Re: [SystemSafety] Does "reliable" mean "safe" and or "secure" or neither?

From: Martyn Thomas < >
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2016 11:27:33 +0100

On 24/04/2016 10:48, Peter Bernard Ladkin wrote:
> First, a response to Michael (without quoting him). I accept that there is a dynamic with expressing
> views on this list which not everyone feels comfortable negotiating.

Different communities adopt different standards of conduct in scientific negotiations. In the 1980s I observed a meeting of IFIP WG2.1 that was discussing new formal languages ("abstracto") for solving a set of problems that Dijksra had proposed as test cases. A few presenters tried arm-waving rather than mathematics and were heckled with "where's the formality?" repeatedly. One was unable to finish his presentation (which was, in my opinion, a good thing as he was wasting everyone's time). This was robust scientific debate amongst a group of experts with international reputations. I was impressed with the progress that was made.

The following year I was on the steering committee for a workshop in California on the subject of process modelling. The SC agreed to adopt the WG2.1 style of meeting (because the process modelling community had a lot of arm-wavers and needed greater rigour). I was asked to explain this mode of working at the start of the workshop. It was not well received. Indeed, I received no invitations to further meetings of the process modelling community for several years. Robust disagreement was viewed as unacceptably offensive in that academic community at that time and place.

Different communities have different views on when robust disagreement becomes offensive. I would be sorry if we stopped having robust disagreements here because, often, I find the posts from people whose opinions differ from mine very illuminating once they have been provoked into explaining their reasons for those opinions. Please keep provoking.

And if you are reading this list but not contributing because you fear robust disagreement then please overcome your fears. We are all often wrong in our opinions and the quickest way to test the soundness of your views is to expose them to criticism by others. (I argued with Bev Littlewood, for years, but I have learnt the error of my ways). No one should feel humilated by being shown to be wrong. It's how we make progress, individually and as a profession, even if it feels painful for a moment or two.


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systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Received on Sun Apr 24 2016 - 12:36:04 CEST

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