|Most Biometricians and Statisticians aren't
complete jerks, although I grant you they have their
share. Most of them really want to be helpful. If they
aren't, it's because they are inexperienced in dealing
with clients or don't have a proper respect for the
field work. I once heard that it takes 200,000
casualties to properly train a Major General. I
suppose most biometricians have to personally kill or
cripple at least 15 projects before they learn their
craft. Herein lies the first lesson.|
For example: A cruiser came to a biometrician with pages of notes concerning sample sizes, statistical tests, tracing of wood flows etc. A 6-month project for sure. After the fifth time he was asked, "What's the real problem here?", he bursts out "Well I'll tell you - there's this wet-behind-the-ears young graduate from _______ who has been writing snotty letters to the manager, who is jumping on my boss about something that flatly can't be done anyway! "The cruiser, of course, was quite right. All it took was a phone call to make the snotty letters go away, and the project and its cost vanished.
There are lots of people who just love the sight of a "Gordion Knot", but the best consultants will find a way to avoid most glitches rather than undo them with your time, money, and sweat. A neat swindle that simply solves the real problem may not generate grant money for a university or create an unreadable publication in a pretentious journal, but it's worth its weight in gold. Which brings us to another point.
If you don't get good advice, try to train him. If he didn't appreciate the field situation, get him out there, in poor weather if possible, and let him handle every piece of equipment and do every task. The good ones will welcome the chance. Tell him why his solution failed, without putting it in writing or involving his boss -- this is training....right?
Finally, if you get a good working relationship going, pass the word to your friends. Life is hard enough without the problems caused by bad statistical advice. With a bit of thought, you can avoid being a victim, and with some luck, it will be well worth your time to get advice as early in your project as possible.
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