Saturday, 30 November 2013

Law and science

It's not often I have anything worth writing in my own field of law as it's all been done already (besides the thesis proposal I never got to write) but with all this rule breaking over global warming people need to know the legal process of criminal trial, and why it is so vital never to convict an innocent person and how it is designed to best avoid it.

Obviously the worst possible result of a criminal case going wrong is convicting the wrong person, as well as the sentence they will have the criminal record, and in the worst case scenario death. So British (not Roman) law was designed to avoid this happening, by firstly allowing a full testimony from both sides, prosecution and defence, and trial by decision beyond reasonable doubt. That means (as in the Scottish verdict of 'not proven') including where the jury believe they did do it, but there is not enough evidence. It is not the end of the world to let any criminal off, and most are never convicted of the majority of their crimes anyway, so missing some after trial rather than before it barely adds to the figures. In fact new criminals tend to be put off by a trial, and not do it anyway (as deterrence is the major reason for trial as it makes society safer) so it worked regardless. Career criminals just do it again and usually get convicted sooner or later.

Of course below crimes there are many other black marks on our characters from the laws of society- failing exams, sacking for misconduct, defamatory statements etc, which all have civil proceedings to remedy. And the major rule they all use is only the defence can cheat. That is because if the prosecution uses clever tricks they all know you can easily convict many innocent people, but if the defence use them to confuse the jury all that happens is someone goes free who may or may not be guilty, but the crime has been done already so you can't undo it either way.

Science uses equally tough rules normally. Imagine a drug going to the market without full testing. Or stress tests not being carried out on bridges. People will suffer and die from science making assumptions, short cuts and the like commonly used in other less dangerous areas. Normally this is an accepted foundation of all scientific practice, yet in the late 80s, before anything had even happened, some nonentity convinced the US presidential committee of the time because of rising CO2 the earth would warm dangerously in about 2100. Within a few years most governments tried and convicted mankind and we have been punished ever since. Meanwhile as CO2 has risen 50% since 1850 the temperature has risen around 0.8C. The excuse used by the UN and all below them running their rules is the 'precautionary principle'. Insurance companies use this based on actuarial calculations from wonks who have spent seven years in college (and still get it horribly wrong), but those mistakes only lose money, often for themselves. Reducing fossil fuel and every single benefit that arises from it is like reducing oxygen because you believe it warms the planet, and forcing people to breathe less. Heating your home less is exactly the same, death just takes longer.

My point being science does not normally stray from its tight legal type path, as major decisions flow from it and can cause serious consequences if rushed. You would never produce any other findings over a century before the results could even be known, with the caveat it's better to save it possibly happening by a 'remedy' which hurts absolutely everyone, except those investing money in it. They still have to pay more for everything, as fossil fuel propels all the means of transport for their goods and their own holiday flights and petrol. Yes, they get a bundle in the short term, but with inflation racing ahead as a consequence, and cars set to be banned in all European cities maybe they'll want to get somewhere in the future and won't be able to due to their own rules. Not to mention geoengineering, which will dump metal sulphates on their families as well as ours but they still promote.

You would never punish or charge anyone for something with a slim likelihood you could never discover anyway, where the present losses were all known while the benefits never could be, as you can't prove a negative. If it doesn't get warmer in 2100 the policies worked, if it does they need to be doubled to stop it. That's a catch 22 situation and akin to paying the Mafia every month so your business isn't burnt down. A year later they tell you it was so successful they're doubling the premium as they did such a good job.

Don't be run by the Mafia, work it out first.

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