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  • Not acting until you have a good idea of any adverse consequences

  • is called the precautionary principle.

  • This happens every day.

  • Products are tested before they go to market,

  • to prove that they're safe.

  • Because there's a chance that they're not.

  • But it's difficult to remove all concerns about the risks associated with every

  • single action. Let alone those based on the complex series of tests and observations

  • required by science.

  • And here we run into some confusion about how science works.

  • Some say global warming and evolution aren't facts,

  • they're just theories.

  • But there's no 'just' about it.

  • In science the word theory doesn't mean 'I reckon' it means a well tested rule, which

  • is based on logic, explains repeated observations, and has been used to make

  • accurate predictions.

  • This makes them incredibly useful

  • and difficult to ignore.

  • Newton's theory of gravitational attraction, is a theory.

  • It explains how objects with mass move the way they do.

  • It's a theory so useful that some three hundred years after it was first

  • published, it's still used to send objects from Earth

  • to the far reaches of the solar system. Observable or proven facts are only part

  • of science.

  • When we're faced with the risks, it's natural to want to wait until there's a hundred

  • percent certainty about it.

  • Unfortunately, that's impossible.

  • The best that can be achieved is that given all our current theories, repeated

  • testing, logic, and the facts, that we're reasonably confident something is safe.

  • And this is where the precautionary principle can be misused.

  • Waiting for more information is useful but waiting for that unattainable one

  • hundred percent certainty, prevents anybody from doing anything.

  • Consider mobile phones and fears that their radiation emissions may cause cancer.

  • If we choose to wait until mobile phones were proven to be one hundred percent safe,

  • or not,

  • we would have no mobile phone technology.

  • Cancer is not something to be taken lightly, and concerns should never be

  • dismissed.

  • But waiting for irrefutable data, which is logically impossible, is a bad way to

  • make decisions.

  • And by doing so, we may lose amazing opportunities or encounter new risks.

  • Asking about risks is sensible. But demanding one hundred percent safety,

  • stops technology from evolving.

Not acting until you have a good idea of any adverse consequences


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クリティカルシンキング 第6回:予防的な話 (Critical Thinking Part 6: A Precautionary Tale)

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    賽魯 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日