Religious Speech Sensor

In the week after 9/11/2001, then-president George Bush Jr attempted to roust world support with his declaration "you're either with us, or you're with the terrorists." At the time, the statement was instantly attacked for proposing a black and white view of the world. Arundhati Roy responded "the entire world of experience lies between those two poles." What was less obvious, however, is that the statement mirrors the Bible's Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me". Bush was not only dividing the world, but speaking in code to his religious following.

In the future, it will be useful to trace political statements back to their religious origins. Therefore, I propose, and have constructed a prototype of, a Religious Speech Sensor.

Suspicious statements in news reports like the one above can be highlighted while web browsing and pasted into the sensor. The Religious Speech Sensor (RSSense) compares the statement with the entire Bible to find the most likely verse of origin. For example, here are the best matches for the above statement "We will never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory":

  • Isa 60:20 Your sun will never again go down, or your moon keep back her light: for the Lord will be your eternal light, and the days of your sorrow will be ended.
  • Isa 47:1 Come and take your seat in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; come down from your seat of power, and take your place on the earth, O daughter of the Chaldaeans: for you will never again seem soft and delicate.
  • 1Sa 24:12 May the Lord be judge between me and you, and may the Lord give me my rights against you, but my hand will never be lifted up against you.
  • Act 13:34 And about his coming back from the dead, never again to go to destruction, he has said these words, I will give you the holy and certain mercies of David.
  • Jer 51:64 And you are to say, So Babylon will go down, never to be lifted up again, because of the evil which I will send on her: and weariness will overcome them. So far, these are the words of Jeremiah.
  • The Software

    The initial version of the software can be downloaded here. It is written in Perl.

    The Bible in text form can be download here. It is of course necessary to run the program.

    The Future

    In the future, I'd like to see the system handle additional texts, such as the Quran and the Tao Te Ching to source critical statements. I'd like to see relative ratings for each "Holy Book."

    I would also like to see some automation, so that all political speech is sourced as it is published.

    I would also like to see more intelligent search algorithms used. For example, input like "pharisees" should also match "pharisee" and "destroying" should match "destroy." "Victory" should match "win" and "succeed." I would also like to see statement ranking improve with similar word order to the original statement.


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