Belfry Bulletin

Search Our Site

Article Index


Letters to the editor.

Ref: Is Caving Hazardous to your Marriage?                5th January '83:

Dear Sir,

The article sent by Colin Priddle from R.S.A. (Rotten Statistical Articles?) is nonsense as it stands.   Perhaps there are chunks missing?

I'm sorry to see mathematics used in such a sloppy fashion.  It does not do us credit.  The analysis as presented is not logical.

Starting by assuming that the stated divorce rate of 2.4 means one couple in 2.4 are divorced in South Africa the author appears to ask the question 'is his group of 9 with 5 divorces amongst them typical of the population of South Africa or is it different?’ The 'rate' for the group as it stands is 1 in 9/5, or 1.8.

If another caver joined the group, they could be divorced or not.  If not, the rate is 1 in 10/5, or 2.0.

If divorced, the rate is 1 in 10/6, or 1.67

In other words, the group is so small that the addition of one more member would drastically alter the conclusions.  Beware of using statistics on small numbers.

We are invited to participate in some research because it is "important".  I can see that sampling a larger population would give more meaningful results if processed properly but why is it important?  What is important is that we should not be so egotistical that we neglect the marriages we've got.  Let's get priorities right.  It is easier to cave than to create a happy marriage.

Finally, I refuse to reveal the length of my marriage to Tim Large.  He and I are just good friends.




Dear M Editor,

A recent incident in Rhino Rift highlights the need to educate people - even Club members - in proper S.R.T. practices.  Prior to this event, which started an M.R.O. call-out, Tim Large and I were asked how the cave should be rigged, since it is fairly well known that Tim and I spent a lot of time putting in safe S.R.T. belays which provide free hangs and even knot protection.  I spent some time explaining to one of the errant Club members how to rig the pitches and what equipment to take for safe conduct.  However, after all this, he declared that our system was too complex and that he would do it his way!  We all know the result.  I must say that I find this cavalier attitude rather disturbing and express my displeasure.

This event prompts me to fully write up the Tim and I did for the benefit of all B.E.C. members indulging in S.R.T.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Romford.

Editor's note: For the benefit of those who know nothing about the Rhino Rift call-out, it occurred when two members were overdue from the cave.  One had little S.R.T. experience and had great difficulty ascending the second pitch.  This led to a delay well beyond their e.t.o.

It is Phil's belief that the difficulties experienced were essentially the result of poor rigging, indeed he believes that dangerous practices were employed which could have caused a serious accident.

He has promised to submit an article explaining what he and Tim have done to improve the rigging of ropes in Rhino Rift, and how we can make best use of the system.