Turning Archive 2004

Human Nature to question thi? I think not. (Long)

Dinyar Chavda

At the outset, let me say that I plan to use your method, and appreciate your sharing it with us.

Until the thread on Human Nature, I thought that you had handled all questions as being just that--questions for information. Your answers were always pleasantly stated and informative. On the other hand, so were the questions---I have reread the questions in the prior thread (I missed the chat room on Monday), and I don't think that ANY of the people were accusing you of creating a "perpetual motion machine".

Somehow the questions that deal with trying to nderstand why your technique works has gotten translated into "why the person should believe what you say".

Two points about that. I cannot speak for any of the others, but, as one of the questioners, I am always interested in the WHYs of things, even (particularly?) things that I have no formal background in. I have usually found that most people do not object to such questions--in fact it is often seen as a mark of interest in what they do. I did not grow up working with wood, and so, I have to think about a lot of things that come naturally to others because of their past experience. (For example, when I read your initial posting of "Drying rough turned bowls quickly", I thought that you essentially put the bowl in a bag--that's what "wrapping" implies to me. It was only in a response you made to a later question that I realized that you meant to only cover the outide). I find that if I know why something works, I can apply it better. So, my questions re details of the process as well as the "chemistry" were questions for information. If Russ Fairfield is reading this, he will confirm that I keep asking him questions about something, not because I doubt what he says (quite the opposite), but because I have to process things, and each question that's answered leads to new one.

I seek knowledge wherever I can find it, and the less I know about a subject, the more I delight in learning about it.

Having said that, my second point is that there is probably an element of "why the person should believe what you say" in my questions. It is not personal, it does not question your abilities or your intentions, but it is a natural reaction that I have when I come across something new. It is what's called a scientific approach to new theories, i.e., develop hypotheses, test them, and then accept or reject them (technically speaking, the conclusion is more restrictive, but I won't get into that).

The "Human Nature" thread appears to denigrate such an approach. Why? It is the basis by which we determine the validity of a new approach in so many areas. If someone were to say that the earth is flat, and they and others have tested this for several years, would you take that at face value, or would you ask questions? If someone says that a process gives a better finish than any other, would you not ask questions about exactly what was done, and why the person thinks it works?

Certainly the fact that you took care in asking others to replicate your results overcomes one of the big questions in any new approach, but consider that many people whom I respect swear by the LDD method. On this forum, itself, there was a thread in the last year or so that espoused this approach with great enthusiasm, only to reject it a few months later.

This does not mean that you are saddled with the responsibility for the fact that LDD did not work for many people---it means, though, that you are going to have to face the skepticism that any new theory in any field faces. For example, one reason your approach works may be that it is a case of the Hawthorne Effect (i.e., people are paying more attention to the drying of their pieces and taking better care of them than they would otherwise).

None of the above is meant to imply in any way that I don't believe what you say. I have a choice in how to proceed. I can either attempt to use your process and see how it works for me, or ask a bunch of questions which you probably have answers to, and use that information to decide what to do, i.e., what precautions to take, etc.

The "Human Nature" thread (and I am not, necessarily, referring to your starting post) seems to imply that it is human nature to question new things, and attempt to knock them down, and that this is a bad thing. Why is such questioning considered to be bad, or an attempt to knock the other person down? Further, my observation is that most people are willing to trust anything that they encounter, and not willing to make the effort to question them. This leads to beliefs such as the one about the incumbent President losing if the Redskins lose in the game before the election, or that the water in a sink (or toilet) rotates one way as it drains in the northern hemisphere and the other way in the southern hemisphere due to the Coriolis Effect.

If I am one of those who offended you by asking questions, I apologize for that--that was not my intent. I believe that questions are how progress occurs, and that opinion has nothing to do with whether you are defending a commercial product, or a PhD thesis, or sharing something that you have found which you think is going to be useful to others. So, I will continue to ask questions.

And, again, I thank you for sharing your approach with us.


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