Re: Ben Bernanke, fearless leader
- John Williams wrote:
> Can some complex systems be analyzed by comparison to a more simpleDo you mean predictions in the historical sense?
> system? Sure, there are plenty of examples, although most of them are
> in the physical sciences rather than the social sciences. Asimov's
> psychohistory made a great story, but it does not work in practice.
> There are precious little useful predictions coming out of economics.
Kidding, just kidding...
> There is one other point that clearly falsifies the "first do noI think both yours and Nick's post are two takes on a liberal
> harm" taken as an absolute rule for medicine. Take, for example, the
> fact that there are always unknown factors and low probability events
> in medicine. For example, even with the most common surgeries, there
> is a chance the patient will die in surgery. Thus, if we first do no
> harm, we never do surgery.
>I think "First, do no harm" is intended to be like something like the
>law of the Iroquois Confederacy: "In our every deliberation, we must
>consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." It
>acknowledges that there will be times when it is unclear whether the
>decision to act now or to delay in performing a procedure on a patient
>is going to "do harm".
interpretation of that provisions; which does make sense in medical ethics.
When I wrote the post, I was arguing against a "fundamentalist" use of that
text, if you will. I know when Teri did her chaplan internship at M.D.
Anderson, there were a lot of questions concerning medical ethics and there
would be medical ethesists involved in working with the rest of the staff
and the families on these decisions.
So, I was arguing against a literalistic interpretation of the phrase
itself, not the tough decisions you and Nick talked about. But, I would
also argue that the "first do no harm" idea has morphed in society into a
call for inaction until one proves no harm from something new in a number
of areas. As Richard mentioned on the Culture list, there are inherently
safer, cheaper forms of nuclear power that are rendered ecconomically
unfeasible by the cost of satisfying safely test requirements of new
designs, even when it is clear that newer designs are safer than what we
are doing now. Or, the inability of NASA to adopt in a timely fashion
more reliable technology because of the money and years it takes to pass
official NASA reliablilty tests.
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