Saturday, February 9, 2013

Knowledge and Responsibility

As hideous as the ongoing Lance Armstrong debacle has been, it has provided some interesting talking points in terms of TOK. His recent confession to drug use throughout his career has led to his fans retrospectively reassessing their knowledge of him and his achievements.

He was especially vehement when attacking those who questioned his reputation, and wrote two (fraudulent) autobiographies: It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (2000) and Every Second Counts (2003). Until he was forced into his confession he and his supporters denied that he was guilty of any wrongdoing, and now he is undergoing an agonising and embarrassing fall from the heights of fame and adulation.

As reported in the article below, Armstrong is now facing a class action lawsuit in the U.S., brought by disenchanted fans who bought his books. This poses questions about the extent to which those who disseminate false information are ethically, legally and financially responsible for it.

There are some parallels with the story of the scientists and government official in Italy who were found guilty of manslaughter in 2012 after failing to accurately predict an earthquake in the village of L'Aquila. However, they disseminated false information unknowingly, while Armstrong was all too aware that he was doing so knowingly.

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