Monday, April 28, 2008

Life and Death Decisions Based on Myths Masquerading as Science.

On February 17, 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham, strapped to a gurney, declared his innocence one last time from Texas' death chamber, for setting a fire that killed his three daughters.
"I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit," Willingham said angrily. "I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do."Since that time, scientific research debunked all the forensics of fire investigation that convicted Mr. Willingham to death. John Lentini, one among many private consultants specializing in fire investigation, along with Louisiana Fire Chief Kendall Ryland, examined the materials. They all strongly suggested that this fire was more than likely accidental.

Specifically Mr. Lentini proved 18 arson indicators, used for years to prove fires were set deliberately, were nothing more than folklore. "Pour patterns" or irregular charred areas, on the floor - because floors does not supposedly burn - assumed the perpetrator poured an accelerant (an ignitable liquid such as gasoline) to start the fire. Instead, they found floors do burn in what they term, "flashover". Flashover is the" transition phase from having a fire in the room, to a room on fire" according to Mr. Lentini”, when everything that can be on fire is, including the floor”.

"Crazed glass" Crazed glass" is another arson indicator used for years with no basis in truth. Crazed glass is webbing or tiny cracks inside the glass caused by what they thought was an indication of a fire that burned unusually hot or fast, thus must have been started by someone. However, this was also proved false by Mr. Lentini. The webbing is caused by the presence of water on the glass heating up beyond a certain temperature, that's all.

Yet, despite science that is prone to human error or human knowledge limited by the times we live, so many of us are content killing people based on evidence that is far from 100% correct as in arson cases.

How many times has the scientific world changed its mind over time? How many times have we believed one thing to be true only to find out that advances in technology provided the means to disprove what we internalized as conforming to reality or fact, thus what we depended on to make decisions?

It's true, without science we would literally be sitting in a dark cave vulnerable to the wrath of Mother Nature, however, science can only give us information about things we can figure out how to measure or quantify, and then we can innovate devices that offer protection, comfort, and in general, make life worth living. We have no way of knowing what we don't know, or what there is to be learned and because of that; we should never take a life based on science that is not 100% sure.

Capital punishment does not deter crime, does not save money, it does nothing to further evolve society, rather it's a barbarism that threatens the evolution of our civilization, possibly devolving our communities by rendering us mechanical as it strips us of our humanity.

Pope John Paul II raises moral reservations about the “unnecessary recourse to the death penalty” meaning the death penalty cannot be justified when alternative non-violent methods are adequate to defend human lives from threat and guarantee the public order and the public safety. These moral reservations assume the person is guilty as charged. How can we say we are more civilized than the people we put to death when the only thing they may be guilty of is lacking the money to hire adequate defense or being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Just as the oceans do not come equipped with lifeboats, lifeguards, etc, science does not come with ethics, morality, or safeguards for humanity and we must remember that science is only as good as the human beings who bring it to life; to that, extent science is human and we all know about the imperfections intrinsic to humanity.

As Cameron Todd Willingham can tell you…oh wait, he can’t tell you, he’s dead. Why? Humans chose to make a God-like decision based on "bad science" as John Lentini calls it.


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