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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000145.txt from 1994/05

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re Fobes comments on intuition and creativity
Date: Fri, 6 May 1994 11:59:07 -0400

In every technical community, artisans, craftsmen, and technical experts
often hold the belief that what they do is part science and part black
magic, and that the black magic part of their work is not really explainable
but purely intuitive. It is the presence of that intuition that distinguishes
between the real expert and the common technician.

Clark Fobes has suggested that this same phenomenon is required in, for
example, mouthpiece making.

Just an opinion, but it has been my experience that this kind of talk
demonstrates a lack of knowledge more than the presence of intuition and is
used as an excuse for things that are unable to be described, either because
insufficient theory exists to describe it, or it cannot be so described by
theory, so intuition and often fanciful suggestions are offered to explain it.

When I was in business I used to see this all the time. Once we were
developing a printer that required a special kind of paper in its use.
And all I ever heard from the engineers was that paper moving equipment is more
of a black art than a science. But our competitors did not find that to be the
case. Their printers whizzed paper through so fast, that it scared me. And
our engineers were dabbling in black magic and not getting products developed.
In fact, it was just an excuse for not being able to do the paper path design
that resulted in their conclusions about black art, not the other way around.

Often, though not necessarily in Clark's case, intuition is used as an excuse
for the tail to wag the dog.

I like and trust Clark a great deal. I would not permit him to touch my
instruments were this not the case. But on this subject of intuition about how
things work, we are, unfortunately anti-polar and his most recent statement so
crystalized my thoughts on the matter that I wanted to state them to help shed
some light on our extreme differences with respect to the "blow-out"

The source of the disagreement derives from his belief that he hears and judges
this matter with considerable intuition derived from a great deal of
experience. While, on the other hand, I ask him for hard, scientific evidence
which he, like most people, cannot supply. And being unable to do so, they
become frustrated and, on occasion, short tempered in the face of such

It is not an entirely correct analogy, but the following will do. The great
Greek physician, Galen, had come to the conclusion that the human hip bone was
flared like that of an ox. This is because he had done a dissection on an ox,
found that it was flared, and presumed that the human hip was equivalent.
Perhaps it was a pig instead of an ox, I am not sure and it does not matter.
At that time, of course, it was not permissable to dissect a human since their
bodies were considered sacred and inviolate.

For almost 1,000 years the belief was held that the human hip was so shaped and
this bit of fanciful knowledge introduced by Galen became absolute truth.
Several people were burned at the stake for suggesting otherwise during the
middle ages. All medical care applying to the hip bone was derived from the
accepted understanding of its shape. So hip-bone-flare fever was an accepted
diagnosis in medieval Europe.

ThenVesalius did a dissection on a human and found the contrary to be the case.
He published his findings and offered them as a counter position to Galen's
argument now that he had the facts.

He got a very interesting response from the church, which had supported Galen's
view and forbad human dissection to establish anything different. Vesalius was
not personally attacked for his conclusion but it was said, that both men were
correct. During Galen's time, men's hip bones were flared like that of an ox
or a pig, but that the hip bone had changed shape recently due to men wearing
tight trousers.

A commonly held belief, a universally held belief, an intuitively held belief
without scientific evidence in support of its validity is not a way to run a

When convincing evidence is put forward that blow-out exists to the extent that
is being described on this board, I shall be the first to denounce my error,
admit that I was contumacious, and give my basset horns to the first passing
klemer I can find. Until that time, let's have a little more objectivity here
and a lot less uncritical acceptance of what is thought to be true but not so

Anyone for pizza?

Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California

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