Reply To: Bows and archery

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I think all of the points I’ve seen you raise are valid and worth considering. I consider myself of the school of thought that all inputs are potential datapoints, and as such, they need to be contended with in a scientific manner.

…When I look at Tod, I see an excellent craftsman as well as someone who is also a scientist/engineer. That doesn’t mean he’s right. I think it’s great you mentioned the NOVA special – Ric was my teacher for a week, and I contend that he is the most brilliant man I’ve ever met. Note that a degree does not make one a scientist. Ric earned his mastery through his art, which is something I would wager the vast majority of “real scientists” cannot lay claim to. Even still, that does not mean Ric will hold everything you, and perhaps I, hold as newfound truth as such. Ric was not at all sold on Peter Johnsson’s geometric theories. I respect his opinion, and I am absolutely certain that not all weapons were designed in that manner. However, I also contend that I think geometric design is truly an excellent tool, and I am fascinated by the concept of someone using geometry to perform complex calculations… without ever needing to resort to equations. If you recall the write-up on my swordsmithing class, you’ve probably read my assessment on the matter yourself.

So, I would look at it this way: Tod is acting as an empirical scientist in this matter (and there is no shame in that). It’s a rough experiment, but enough to start forming opinions from. He uses what he knows how to make, and hopefully, he will be consistent enough with his testing to establish at least some relation between what he does and makes to form some type of rational conclusion. And, that conclusion is going to be limited to the parameters he and his equipment can adhere to. Thus, his conclusions will not be the final ones – you speak of science – one of the biggest problems we have today is that the layman and even other scientists take someone’s conclusions as fact. THAT is not science, that is religion. I have no problems with religion, either, but one should never confuse it with science.

For a disclaimer on our ancestors, I have noted to you several times before that my opinion has become that people have not changed much, only our understanding of things have changed. I have learned a LOT from you, and I have heard you make mention of how people in the past were a lot different from us in many regards. I disagree. I feel their understanding of things were different, and because our understanding of things have changed, we instead do not understand them. But, craftsmen were still craftsmen, politicians were still politicians, farmers and scientists and killers the same. Whatever people were doing back then clearly was effective for its time, but because that understanding has either been lost or has otherwise changed, we write them off, which is obviously farcical. Do I think modern steel is better? Yes, yes I do. But, people used what they had and they made it work the best it could. If there is any living evidence of this left in the world, it’s probably with the Japanese swordsmiths and practitioners. Although I’m not part of or really into that culture, why would one bother to make swords like that today, when modern materials are so much better? I think the answer is simply that the case in question is one where the optimum solution for a problem was solved within the limits of a given technology, and it has created a mythos all of its own. This is in part because it worked back then, and it still works today – the difference is that the understanding was not lost.

So, to conclude, I am going to be happy sitting back and waiting for the next run of tests, waiting for what reasonable data can be gathered, and understanding that it won’t be perfect or absolute, for nothing really is. If it was, we’d still be in the past, because the future would have no reason to happen.