Re: Payne-Miller dialogue regarding facts/interpretation

From: Bill Payne (
Date: Mon Jun 18 2001 - 23:29:34 EDT

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    On Mon, 18 Jun 2001 10:40:26 EDT writes:

    > Really now? I don't think it is far out of line to think that frauds
    > be found in any form of enterprise. There wouldn't be litigation were
    > not for that fact that there *is* fraud. I for one care about whether
    > reports are true or false. I may have it wrong, but I certainly have
    > tried to bamboozle my peers, sell a big sham, or otherwise fall far
    > of my calling as a seeker of truth in the academic world. Moreover, in
    > much as I can, I try to find out if what I have read is true.
    > I don't much care if you don't want to agree with what academia, or
    > else for that matter. You can reject the whole world if you want.
    That is your
    > option. However, don't insinuate that academics are a bunch of liars.

    My apologies, Wayne. I did not mean to insinuate that you or anyone else
    are liars. What I did mean, and what I did say, is that when one of our
    projects is subjected to litigation, the objective of the litigation is
    not to arrive at what is fair or true, but to win a judgement against the
    company for which I work. The means to our bank account is by supoena of
    our records, depositions of our project participants, and adversarial
    cross examination by lawyers who would like nothing better than to make
    us look like blithering idiots.

    Interestingly, our company has traditionally chosen litigation over
    arbitration or mediation because our attorneys feel that we have better
    control of the process through the courts. Arbitration tends to "split
    the baby," and neither arbitrators nor mediators (who attempt to
    facilitate communication between the parties) are bound by the law. Yet
    arbitration can yield binding judgements with no right to appeal.

    > If we are
    > mislead, you must demonstrate where we are mislead. Otherwise, just
    say you
    > don't want to agree and get on with life.

    I am in the process of doing just that, i.e., showing that the swamp
    model for the origin of coal is based upon an incorrect interpretation of
    data. To "prove something beyond a reasonable doubt" is a slow and
    meticilous process, and Jonathan is doing a good job of checking my every

    Back to the main point of this post: If a bridge were engineered with
    the same lack of correspondence to reality that the swamp model of coal
    has to the observable data, and if the bridge fails, the lawyers
    representating the owners of the bridge, and those representating any
    injured personnel or owners of damaged property, would pour through the
    failed bridge's engineering design, the qualifications of the engineer
    who stamped (approved) the design drawings, the materials-testing data,
    the construction (were specified materials actually used or were
    substitutions made, were the plans followed or were there deviations,
    were all deviations approved by the engineer), the records of the project
    manager responsible for quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC), in
    short - the full spectrum of details associated with design/build.

    These lawyers are not dull people. They build a case against you by
    finding things that are not as they should be, and stand to make a lot of
    money if they are successful. The way we defend against such actions is
    equally fascinating.

    In summary, if the theory of the origin of coal fails to find empirical
    support, the theory is eventually modified and life goes on. If a bridge
    is built contrary to known laws of physics, the known strength of
    materials, and/or known design criteria, and the bridge fails, all hell
    breaks loose for those involved. Remember the flying bridges in the
    Kansas hotel, where 114 people fell to their death? During construction
    a modification to the original design was approved by an engineer and
    incorporated into the structure.

    An engineer made a mistake. He didn't lie, it was a mistake. We all
    make them. When a mistake is realized, it should be brought to the
    attention of those involved regardless of the consequences. To cover a
    mistake is unethical, and possibly criminal. The engineer responsible
    for the Kansas hotel bridge failure lost his license, but he didn't go to
    jail - he made an honest mistake.

    We should strive to be transparent before God and man. Rare indeed is
    the man who achieves this level of honesty. "When Jesus saw Nathanael
    approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is
    nothing false.' "

    I reiterate, the consequences for a mistake in the world of construction
    are potentially catastrophic for a business and a career; the
    consequences for a mistake or misinterpretation in the world of academia,
    especially historical science, are virtually non-existent.


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