They are All Wrong

My wife grew up spending a half of every summer living in Algonquin Park.  My father-in-law was a bush pilot for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and was based there for all of August every year, living at the cottage at Smoke Lake.  While she was there, she had the opportunity to live with a whole lotta nature literally right at the door step, from chipmunks to moose to black bears.

She was taught that you had to be wary of bears, but other than when you got in between a mother and her cubs, bears were actually more afraid of us than vice versa.  A few years ago while camping with the kids, we were startled by 2 gunshots at around 11:30 PM.  It was a park ranger who had shot a "nuisance bear" that was wandering around the campsite rummaging through the kitchen tents and cookware of people who were too stupid to put away anything that would attract bears to their site.  This adolescent black bear wasn't the huge menacing grizzly that you typically see on television, but rather a relatively small 200 pound creature just trying to find some food and availing itself of the easy pickings left by ignorant campers.

This event sparked my wife to start doing something to prevent a similar occurrence in Algonquin.  She did some research about other parks in Canada and the U.S., and spoke directly with the park Superintendent.  He was actually quite cooperative, and the park management did implement some measures to at least warn people that they need to be more "bear-aware".

She also discovered the work of Minnesota-based biologist Dr. Lynn Rogers.  He has been working with bears since 1967, and you can find videos of Dr. Rogers where he simply walks up to the bears with whom he works and interacts with them as if it were nothing special.  A couple of months ago, while surfing Dr. Rogers' site, my wife discovered that the 20th International Conference on Bear Research and Management was going to be held here in Ottawa and that Dr. Rogers would be attending.  So, she signed up for a 1-day pass and attended.

Dr. Rogers is an advocate of actually providing food for bears that will supplement their natural diet, with the goal of helping to avoid having bears go searching for food around people.  His research has shown that bears will naturally eat foods that are nutritionally the best for them, and given the choice of easy pickings from humans and a supply of berries and nuts they will happily avoid humans and choose the latter.  His program provides supplies of food that aren't a good for the bears as their natural diet, but is good enough that a bear that hasn't had enough of their regular diet will choose the planted food over making contact with humans.

Needless to say, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom - I've grown up with the saying, "A fed bear is a dead bear." - and Dr. Rogers is in the minority with his approach.

At the conference my wife attended a panel discussion on Bear-Human Interaction that was moderated by Dr. David Garshelis of the University of Minnesota.  She said that Dr. Garshelis was quite obviously against Dr. Rogers' approach to the point of being outwardly hostile, as were other panel members.  When she said this my immediate response was,
He must be right, then.
From Bears to Testing Tools

Paul Carvalho wrote an interesting post entitled Quality Centre Must Die on his experiences this past week in vendor training for HP's Quality Centre product.  At the end of the post he describes a discussion with an automation expert about randomizing tests:
[The Test Automation expert] said that what I proposed was not a "best practice" and that everyone, the whole industry, was using the tools in the way that he described how they should be used. 
My response was to simply say "they are all wrong."
My immediate response upon reading Paul's post was,
Paul must be right, then.


Rick Scott said…
"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." :Jonathan Swift

Jason said…
For some reason that reminds me of Howard Aiken. "Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats."