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Human life; dead dinos; the value of knowledge



On the subject of Chinese criminals being executed for stealing state fossils, and the feeling that all the lists and stolen fossils in the world are not worth a single human life, it is worth remembering that calculations of the financial value of a life are, and have to be, made regularly.  They're just not reported very often since it's difficult for a public figure to do so and sound good.  I for example, may be worth up to about £100,000 to my National Health Service; certainly not much more, and rightly so.
 
Any time public money, or any money, is spent, a decision has been made not to spend it on something else.  Of course, a life in the third world could easily be saved for £1000 - so next time you go to see, say, $18,000,000 worth of fossil dinosaur, you will be entitled to ask yourself "Is it just the Chinese, or have WE made a decision to sacrifice the equivalent of a small town for this?"
 
Why do we study dinos instead of saving lives?  Because we place a high value on our knowledge of them.  The points of delivery of this knowledge are through museums, TV programs, and publications - particularly scientific papers.  That is one good reason why trusted world experts, when asked to summarise the total knowledge of a particular topic, have a duty to expose all the philosophically tenable views well supported by knowedgeable groups, and not just their own theory and a token alternative.
 
 
JJ
 
"Now who's being naive, Kay?"