[r-t] Minor Blocks: Poll results

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Fri Jul 18 17:35:26 UTC 2014

On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 12:58 PM, Graham John
<graham at changeringing.co.uk> wrote:
> I would be interested to hear from any who haven't commented yet, but voted
> "no", as to their reasoning.

I am far, far from "haven't commented yet," but I'll speak up (again)

Whenever the systemtizers and analyzers and record keepers want to
tell a band "no, no, no, you didn't ring what you thought you did, you
really rang ...." I believe we need to tread carefully.

We've finally, sort of, climbed out from the hole that we created for
methods with fewer working bells than hunt bells, and methods (even if
we're not yet allowed to call them that) that are false in their plain
courses. I'd hate to see us digging a new hole here.

The only reason I think I've been seeing espoused in this case for why
we have to tell bands that they didn't ring what they think they rang
is "because then you can have two different bands ringing the same
thing, and each giving it a different name." Yes, it's nice to avoid
that as much as practical, and we do a pretty good job of it already.
But to believe that this "shortest possible" rule is going to
guarantee we never will is deluding ourselves.

Consider the following scenario. Imagine neither Single Court Minor
nor Original had yet been rung and named. Imagine further a nice
little extent (probably possible, though I don't know for sure) of
variable hunt Single Court that has at least two different bells in
the hunt, and has them each doing interesting things when not in the

Our intrepid band at Little Snitchet rings a well struck peal of
minor, including this extent of as yet unnamed Single Court, and
chooses to call it "Little Snitchet Court Minor." Its friends at Great
Bludgerington ring an equally fine peal of minor, that includes an
extent of the as yet unnamed principle we know as Original, and uses
the calling that produces exactly the same rows in exactly the same
order as that extent of Little Snitchet. Assuming none of the band,
not even the conductor, is aware of how this extent was constructed,
they will certainly feel like they've rung a principle with an
horrific numbers of calls coming fast and furious. Unless they are of
a particular bent of mind, it will likely never occur to them they've
actually rung an extent of a plain minor method. And no one is
disputing their right to name their new principle Great Bludgerington

Both bands have rung exactly the same rows in exactly the same order, and
yet no one is arguing they aren't entitled to apply two different
names to the underlying method(s) they have rung.

Saying, oh, but those are touches, they are different than methods,
completely different rules must apply, really doesn't change the
underlying issue. Why are competing bands ringing a bizarre, twin
hunt, differential method and a bizarre-in-a-different-way plain
method, and naming them differently, perpetrating any worse crime on
the ringing community than the Quidditchers are with their latest
efforts? In either case, those looking at the records a hundred years
hence are going to have exactly the same difficulty, or not,
disambiguating what was rung.

I think the band ringing something has a considerably stronger claim
for saying what it is they're rung than does any philosopher of what
ringing "really" is.

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"If a philosopher advances a philosophical argument to show that
we do not in fact ever see trees and books and human bodies,
despite the fact that in a variety of familiar situations we
would ordinarily say that we do, then our philosopher is almost
certainly wrong."     -- Paul Grice, _Studies in the Way of Words_

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