Suing Seismologists - Responsibilities Of Scientists And Limits Of Science 15 replies

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Asheekay

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#11 7 years ago

Yes, in most countries it goes the middle way. As long as you employ your skills honestly and don't commit an error during this process, you're a good civil servant.

It happens however, that its not as black and white as it appears. There are a number of gray zones on the map. It is these which are the hardest ones to judge. Lets examine some possible scenarios:

1 a doctor prescribes a 'wrong' medicine because he thinks its useful and has had many patients cured with it despite the fact that the majority of doctors don't use it for this. This time it failed. Guilty?

2 i invest money in stock exchange with the advice of a stock broker. It all sinks. Should i sue the broker for that?

3 a doctor accidentally prescribes a wrong medicine and it clicks right to the patient's problem and cures it. The doctor later finds out his 'error'. Should the patient sue the doctor despite the fact that the 'wrong' medicine cured him?

My question is: What exactly is/should be a civil servant/employee expected of doing? Effort for the cause or achieving the results even when its beyond their faculties?




berm

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#12 7 years ago

It makes far more sense to judge efforts. No-one knows what the results are going to be until they're available via hindsight, so no-one can take any decisions on that basis when they're deciding what to do.

There's also the fact that the outcome has already happened, and whatever you decide isn't going to change that. The only thing you can alter, going forwards, is whether you make it more or less likely that the world's going to be better or worse as a consequence of your judgement in the case.

So, from your above examples. [INDENT] 1. Depends on the grounds the doctor had for believing that the medicine is useful and what his other options were. Was his decision reasonable? Did the evidence he had from his own practice outweigh the evidence supporting the use of other treatments? Was this the best bet he could reasonably have been expected to make on his patient's behalf?

2. It depends what assurances the stockbroker gave you and whether they had a reasonable basis for giving them.

3. You should sue the doctor, assuming you had some way of knowing that they gave it to you by mistake. The doctor is potentially negligent in their duties and the odds of them giving out the right medicine by mistake twice - as compared to killing someone by giving out the wrong medicine by mistake the second time - are very slim indeed.[/INDENT]




Asheekay

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#13 7 years ago

I agree. Its the effort and the honesty to the cause that should be judged, not the output. Although, for the most time, the output is directly related to the effort and honesty put in the cause.

So the question at hand is, how do we judge this very subtle thing? This "honesty to the cause" variable? How do we learn if the seismologists under consideration did their best or not? As said in the first post, sometimes the smaller quakes in a region tend to be the runners of a large one (as happened in this case) or otherwise the pressure is released with these smaller shocks and the larger one does not arrive (as was the history of that region's earthquakes).

How? How do we measure the effort they put into the cause and any (if) errors they had made in the process when it lays so deep in the guesswork realm right now?




berm

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#14 7 years ago

I don't know that it's particularly subtle. People who don't perform honestly will have inexplicably worse outcomes than similar individuals operating with similar information who do.

They'll have done some prediction work before so you'll be able to have some idea of their mental toolset. And you can see whether other people in a similar position think that, based on the data they had at the time, their conclusion was reasonable. And that should give you a pretty good idea of whether they were honest or not.




Mr. Matt VIP Member

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#15 7 years ago

To be honest, this is probably just going to result in all future earthquake predictions coming with a small print by-line stating something along the lines of "the suggestions contained within are not necessarily accurate, and we cannot be held liable for any damage that may be caused by following them", akin to how companies absolve themselves of responsibility by recommending against putting cats in the microwave.

And that kind of mentality, as Nem hinted at, could be more dangerous in the long run.




Asheekay

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#16 6 years ago

Nemmerle;5678369I don't know that it's particularly subtle. People who don't perform honestly will have inexplicably worse outcomes than similar individuals operating with similar information who do.

They'll have done some prediction work before so you'll be able to have some idea of their mental toolset. And you can see whether other people in a similar position think that, based on the data they had at the time, their conclusion was reasonable. And that should give you a pretty good idea of whether they were honest or not.

Yes, I agree to this approach. The honest will commit a blunder once in a while whereas the dishonest's work will rarely give fruitful results. So its the frequency of the output that would help us evaluate the nature of a person.

Or did you mean something else?




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