Re: [SystemSafety] The STOBCLO doctrine liberates expert witnesses

From: John Brannock < >
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 2015 06:43:58 +0000

Love the analogy Abdullah!

John Brannock

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On 11 Jul 2015, at 1:40 pm, Les Chambers <les_at_xxxxxx

Hi All
Look, I'm sorry to bother you lot with yet another post on the aphorism I previously quoted as: "Some things only become clear, later on." (STOBCLO) But, I have flash news: STOBCLO is gaining both intellectual and legal momentum. And, properly applied, may enhance the quality of posts on this list.

I've been advised that some of our number are forced to lurk on this list in read-only mode because of their expert witness work. Contrary positions, published over time, can be used by lawyers to discredit the expert witness. I can't help thinking that this constraint robs the systems engineering community of valuable insights. But wait, STOBCLO may provide relief.

This week I mentioned this problem to my cycling buddy John who is a highly respected town planner in my hometown. In this role John is often called as an expert witness in some horrendous cases. For example, where whole communities have been wiped out by flood events that, some plaintiffs are prepared to claim, could have been avoided by better planning.

John is currently somewhere north of 70 years old and has been publishing since his late twenties. His intellectual cat is well and truly out of the bag, on display for all to see, and a rich trail of evolving opinion for the lawyers to mine in support of some puny, reputation-destroying legal gotcha.

But not so, his professional reputation remains intact (systems engineering expert witnesses take note). He told me that, when caught out by a lawyer with nothing better to do than read his 40-year-old articles, he has successfully argued in court that he is entitled to change his mind on a position taken as a 20-something in light of later experience, and, frankly, the getting of wisdom with age. In short: "Some things only become clear, later on."

So there we have it. STOBCLO started out as a bit of a giggle, morphed into an aphorism, became a legal doctrine and is now encased in legal precedent. Wow!

Where to from here? You know you're onto something when you pull a sentiment out of the primordial muck, polish it up, and find, quite by accident, that it has application in two or more knowledge domains. A doctrine such as this, so seamless and sublime in its alignment of wisdom with real life, should survive on its own. But I'd like to lend it a hand. It's a bit long for an acronym library. I vote for a translation into the dead but immortal Latin and a laying down with the likes of the Hippocratic "Ars longa, vita brevis". Does anyone know any Latin scholars?


Les Chambers
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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Sat Jul 11 2015 - 10:08:36 CEST

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