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Mengele on SI? Robert Sheridan bobsheridan No need to be flummoxed, Art. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, is all that's about.

I was drawing on some personal experiences and frustrations, drawn from work I've done trying to unravel legal/medical mistakes. Make that legal mistakes with medical causes.

It started with medical people saying kids had been molested who hadn't. Legal people believed them; after all they were doctors who should know, but didn't. Ignorant legal people unwilling to think or investigate placed faith in medical people with the same unwillingness.

People like me have had to sweat to straighten out the mess while the clients faced, or were, in prison. McMartin, Little Rascals, and a host of others are cases in point.

Then there were the repressed memory cases, where medical people who had little clue as to how memory worked, swore it worked one way when it didn't. Thus, while most people remember terrible things that happened to them while young, the mind made an exception in supposedly remembered child-sex allegations. Result: a lot of innocent parents sued by disturbed, for other reasons, adult-children. I handled cases of that too.

Again, the law was subcontracting out validation issues to medical people who abandoned reason under the guise of political correctness: we're child advocates, so anything that appears to support the welfare of children, regardless it may condemn innocent parents, is fine, is how they acted. It took years of harm before this wave passed.

Other medical and legal people did yeoman work to perform the research to shed the necessary light on this sort of things. Turns out children are suggestible, and when they grunt or nod in seeming agreement, the adults who did the suggesting in the first place were all too ready to believe their suspicions had been validated by the kid. The kids didn't fool the adults, the adults had fooled themselves.

In the latest go-round, our top public doctor blew a blood test that resulted in an indictment that kept eight people in custody for various long lengths of time, up to over two years, before acknowledging his result was indistinguishable from zero, which led to their release.

Again, misguided legal people relying on misguided medical people.

The common denominator isn't the medical, or legal, characterizations, but the people characterization. It takes effort and guts to want to think clearly when the result you might achieve is something else you don't want to see happen, like your pet theory, or the indictment you are responsible for bringing has to be dismissed.

So when I see an opportunity, even if it's remote and seemingly not entirely relevant to the original post, to point such things out, I go for it. You're right to be flummoxed by something seemingly out of the blue. Not your fault, of course, you didn't invite it. It's my way of getting a few things off my chest, and a message out, because some things need to be said and the legal people don't always welcome such messages.

The medical people are somewhat more receptive because they believe in comparing results, while we don't. One miscarriage of justice never results in a comparative analysis to prevent a recurrence. It's just someone's bad luck, like getting stopped for speeding when you weren't. Well, maybe you were some other time, so what's the diff? Sometimes it makes a diff.

So, Art, don't take it personally that I used your message as the sounding-off board. The idea that epidemiologists did all sorts of studies to examine what was going wrong intrigued me. I've been wondering whether that approach wouldn't work if applied to criminal law.

You might enjoy Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel." He gives a very long term analysis of human historical development in terms of germ theory, epidemics, etc., as well as other explanations, all seemingly quite scientifically based.

So please forgive the unintentional flummoxing; it isn't meant personally. It's just me taking a ride on your coat-tails. Maybe next time I'll just do an independent posting. On the other hand, around here, one thought inspires another, so you never know what you're going to turn up.

If criminal law had criminal ethicists, I wonder what that would look like in practice.


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