Saturday, 15 February 2014

The recent days have been a useful reminder that our perception of our situation, depends very much on out point of view, and that sometimes it is a good exercise to get some perspective by looking at other people’s situations, and looking at things from their point of view (or at least trying).

For example, today I am a bit upset because the winds have been blowing all night, and have kept me awake half the night. However, in the morning, when I looked out of the window, I saw that my garden fences had not been blown away, like the ones of our neighbour (ours did get blown away twice in the last couple of years, but not this time).
So, putting things in perspective, I can’t complain too much. Then I was looking at the news, and there was a lot of coverage about all the floods, and that added a bit more perspective to my sleepless night, as my ground floor is not underwater, and my street is not flooded.
Then the article I was reading had a link to a commentary about climate change, and it mentioned that the recent storm in the Philippines killed a few thousand people, which again put all the flood disaster news into perspective.

Now I don’t really want to pontificate to people who have lost their homes, or their livelihoods, and say to them that they shouldn’t complain because there are other people who are worse off. What I want to say is that when I think it’s all going wrong, adding a bit of perspective can actually change my whole outlook.

Missing logic

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Interview on the radio about families in ethnic minorities in Britain, refusing to allow organs from dead relatives to be used for transplant, even when the dead person is on the donor register (i.e. gave at some point the consent for his or her organs to be used).

Interviewer: would you allow the organs from a relative to be used for a transplant to save someone else’s life?

Interviewee: No, a person should be buried whole.

Interviewer: Why?

Interviewee: To protect the sanctity of life.

Now I do not want to question somebody’s feelings when a loved one dies, nor religious beliefs they might hold (not here at least).

What I would question though is the logic of protecting the sanctity of life by not allowing somebody’s (a dead person, i.e. no life involved there) organs to be used for transplant potentially saving or much improving somebody else’s life. Maybe I do not understand the concept of “sanctity of life”, but I struggle to imagine how that applies to dead people.

Safety is our primary concern

Monday, 17 May 2010

I have heard this assertion a lot in recent years, and especially in recent weeks, regarding the problem of the airspace closure over Europe, because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.
This seems to be stressed even more, when Airlines claim that the restrictions are too tight. But you could argue that you shouldn’t believe airlines, as they are biased, and therefore not objective, while airspace agencies only worry about people’s safety.
However, probing at the details, I have become sceptical of the affirmation that safety is the primary concern here, and in many other cases where this is given as the reason for not providing a service.
I have become more and more convinced that the primary concern is not safety, but avoiding blame in case things go wrong.
Aviation authorities cite the “experts” as the source for their decisions. These experts seem to be a mix of scientists, aircraft engine engineers, etc. none of whom seems to have enough data or knowledge to determine what the risk actually is, and a response of the type “we don’t know” or “we do not have the data”, becomes “it is not safe”, going through the some sort of “we cannot take liability if something happens”.
So because nobody is taking the bother (i.e. spending the money) to get some proper assessment in place, everybody else has to live with the consequences of the drastic “safety” measure, which seems less concerned with actual safety, and more with covering somebody’s back.

What similar situations have you found where the same process “we don’t know” -> “we can’t take liability” -> “it’s not safe”, applies?