cultural myths and misery

John Schinnerer eco_living at
Mon Dec 10 02:52:41 EST 2001


--- Toby Hemenway <hemenway at> wrote:
> What I did see was administrators, reviewers, editors, marketers, and
> business executives trying to distort the scientists' work to fit
> their beliefs or economic desires, to the outrage of the scientists.

Thanks, Toby, for this inside scoop.  I recognize what you say to be
true; my reference to getting to know a candid statistician was from
personal experience, as I had a housemate who is a biostatistician at
the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center here in Seattle.  

As I think back on what she told me about the complications and
machinations of getting any "good" (scientifically speaking) research
done (and especially out to the public undistorted), I recall hearing
about all the "other" actors in the play (the non-scientists, or
scientists gone over to the "dark side" of admin, marketing, etc.),
lots of meetings, bloody meetings, non-scientists (industry VIPs, for
ex.) deciding what the sample group would be only to hear from the
techs and statisticians that their group would be useless (or
hopelessly biased) in research terms, and so on.

And until you mentioned your experiences, I missed the parallel in my
own - it's the same in the technology world.  The marketers,
salepeople, managers, etc. - everyone not hands-on savvy with the
actual base technologies - will try to sell the most outrageous stuff
that doesn't exist yet.  Project managers will tell clients what can be
done (and how quickly :-o) without actually understanding what can or
can't be done.  A guy I use to work with posted outside his office
scenarios from a certain comic strip that had actually happened to him
at work over time.'s true..."Dilbert" is not even a teeny
tiny bit made up.  It's very real.  Frighteningly so... ;-)

As for how this is all relevant to Permaculture - same things happen,
same potential exists.  As the parrots kept saying in Huxley's "Island"
- "pay attention, pay attention!"

John Schinnerer, MA
- Eco-Living -
Cultural & Ecological Designing
Food - Shelter - Community
john at

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