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Gear does not an expert make

Earlier this week I made the statement: it's not about the gear. It's what you do with it, the choices you make, and the experience (yours and the one you're having) that matter.

I now offer myself up as a prime example that gear alone does not an expert make.

I own and have practiced using a beacon, probe, and shovel, all necessary gear for traveling through avalanche terrain in winter, something I've already repeatedly done. I have read several books and researched websites on avalanche safety (currently it's Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper). And I have plans for more winter travel—skiing, climbing, hiking—in potential avalanche terrain.

None of this makes me even close to an avalanche expert. However, it does make me an excellent candidate for an avalanche awareness course. So, I'm headed for one this weekend on Mount Washington.

I expect I'll learn how little I really know on this important subject. That alone could be worth the price of admission.


To repeat a comment a friend and colleague made in talking about the direction of a subfield of my profession, astrophysics (and which I have quoted several times on Trailspace) -

Owning a hammer and saw does not make you a carpenter. Owning a Formula One car does not make you a race driver. Owning a telescope does not make you an astronomer. Owning a computer does not make you a computer scientist. It is not the tools of the trade that make you an expert, or even a journeyman in the trade.

He went on to discuss the then new field of computer modeling. In the area of astrophysics, there were many models of astronomical phenomena that were being cranked out and published, many of which, even at the time, were recognizable as garbage (old computer science proverb - garbage in, garbage out). The same thing was occurring in parallel in meteorology at the time. Somehow, this makes me think of the current controversy in the computer modeling of the climate.

Bill S

I think we both know why weather cannot be modeled, and why the linear thinking "warmies" do not have a clue that weather can change without cause. All computers do is add and subtract and they do in the way the programmers think it should happen. Since programmers are linear thinkers, their models are always going to be wrong.

Jim S

sigh - when I asked my friend who is the chair of the science department of the local college, whether there is anything at all taught about non-linear subject matter at the school she said she would ask her staff that question. The answer was NO, they are lucky if the students even understand the old linear models. These are the scientists of tomorrow and unfortunately also of today. Chaos has a short life time, turbulence is too difficult to teach. They only think about real numbers.

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