[r-t] A simpler approach?
pje24 at cantab.net
Mon Oct 27 09:21:41 UTC 2014
"...would a simpler approach be:
1. Have a set of simple and clear rules that cover the 99% of what is rung.
2. Have a special cases list for the methods that are worthy of ringing but
fall outside the rules. As well as the usual method stuff, the list could
include a reason why it is included in the special cases.
3. The Methods Committee be custodians of the rules and special cases
list...I realise there would still be room for debate about what goes on the
special cases list, but the discussion would be limited to the merits of the
special case...is this a sensible idea?"
Without wishing to be ruder than normal, I think this is a real stinker.
If you take the approach that the purpose of any decisions should be to
record what is rung, it's a huge concern and intractable barrier to have the
whole system based on a "value judgement" made by the custodians of the
decisions on whether something is "worthy of ringing". This is the principle
problem we have at the moment.
Look again at your point (1) - "Have a set of simple and clear rules that
cover the 99% of what is rung" - don't you see that this means there will be
continually problems and conflict in the future when people play around with
new arrangements of changes that fall outside the current decisions? Your
approach is not future-proofed at all...quite the contrary, it sets up
battles every time something new is rung. The change ringing community has
more important battles to fight than artificially creating conflict year on
year because of value-judgements being hard-wired into the decisions.
Let's use an analogy - the system in biology of classifying species. Now
imagine that in the 1750s when Carl Linnaeus came up with his taxonomy, or
at any point since then, or even today, the whole system was essentially
frozen so that new species couldn't be classified. You could make an
argument for this - clearly if "99%" of the life-forms you currently observe
on the planet are covered by the existing system it superficially looks like
it does a reasonable job. But it's a rotten rotten approach to taxonomy.
Suppose a very rare new animal was discovered next year that didn't conform
to any existing species or even genus. Biology would be a laughing stock if
either a committee of fuddy-duddies made a decision on whether it was worthy
of classification, or if they decided it had a passing resemblance to a
frog, even though it had wings, so it would be botched into the frog family.
Or perhaps it could be called a non-frog frog.
Can you see the parallels with ringing, both with the current system and
what you propose?
It's not an abstract point. On the current Methods Committee, you have
people who arguing (and to give some credit to Robin Woolley, at least he
has the honesty to do it publicly on this list rather than hiding away) that
some of the exciting new things that have been rung in recent years are "not
worthy" of classifying, feeling that as there have not been huge numbers of
peals rung of them they can happily drop outside the official naming system.
I've been banging this drum for a long time. The good news is that at this
year's CC meeting, there was a motion put from the floor that there needed
to be a high-priority "fundamental review" of the existing decisions to
ensure they were not prescriptive and containing value-judgements, mandating
the Methods Committee report to the Administrative Committee at its next
regular meeting (you can see the minutes on page 14 of the document at
Unsurprisingly, Tony Smith (Chair of the Method Committee for most of the
past 30 years) argued strongly against this, prer-empting any action even by
stating "the proposal would...result in very little change". However, the
proposal was carried. I've heard nothing since then - without doubt the
dinosaurs and vested interests will try to quietly put this into the long
grass. Please can someone on the Methods or Admin Committee (both
represented on this list) give an update as to the progress that has been
made since the CC meeting?
More information about the ringing-theory