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Empirical Evidence

A Morality Tale

By Bruce Barbour - August 2020

Fred owns and occupies a three storey commercial building. Fred's company's going really well and he needs some more space. So Fred decides to build a shed on the roof of the building where he can store the excess office furniture and files. This all goes well. More space for a bit of expansion. The company continues to grow and Fred decides that he wants to add another storey to the building to make more office space, taking it from three storeys to four. So he rings up his builder mate and arranges for him to have his drafters draw up the plans and commence building. Then another mate, Bruce, comes along and says - "Umm I think that it is highly likely that your building cannot have an additional storey put on it. The extra load might make the whole building fall down."

Fred says "That's rubbish. We built that shed on top and there was no problems. Those few small cracks that happened are something that occurs naturally as the building gets older. All buildings crack. Been happening since the dawn of time. Nothing to do with the additional weight of the shed. It is such a small shed."

So Bruce, being a really good mate, goes to a technical expert in the field of buildings, a structural engineer, and pays - with his own money - for the expert to analyse the proposal to add an extra floor. The engineer comes back and says the building will in all likelihood fall down if the additional storey is put on the top.

Bruce takes this expert advice to Fred. Fred, in typical fashion says "That is rubbish. The buildings not going to fall down. We built the shed on top and it didn't fall down so the extra story should also be fine. I feel it in my guts that it will be fine. Your so called expert is not an expert - he and his engineer mates have their snouts in the trough of Government handouts. I spoke to this bloke I met down at the pub. He said the additional storey would be fine. And that any advice to the contrary was just a conspiracy by the left wing cabal who wants One World Government and to control every thing that I do. It's part of the socialist conspiracy to prevent my company from growing, to prevent me from succeeding. I am an individual. I can do what I want."

Bruce says "But I have this advice from a well qualified and experienced technical expert who has been working in this field for years. He has done the structural modelling, using computers and complex structural design software, and has concluded that the building will fall down with the additional storey."

Fred is still not convinced "That is just a model put together by the One World Government cabal. Give me the EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that the building will fall down if I put the additional storey on."

They argued for a while longer but Bruce eventually gives up and Fred builds his additional storey. And, of course, the building falls down. But at least Fred had his empirical evidence.

* * * * *
(Unfortunately the tale is not without precedence - in both climate change denial and building collapse.
There have been tragic cases of collapsed buildings due to additional storeys being added without design and regulatory approval in less developed countries.)

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