How Do I Know That You Know?

2007 was a particularly bloody year in the land of “oil and music,” and if the beginning of 2008 is any indicator, this year will be too, unless some serious changes are made.

What those changes are, I cannot say, as I am no “crime expert,” but what I do know is that the stalled parliamentary crime debate and official expressions of the intent to resume hangings, are not helping any.

Does representation without consultation ever work?

The failure of the new Government to engage the Opposition and for that matter, the wider local population, in the formulation of a national plan to tackle crime shows just how valued are the opinions of Trinbagonians. Our opinions mattered enough during election campaigning to warrant that millions of dollars be spent on advertising geared towards us, but now that our vote has been cast our opinions do not seem to matter in issues of life and death. What makes Jack and Jill Parliamentarian any more qualified to speak on this matter than Joe and Jane Public?

Does implementation without evaluation ever work?

When the majority of the international community is moving away from the death penalty, we seek to take a step in the opposite direction. Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International states that:

“A total of 133 UN member states, from all regions in the world, have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006, 91percent of them in just six countries: China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the USA. Those that chose this most cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment are increasingly in the minority.” 

Read the full article here.

Do we really want to join the ranks of those countries?

I am tired of our government officials making costly (financial and human) decisions without any factual basis. Where is the evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent to crime? With respect to other crime-fighting measures, where is the evidence that blimps, eyes in the sky, increased police outposts make a difference?

Without due consideration of the opinions of the population and without the use of the tools of evaluation, how do I know that you know?

Mango

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~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on January 19, 2008.

One Response to “How Do I Know That You Know?”

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head with

    “I am tired of our government officials making costly (financial and human) decisions without any factual basis.”

    Would you believe you can do postgraduate study on Criminology at the University of the West Indies, right here in Trinidad? Not just courses taught in an classroom with the exam to write and pass at the end. The real stuff. One would think that UWI would play a bigger role in getting us this much needed data, especially regarding the escalating crime rate. Criminologists in T&T should be overworked, one would think. Or maybe the information is there but the Government is not using the available research. I think it’s both.

    The Government is made up of people who do not see the value of promoting scientific research. Putting up a blimp, hiring police officers and hanging criminals ‘high’ are intended to gain votes. The most effective way of fooling “the masses” into thinking this government is doing something. Putting money toward scholarships, paying for research facilities so that a few years from now we can get that information is not going to get votes from “the masses.” Unlike you and me “the masses” don’t think about a few years from now. They are in the here and now and want someone else to solve their own problems. Typical “minimal self-exhaustion maximum self-gratification” mentality. Only a government who truly cares about this country would devote time and money into promoting research and incur the wrath of “the masses.” I see president Hon. George Maxwell Richards as a ray of light for T&T. As a scholar he should understand better than I do why we need to involve science in Government.

    I have plenty to say about UWI. I was excited at one point to see that they were conducting research seminars. At these seminars scholars from all over the world are invited to present their work. Having been to several of them, I can only wonder what was the true motivation behind these seminars. The amount of money spent behind food, drink and alcohol and the type of self promotion going on at these pappy shows have nothing to do with promoting research. Universities abroad do NOT hold elaborate seminars to celebrate every scientist’s work, and that has nothing to do with honouring a respected guest.

    When has the focus ever been on the research student struggling with the rent and increasing food prices, trying to hold down a job by day and research by night? Is there any wonder why ONLY the few people who have a dream or see the bigger picture are going on to do research? UWI is too preoccupied with their money making activities to put research on its priorities. Look at their website – It took me a few days trying to find a page where I could get information on postgraduate study. UTT still remains a training university for current industries – NOT a research facility.

    The University of the West Indies has failed us as a society. Sure, T&T future lies in our children’s school bags. We are educating more and more people but what is this quality of education when they still think like “the masses.” You and me though, we see further than they do. At least someone else recognises the need for the facts. As more and more people pass through tertiary education I am still hopeful that a few of them will discard this mentality and in time there would be enough of us to save T&T.

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