Sentences to ponder

by on August 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm in Political Science | Permalink

Chilean officials have not yet informed the miners of the months they will need to endure before a rescue shaft can be drilled and a cage lowered to pull them to the surface.

The story is here.  At lunch today, one topic was how the Chilean miner experience, when it is over, might revise our understanding of social science.  A related question was to estimate the probability that there will be a killing before the time underground is over.  How much would that chance go up if one woman were in the group?  An equal number of women?

Is it unethical for us to "watch" them, talk about them, or speculate about them?  If doctors tell terminally ill patients the nature of their condition, why are the Chilean authorities waiting to tell the men how long they will have to wait for rescue?

How do they "stall them" when the miners ask when are they getting out?

Addendum: Apparently the miners were just told how long it is likely to be.

1 Wonks Anonymous August 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I don’t expect any killing. The perpetrator would certainly be caught. And that’s setting aside the (presumably low) base-rate probability of any of them killing if they had spent the same amount of time on the job in normal conditions.

2 Angela August 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm

According to the BBC: “The miners were told on Wednesday that it could take up to four months to rescue them. Mr Manalich said they reacted calmly to the news.”

3 Stephen Smith August 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I think that if anyone deserves heroin, it’s these people. A coupla ounces of the finest South American dope would go a long way to ensuring peace and harmony down there, and as long as you don’t give them access to any alcohol or benzodiazepines, the risk of overdose is minimal.

4 farmer August 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

@ wonks anon:
surely the “temporary insanity” defense was penned for people 2 miles underground without access to light or anyhting other than glucose tablets for 4 months. I doubt there is a jury in the world who would convict.
It will be interesting as there is an “other” in the form of a Bolivian miner there. Bolivia and Chile don’t have animosity, per se, but it will be interesting to see if he ends up being treated differently by the time this is all said and done.
May God take mercy on them all.

5 skeptical August 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm

‘It could be the group which has to “put somebody down.”‘

That would seem as probable as you or me killing someone; they’re not violent criminals, they’re miners. Yes, they are in a stressful situation, but not a hopeless one.

It’s a huge stretch to start predicting killings. If anything, social cohesion would probably sky rocket.

6 casey August 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm

looking at the bright side.. assuming they are getting paid for every minute down there and rules are the same….

That’s 40 hours at regular pay and 168 hours at time and a half… They are getting almost 10 times their normal salary…

7 dearieme August 27, 2010 at 7:31 pm

@bh: they’re miners; they’ll dig holes.

8 Six Ounces August 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm

It’s a state-owned mine. Information is need-to-know and rosy expectations only create the likelihood of disappointment. With low expectations, the government’s expedient success will seem heroic and its failure will be excused as inevitable.

Isn’t this modus operandi of centralized government obvious by now?

9 anonymous August 28, 2010 at 12:00 am

They are celebrities now, which should make it easier for them to accept being unable to leave (think of Big Brother contestants).

They also have a fair bit of room to move around (a long length of tunnel). They are not confined to a single small room.

The probability of a killing is very close to zero. Don’t be silly.

10 Andrew August 28, 2010 at 5:53 am

When I saw the headline I was going to put the over/under on when someone spilled the beans at 2 days. Apparently I was 1 long.

11 babar August 28, 2010 at 9:23 am

too bad saramago died. i would like to ask him how things would go in the mine.

12 Mort Dubois August 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Compare their amount of space per person, diet, ability to negotiate amongst each other and with the outside world, etc. with a slave on a slave ship in the Middle Passage. They should do fine. People have endured far, far worse and survived.

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14 cheap clothes September 26, 2010 at 5:16 am

are self selected, and have fused into a cohesive working unit. They are also culturally cohesive, with new members into such working conditions socialized to the culture, remember these people’s families all live and socialize together as well. So it seems very unlikely that a murder would break out amongst this type of group.

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