involved at Visability for the production and trust each novel assists them in their work. Anyway, for those who like to listen rather than read, or those travelling long distances and unable to read while driving, they can be purchased by contacting us on or using the website as a means of contact. The cost of each MP 3 is $25.00 but a discount will be negotiated for purchases of two or more titles.
  2. Negotiations are now underway with Vision Australia, which is very interested in broadcasting our short stories read by Paul David-Goddard and exploring the possibility of having one or more of the three MP 3 novels serialized. The organization operates its own radio stations in a number of capital cities. In Perth, where the idea will be trialled, the station is at 990 AM. Part of the trialling, if it goes ahead, will be to present a chapter of a recorded (MP 3) novel each week. I’ll keep you updated on progress. The presentation of short stories on 101.7 FM (Capital Radio) on a monthly basis will continue and I’m indebted to Tony Howes and 101.7 for the continued support.
  3. August will be busy in terms of presentations. We completed one earlier this week with Shalom, a delightful group of people whose connection with the themes of the Aussie Yarns novels is very strong. Jewish history allows those people to connect with many elements of the development, and on-going issues for, the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Looking forward to meeting five more groups over this month.
  4. With the assistance of Suzanne Barton, we are regenerating a Facebook page. Suzanne herself is a self-published author, focussing on children’s literature. Her first book is titled Meeka and can be accessed on Facebook. Our regenerated page has taken the old Hiding Place site and renamed it Aussie Yarns. We’re using it to spread the word more broadly about the novels. From recent sales, interest in them seems to be increasing which is heartening.
  5. After lengthy negotiations, we decided not to proceed with the offer to publish Turn on a Light, made by an English Company. There were a number of reasons, which boiled down to editorial control versus financial returns. We effectively chose to retain the former, in part because we were not unduly impressed by the level of financial returns offered.
  6. The fourth novel, Life Sentence, progresses. Editing the first draft (which basically means hacking and chopping repetition and connecting the logic of the sequence of events in this story with historical facts around 1899 and 1900). We are indebted to Patsy Vizents at Rottnest Island Authority for her continued support in terms of history as well several members of Rottnest Volunteers. At the moment, the tentative title remains but we’ve been thinking of alternatives. As the novel focuses on the way the legal system was organized and operated between 1880 and 1900 in relation to Aboriginal people, a couple of titles we’ve generated have related to justice. One is Dark Justice. If something springs to mind about the way the legal system operated back in the late 19th Century, and the basic equity of its operations, don’t hesitate to flick your idea through. If we choose to use it, we would acknowledge you accordingly.

Fun in July

Hi and just returned from a couple of exciting events. One was a presentation we undertook at Balingup on the novel Hiding Place.  The other was being able to spend a week on Rottnest, which allowed research into aspects to do with the novel Life Sentence that’s getting closer to fruition.

“Hiding Place” and Balingup

As well as a delightful location, Balingup has lovely people. We enjoyed the journey, the evening at Greenbushes Hotel where the presentation took place, and the hospitality of Janine, the convenor of one book club and Steve, her husband. Thanks to members of two book clubs and a writer’s group, as well as several husbands of participants, for the welcome, the fun and the learning.

The reason for presenting on the evening came from  a question I was asked about the novel. A reason for the selection of the novel as one to read and to present  was the view that it has a gentle way of challenging people to think about and consider cultural difference. My definition of culture is as “the way we do things around here”, so cultural difference simply means things can be and are done differently. From that perspective, many things are neither right nor wrong: they just “are”.

The question I was asked was why, with a research background and the understandings I had about how to connect with Aboriginal people and build relationships, I hadn’t written a sort of text book on strategies rather than a fictional novel. I thought it was an excellent question and said so. It really made me think.

In summary, the reasons I gave were as follows:

  • to try to reach a wider group of people using fiction rather than non-fiction. Academic works can, in some ways, put people off rather than attract them, and the content must be accurate (see next point)
  • the fact that what I wrote of Aboriginal culture were the views of a white person, and perhaps not accurate for any, some or all Aboriginal people
  • to provide a challenge to non-Aboriginal people to begin to search for their answers by building relationships with Aboriginal people and asking them questions, rather than asking another white person. There is so much to be heard, ingested, thought about and ultimately reasoned out. There is, in my view, no formula for all occasions or groups.


Perhaps the main theme that came through being on the island was one of affirmation about Life Sentence in 1899. While some aspects of the novel are fictionalised, connecting the dots around the year in question has required some careful research. For example, my first draft focused on 1900 and the months of June and July. In the Rottnest aspect of the story, I introduced a machine called a heliograph, a machine that could send messages in morse code using sunlight and mirrors. While its presence and operations were fact, it was replaced early in 1900 by a telephone cable which allowed telegraphic communication with the mainland. The solution was to go back a year and redo the dates.

I’ve tried to do the same with this novel as with the other three: researching to be as accurate as possible with historical facts, geographic locations and people and their names and roles. While each of the four novels has brought its own issues, Life Sentence, like The WILUNA Solution, has brought more rather than less. Even so, it has been an enjoyable exercise with great assistance from Patsy Vizents, Heritage Officer with the Rottnest Island Authority and Bob Chapman, Head of Archives for  the Rottnest Volunteer Guides.

I was asked why I felt the need to do the amount of research that I undertake, and I think it goes back to Elaine Fry in The Western Australian describing Turn on a Light as an extension of reality. As I’ve mentioned above, I take that as a compliment and a motivational force to try to make aspects of Australian history more accessible to many people, particularly Aboriginal matters.

June Update 2017

Hi and trust all goes well for you.

The WILUNA Solution

I received a comment on The WILUNA Solution a while ago, which I forgot to share with you. Anna Wright sent it and it read:

Hi Dave

Thank you so much for one of the best reads I have had this year. 

I needed something to read over the Christmas period. Your book caught my eye at the library. I found it so very well written, totally absorbing, intriguing and picturesque that I now want to go to Wiluna and immerse myself in the area.


Anna Wright

Thanks so much, Anna.

The Shire of Wiluna operates an Art Gallery (Tjukurba) at the rear of the Shire Offices, a building which was, as I say in the novel, the original hospital and central to the story. Tjukurba also stocks the story and has made a lot of sales, particularly during the tourist season. I sent this comment to them and they are interested in using it to promote the town, and the novel.

Speaking of sales, all three published novels have been selling well this year, not only through presentations, but also through the small number of outlets we deal with. In addition to Wiluna, Rottnest Island Store seems to maintain consistent sales as does The Book Caffe in Mill Point Road. Bless them for the support.

Hiding Place

For those interested, Visability (WA) has just let me know that Hiding Place has joined The WILUNA Solution as an audio book in MP3 Format. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, email me on or go to the website and use CONTACT. The cost is $25.00 for one of the novels and $45.00 for both (with postage extra).

I understand that Turn on a Light is now being recorded, so it’s exciting that all three will be available in this format soon.

101.7 FM Capital Events

Another my short stories is being presented on 101.7 FM this coming Saturday. As always, it will be read by Paul Goddard and occur around 11.00 am. The photo is from an advertisement he did for JEEP a while back. He has his mother’s good looks.


I am still pondering the offer from an English company to publish Turn on a Light. My hesitation is mainly not being able to understand the process of how it promotes to vendors. I have decided to request a meeting with the editorial board when Karen and I go to England to discuss the matter further. The CE has indicated that such a meeting could be possible and it seems a sound way to get clarity.’

I am also waiting for a response from an Australian Publisher. The group indicated interest but has not yet confirmed anything in writing. Still, I’m in no hurry and it’s nice to know publishers are interested.

Stay well and I will be in touch again soon.




What’s Happening in May

101.7 FM is presenting another of my short stories on Saturday on the program Capital events with Tony Howes, probably around 11.00 am. It’s called “My Sixth Birthday Party”. It’s a yarn I’ve told to try and explain my deep interest in Aboriginal people and their cultures, and an event which I believe was an abiding influence what’s become my life’s work and learning. Through Aboriginal people and their cultural ways of knowing and doing, I’ve come to the conclusion that one culture exerting power and control over another will always fail, either in political or humane terms, and overcoming the problem the requires an understanding of what I call a “Between World”, and the ability to work with a design called “Mutual Ways” to accommodate different cultural ways of knowing and doing. Does it work? Well, my observations suggest it does. Anyway, have a listen if you have time to the genesis of those two ideas, many many years ago. In fact, “Hiding Place”, my first novel, expands on the theme of coming to understand how to operate productively in a “Between World”.
One presenter of the program, Dale James, has left the station and I acknowledge her support on my behalf in my writing career. I understand she is or will be on Curtin FM on a fortnightly basis (6 pm to 9 pm every second Tuesday, the next show being 23rd May). So I wish her well and hope we remain in contact. Well done, Dale and all the best.
On another front, we have several presentations coming up in the second half of this month, which is gratifying and shows the novels have created considerable interest.
I also received an offer from a publisher to produce “Turn on a Light”. My response so far has been full of caution. I want to know more about the company, which in effect means undertaking due diligence: researching to find out what I can from  independent sources about the company. The other has been to notify the company that I am undertaking “due diligence” and asking them several pertinent questions about their operations and information contained in the contract they forwarded to me.
I’ll let you know more about all that when I learn more.

Accessing News

The following question appeared on Aussie Yarns comments from a reader recently. Among other things, the reader asked, “Why do visitors to this site still read newspapers when in this technological age and globe, everything is accessible on the web?”

It motivated me to try and give an answer, even if it isn’t accepted. Here it is.

A simple answer is that some people don’t have computers or access to the web. That, however, is simplistic and the question goes a lot deeper.

I believe part of the answer is because there should be more trust in newspaper journalists and journalism than in on-line journalism and articles. While some individuals and organizations in both spheres can be classified as “purveyors of fake news”, there is a difference. Think, for example, of magazines and website news sources, including Facebook which some people say is where they get all their news, and Yahoo7. Sites like Yahoo7 are basically news sites and usually contain article after article on people such as the Kardashians, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and their personal relationship or comment on an individual’s view of “what Donald Trump really meant”. Who each writer is and where he or she got their information is never cited. At least on Facebook, there are some pointers to the author(s).

But on Yahoo7 and comparable sites, they seem to publish four or five times a day. So those writing must grab anything that looks as if it might attract a little attention and throw it up. Think Brad and Angelina again, or the British Royal Family, or, to get to a completely different level, incessant headlines about MKR or The Block or other reality TV shows. There is no citation of any description, except of course, the obligatory exchange between an abusive host and a teary contestant.

It’s virtually impossible to designate responsibility for what appears on any site, news or social media. That is partly because of the many levels of “ownership” and the strategy of “sharing”. Who owns an article or comment: is it Internet Explorer, Google or Mozilla for allowing, or is it the site owner, the author, the advertiser, the “sharer”, someone who comments anonymously or hackers who have decided to have fun? Is it the Russian or Chinese Governments attempting to influence the rest of the world? Try suing for defamation to see the impossibility of defining responsibility.

At least magazines and newspapers, (even though most are accessible on-line anyway these days), are published weekly or daily, there is more identification of the author, evidence is often cited within and as appendages to articles, and writers or various levels of editorial personnel can be accessed and challenged. In other words, there are more rigorous standards set and attempts are made at maintaining those standards.

Having said all that, however, there are virtues in social media formats. Facebook and Twitter, for all their failings as mediums of news, have the virtue of maintaining interpersonal communication and contacts. Sites like Wikipedia does its best to be open and honest, not only in how it operates, but in asking for sources of information if anyone adds content. And there are others that have similar virtues.

But my main point is that trusting solely in the web for information is as foolish as believing everything one reads in a newspaper. Of all I’ve learned from life itself, and I had clearly defined and re-defined through post graduate study, the most pertinent is, “and whatever you hear, question it and keep an open mind, even if the evidence suggests it is true.”

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