Friday, November 6, 2009

Reality vs. Fantasy

to the right, Daniel Everett, the author of Don't Sleep .. or at least his head and its reflection. We cannot be sure if there is more to him than that.

I am in the process of reading a book called Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes. It's an account of how a Christian missionary goes to the Amazon to bring Jesus to an Indian tribe called the Piraha. The Piraha, it turns out, have the unusual trait of only taking their own experience and the first-hand experience of other living humans as evidence of what is real. This amazing trait has made them immune to 300 years of missionary attempts at conversion. In the end, it is the Piraha who convert Everett, the missionary to their view of seeing and not the other way around.
It isn't that the Piraha have a problem with Jesus, it's just that in their world view, they don't care about Jesus because they can't find anyone who has actually seen him or personally heard what he had to say. And it's not that the Piraha pick on Jesus in particular. They wouldn't care any more for the Buddha or Archimedes or Plato or Socrates or any other person long dead.
The Piraha are pragmatists in the extreme or if you will, Missourians of the Amazon. A brief side bar here about the "Show Me State:"

"There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri's sobriquet "Show-Me" state. The slogan is not official, but is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates.

The most widely known legend attributes the phrase to Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. While a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs, Vandiver attended an 1899 naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."

So what does this have to do with boat building?
In the construction of b0ats, people like to make all sorts of claims based on what they've heard or read or believe.
My response, "Show Me."
In the end, there is no substitute for actually building a boat and trying it out to see what it will do. And what better way is there to quickly build a boat to see what it will do than skin on frame.

Let's hear it for the Piraha and Missouri and skin on frame.

1 comment:

Bill Samson said...

I love that philosophy! My good friend and boat designer, Chuck Merrell of Seattle used to complain that boat forums were full of unsupported statements that he called "I think, therefore it is".