Of software and fish

Hal Goldfarb codewell at
Thu Dec 5 00:04:26 CST 2002

Whoa!  I think I may have been misunderstood.

> > there so far.  Every other area of engineering has testing, licensing and
> > regulation.  Architecture (AIA), Accounting (AICPA), Medicine (AMA), Law
> > (ABA), and so on, all have an examination and licensing process.   Some
> > fields even have continuing education and retesting requirements as well.
> Yet they still suffer from the presence of completely unqualified
> professionals that are fully licensed to practice.  If you have never
> experienced this then you lead a charmed life or I lead a cursed one (which
> is probably more likely!)

I agree that mere licensing will not be enough to raise the standards, but 
you forgot the key element:  Examinations and continuing ed. to retain the 

Requiring a license to practice would have about the same effect as requiring 
fisher(wo)men to have fishing licenses.  Any idiot with a fishing pole can 
catch a fish -- I did once when I was about 7, caught 2 catfish with the help 
of my grandfather and then I ate the fish.  Yum.  And I had no prior 
knowledge of fishing or fish or cooking fish.

But let's say all fishermen who wanted a license to fish had to pass a rigid 
education and licensing exam.  Perhaps they have to go to school to learn 
about the rate that schools and colonies of fish replicate, and which species 
at which rate, which species eat what other species, marshland ecosystems 
(extremely important for upstream food chain; rivers die when marshlands are 
spoiled, even with best intentions), and so forth.  Then let's say that after 
all of that, they have to sit for an exam for 4 days, answering all sorts of 
questions, everything from how to catch fish efficiently and humanely, how to 
store fish caught, what the laws are on overfishing, where it is OK to fish, 
and yada yada yada.  And so on and so on and so on.   I believe many 
fishermen would not make it through that minefield.

My understanding of the IEEE test, according to their promotional materials 
as well as their 50 question sample, makes me think that this is one HARD 
test to pass.  They describe it as a "challenging" experience.

Another thing.  I am not so sure that I myself could even pass such a 
rigorous exam.  But so be it, if only the very smartest and most intelligent 
could pass it, you would eliminate virtually all of the riff-raff.

Yes, my cousin is a civil engineer and he complains about ineptitude in the 
workplace as well.  But I am certain this is not the case for 95% of the 
industry.  The AMA (at last I heard) has about 7000 "bad doctors" on its 
list; but that is very small compared to the number of practicing doctors.  
And you cannot judge doctors only on their bedside manner and more than you 
can judge lawyers on their surliness ... or programmers for their 
"know-it-all-ness".   World class surgeons and world class defense lawyers 
are known to have poor attitudes.   But attitudes don't cause excellence.  
Knowledge, experience, fortitude, and certain god-given gifts (depending on 
the field) cause excellence.

This is Hal, signing off.

PS  BTW, I do not consider myself any sort of fisherman.  The last time I 
fished was  that time when I was 7.  And I do not advocate such stringent 
testing for fisherpeople.  It was just a strawman for you to poke at, instead 
of me!

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