Sunday, November 19, 2017
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‘Give Us Barabbas!’  Evidence-denial is not Good Governance



Dr-Patrick-MartinImagine standing before a judge who says "The evidence does not link you to the crime, but in my heart I feel you are guilty.  Therefore, based on my feeling and my faith in the prosecutor, you are sentenced to prison for life" (adapted from

Evidence-denial is not fiction; it is real and has a notorious history.  When Jesus of Nazareth was put on trial for sedition, Governor/Judge Pontius Pilate had a dilemma.  There was no evidence to convict, but releasing him was neither safe nor politic.

Being a crafty politician, Pilate resorted to plan B - a poll of public opinion.   He gave a Jesus-hating mob the option to choose who to free.  "They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" (John 18:40), a foregone conclusion.

If Pilate was in political power today, he may have tweeted that freeing Barabbas was a campaign promise.  Pilate is an exemplar of "passing the buck".  For public figures of his ilk, the way to lead is to reject evidence, make critical decisions based on fear, favour, affection, ill-will and personal gain, then throw people under the bus.

True leaders know there is always a cost to do and a cost not to do.  In governing, they weigh the relative costs using evidence then allow public and parliamentary feedback of the analysis and conclusions.

Such forthrightness and inclusiveness is Good Governance and favourable to garnering voter satisfaction.  On the contrary, evidence-denial increases the likelihood of quixotic campaign promises, and policies and projects that waste tax-dollars.

Final decision-making can be aided by using performance improvement methodologies such as Rotary's 4-Way Test - Is it truth?  Is it fair to all concerned?  Will it build goodwill and better friendships?  Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

What if the test was applied before deciding to abandon the BHS or the Paris Climate Accord?  At a minimum, there would be no disruption of the pursuit of personal education and global development goals.

An evidence culture is indispensable to the advance of our fledgling democracy.  Such appears to be rapidly taking hold.  Judging from the spirited challenges to autocratic and oligarchic behaviours, Kittitians and Nevisians are stoutly questioning and rejecting pie-in-the-sky promises and double-talk.

Nevertheless, Pilate's evidence-denial legacy will not expire because some people are vulnerable to gift-of-gab.  Fakes exist in political, medical, legal and pastoral circles.

Mercifully, we have an independent justice system and free media where we can separate pro (authority) from con (fraud).

Give us evidence!


Patrick Martin MD

Pediatrician & Physician Executive

Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis


I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying - Nelson Mandela

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