Saturday, October 31, 2009
"Thus not only our reason fails us in the discovery of the ultimate connexion of causes and effects, but even after experience has inform'd us of their constant conjunction, 'tis impossible for us to satisfy ourselves by our reason, why we shou'd extend that experience beyond those particular instances, which have fallen under our observation. We suppose, but are never able to prove, that there must be a resemblance betwixt those objects, of which we have had experience, and those which lie beyond the reach of our discovery."
We live in a time and culture in which the people involved in the brain tumor cluster in McCullum Lake may never know the absolute truth regarding this issue. I say this because the techniques and purposes of law and science differ dramatically. Both seek to find the truth, but each applies a different meaning of "truth".
According to L.O. Gostin, Public Health Law...Power..Duty..Restraint, "While law seeks finality and closure, scientific inquiry is continuous; while law in civil litigation makes decisions by the preponderance of evidence (greater than 50 percent), science uses statistical significance (greater than 95 percent, with a confidence limit that does not include 1.0); while law follows an adversarial method, science embraces the experimental design (the "scientific" method); while legal evidence is testimonial, scientific evidence is empirical. These different understandings do not mean that one field discovers truth and the other less than truth. Rather, the two fields have different missions and each operates, at least partly, in the other's environment. Science and law, therefore, must seek to understand the other, and each must accommodate the methods and cognitive processes of the other."
Conflicts and differences of opinion can occur between law and science in several areas; one area is that of the issue of causality - did an event or exposure to a substance produce or cause a certain harm to an individual or group of individuals. The plaintiff attorney tries to assign responsibility for the alleged harm to the defendant; that is his/her mission. The attorney for the plaintiff claim that a certain substance or substances caused a detrimental health condition to the plaintiffs. Sometimes this allegation takes place years or even decades after the alleged exposure to the alleged agent.
Problems arise in trying to prove scientifically that the alleged exposure to the alleged agent was directly and causally related to the detrimental health condition. Why? ...because of the number of individuals involved, the time span between the alleged event and the detrimental health condition and the many variables that might have or could have affected each of the plaintiffs over the many years since the alleged event and the detrimental health condition.
According to L. O. Gostin, Public Health Law...Power.Duty.Restraint, the "plaintiffs in exposure litigation must establish two types of causation: general and specific. General causation assesses whether the substance is capable of causing the harm found in increased levels in the population. Specific causation assesses whether exposure to the substance in fact caused caused the plaintiffs' harm." It can rarely be proven that the harm in the population or individual was directly caused by a specific event or substance which that population may or may not have been exposed to many years ago.
The epigraph by David Hume states that positive correlations never establish causation; however epidemiologists use statistical significance to establish positive correlations between two events, the exposure and the harm done, to support causality. But to do this by using the scientific method the causality is assumed only if there exists more than a 95 percent chance that the exposure results in harm.
This is the conundrum that exists in proving causation by using the law and using the scientific method.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- Independence - The civilian review body must be independent of the Sheriff's Police Department.
- Investigative Power - The civilian review body must have the authority and resources to independently investigate complaints.
- Mandatory Police Participation (aka Subpoena Power) - The civilian review body must be able to compel the participation of officers in their investigations and hearings.
- Role in the Discipline System - A civilian review body must have a role in the discipline of officers where complaints are upheld. That role may be advisory to the Police Department, or civilian review may have a disciplinary role in certain defined cases.
- Statistical Analysis and Reporting - The civilian review body should issue a report at least annually on statistics involving police complaints and other aspects of policing, and analyze the data to identify trends and to identify practices or even individual officers that may require remedial action to improve policing and prevent future incidents.
- Policy Recommendations - The civilian review body should be both retrospective, investigating individual complaints, but also prospective, proactively looking at ways to improve policing. Policy recommendations in civilian review bodies are often the result of investigating individual complaints, which may identify a need for new or better police practices, policies, or training.
- Hearing Component (Formal or Informal) - The civilian review body must have the ability to conduct hearings on individual complaints and on matters of policy.
- Adequate Funding - Funding must be adequate to effectively support the investigative, analysis and reporting, and policy roles of civilian review.
- Reflects Community Diversity - Both the staff and the civilian review body should reflect community diversity.
- Accessibility - The public must be able to easily and directly access the civilian review body, whether physically, by phone, e-mail or fax. The physical location of the civilian review body office is an important consideration, and should reflect both the public accessibility of the body, and its independence from the police department.
- Qualifications and Training - The civilian review staff must be appropriately qualified and trained, and time and funding dedicated to continuing education and peer-to-peer learning. The members of the civilian review body will probably need to meet certain qualifications, and should be given initial orientation and training, with opportunities for ongoing education and peer-to-peer learning.
The above was taken from a discussion by Director Tom Radulovich,BART Police Department Review Committee Meeting of April 29, 2009.
The democrats in congress and the President believe that a federal role in health care will make health care more affordable. The opposite has occurred. Here are a few facts:
- Prior to the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, health care inflation ran slightly faster than overall inflation.
- In the years since, medical inflation has climbed 2.3 times faster than cost increases elsewhere in the economy.
- Much of this reflects advances in technology and expensive treatments, but the contrast does contradict the claim of government as a benign cost saver.
Let's now examine the record of Congressional forecasters in predicting costs. We will start with Medicaid, the joint federal-state program for the poor:
- The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that its first year costs would be $238 million. It hit more than $1 billion and costs have kept climbing since then.
- Thanks in part to expansions promoted by California's Henry Waxman, a principal author of the current House bill, Medicaid now costs 37 times more than when it was launched -- after adjusting for inflation.
- Currently the cost is $251 billion, up 24.7 percent or $50 billion in fiscal 2009 alone, and that's before the health care bill covers millions of new beneficiaries.
Medicare has a similar record:
- In 1965, Congressional budgeters said it would cost $12 billion in 1990.
- Its actual cost that year was $90 billion.
- The hospitalization program alone was supposed to cost $9 billion but wound up costing $67 billion. These aren't small forecasting errors--the rate of increase in Medicare spending has outpaced overall inflation in nearly every year (up 9.8 percent in 2009), so a program that began at $4 billion now costs $428 billion.
The lesson to be learned is that nearly all federal benefit programs grow relentlessly once they are started. This history won't stop Democrats bent on ramming their entitlement into law. But every Member who votes for it is guaranteeing larger deficits and higher taxes far into the future.
Source: Editorial, "Health Costs and History;Government programs always exceed their spending estimates," Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2009.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I do not understand the man, President Obama and I do not understand why he is not taking his first and foremost responsibility more seriously; to protect the security of the United States of America and its' citizens more seriously. Can anyone give me a good and reasonable answer to this question? Weakness is never rewarded by peace in this real world we live in....history has told us so over the millenniums.