Hamilton's approach to dials

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by DeweyC, Nov 17, 2019.

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  1. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    In another thread I indicated my belief that Hamilton would put whatever dial a purchaser desired on any watch. I have a couple private label watches that have matching dials that "should not" have been present. Hamilton was not dogmatic.

    I was challenged about this and I did not have time to find the silver dial notice below. While I have read that others call this a "service dial", the note speaks for itself. It clearly states the factory will put this dial on new watches as ordered at "no additional charge" over the typical double sunk enamel dial (isn't that nice of em).

    I forget who originally brought this note to light (Robert Sweet?, Don Dahlberg?)), but I downloaded it some time ago.

    The watch is my favorite 996 in a silveroid case.

    So, IMO, unless there is an obvious reason to believe the dial does not belong (Signature correct for watch S/N) then I do not assume it was switched. Particularly when the story behind the watch does not support a swap.

    Like the case switching (1st model 992s in 1930's Hamilton RR case) done to please self-appointed experts, indiscriminate dial switching can confuse the historical record.

    Of course, I believe the current owner can put whatever case, dial and hands on a movement they want. But we should not use dogma as the reason.

    Hamilton Silver Dial.JPG
     
  2. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,

    I agree with you that Hamilton was a company that was out to please and would do about whatever a customer wanted.

    The case you were making, in another thread, was a single sunk dial on a a 1913, 950 was original to the watch, and my point was, after reviewing all the factory literature and handbooks of 950,showed it was only offered with a DS dial .

    I have collected Hamilton for 25+ years and have not run across a RR grade with that metal silver dial on it. I am sure that someone did order one, but why?

    Also the material dept had a SS metal dial painted cream but , how popular were they?

    There will always be exception to the standard, however most collectors try to have the watch match what was correct at that time, instead of trying to justify something like that dial on a nice RR grade watch.
     
  3. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jim,

    You did/do not understand my position. I did not say it was the SS dial original, I said its originality was indeterminate. My position was and is that since it was purchased from a gold breaker who described the case to me, since the dial signature is contemporary to the movement and since there is little reason to believe a collector would "downgrade" the dial, there is no evidence to suggest it was other than original. As a matter of choice, I decided to leave the dial as is.

    That is a big difference from saying it definitively is original. While there is plenty of evidence that Hamilton was accommodating when it came to dials, there is no evidence they refused a sale because a purchaser requested a "downgraded" dial.

    At one point, someone insisted that Hamilton never sold metal dials on new watches. Yet we now know they did. I was also told that all high grade watches by Hamilton were sold only with DS dials. I have a PL 963 which disproves that assertion.

    I would also point out that the 1914 Hamilton note about fitting metal dials to new RR watches is contemporary to the 950 production. Presumably "RR watches" would even include the 950.

    It is quite possible that that the 950s you have encountered have included movements with switched dials to improve their sale. I know this is current practice among resellers.

    All I am saying is that like case switching, dial switching is less about what how the watch came from the factory and more about current preferences.

    In the absence of records of watch movement configuration as shipped, we must reserve judgment. The only way I know to identify a dial that is a refit is by comparing the signature to the period of the movement.

    I did not mean to get you riled; in fact I could not remember who all has been involved in these discussions.

    However, it may be useful for collectors to look at what the factory records show and the "provenance" of the individual watch before switching things around.
     
  4. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,
    I don't know why you would believe I was upset by reading my post? Maybe you see something I can't?

    In DS vs. SS dial discussions, I don't think it is fair to compare the 960 series, because being the 1st 16s watches Hamilton built, the factory descriptions were inaccurate and Halligan's records don't have access to much before 1896-1900.

    The 962-967 grades produced less than 400 watches for each grade and the early watches had the detent stems, that they eliminated .

    Dr Lasser's book and his bulletin articles have some of the early 960's grades with a sales description of single & double sunk dials , so I would not count on any of the early information between 1896-1900 to be accurate.

    About the only reliable information would be Factory sales literature after 1900, most of which are in Halligan's notes.

    None of the Ledgers information indicate the type of dials, so to be sure about the dial you would have to start collecting the boxed examples after Hamilton stated indicating the type of dial on the label or box end label.:)
     
  5. Greg Frauenhoff

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    FWIW, regarding "silvered" (or other color) metal dials, my recollection is that c. 1909 some of the companies (like Waltham) began to market such to railroaders. The pitch was that they were easier to read in low light conditions. I can dig out a period ad if necessary.

    Greg
     
  6. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Greg:

    I'll save you the trouble of digging out an ad; this one is almost 1909.

    1908_Nov_25_Silver_Dial.jpg
     
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  7. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Exactly what the Hamilton memo says in Dewey's 1st post except 5 years earlier. :eek:
     
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  8. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    FYI

    Silver dials available for 16 and 18 size Hamilton watches in 1914 at no extra cost. It appears they shipped out 444 watches with this dial. No mention of watch grade, but this information is listed under the 992.

    Robert

    Silver Dials.jpg
     
  9. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Robert,

    Nice find. Where is that list from?

    FWIW, these silver dials were single sunk dials applied to 992s (RRG) at the factory.
     
  10. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    that is part of the Halligan writings, sourced from sales records.
     
  11. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    As Terry mentioned. The file name is HAL0225. It is near the bottom of the "Hamilton 16 and 18 size movements". It's located where the 974's and 992's are by themselves.

    You best bet is to look for the file name, i.e. HAL0225. There is no page number.

    Robert
     
  12. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    It would be interesting to divide that figure into the 992 produced and get a percentage.
     
  13. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jim.

    It does not matter. In terms of science and research, Roberts's report disproves the hypothesis that Hamilton never sold 992s with silvered dials and supports the alternative hypothesis that Hamilton did sell 992s with silvered dials.

    In addition, this same report disproves the hypothesis that Hamilton never used single sunk dials on RRG watches and supports the hypothesis that hamilton did use SSdials on RRG watches.

    While computing the percentage of 992s that were recorded as sold with silver dials is easy to do, it does not change the above. It also does not touch the issue of customer requested dial orders.
     
  14. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Thank you Robert and Terry.
     
  15. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,
    Who said that they did? You proved that point in post#1 and I agreed in post #2


    Who said that they did?
    My response to you , in another thread,was about specifically the 950 who Factory advertising always stated sold with DS dial and the company didn't use "Dial of your choice" until after 1930 when the 950 was discontinued. Nothing was mentioned about 992's.

    We have always known and agreed that Hamilton would do whatever the customer wanted, so what is your point?
     
  16. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Jim,

    I am sorry if you are offended. I am talking about competing ideas, not who proffered them. I have heard these ideas from a number of people. and had no intention of singling you out.
     
  17. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,
    I am not offended and can't see anything in my post to indicate that. Your arguments or POV's are very ingrained into the collector community and they have been proved incorrect.
     
  18. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    I agree with Jim here. If someone special ordered a metal dial(or SS dial) for some reason(other than they broke their own dial)
    then it may be original. If these irregularities are less than 1% of watches made they fit into their own category of anomalies.
    I believe that if you have a watch that does not fit the sales material or historical documents you have to assume it's aftermarket
    unless you have documentation with the watch(even if it's plausible you will never know).
    When you are talking about a watch that has gone through 100(or more) years of watchmakers hands
    and we know the dials and crystals are very fragile plus owners back then probably cared more about functionality than if they had the original dial.
    Collectors need a baseline of what is considered original. I don't think anyone is disputing
    if it's possible or not(based on the above statistics, it would be rare).



    Rob
     
  19. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    #19 DeweyC, Nov 30, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
    Jim,

    I am glad you were not offended. I take pains to separate ideas from personalities.

    Which ideas are those? 993 in factory cases? Silvered dials are not service dials? Hamilton was very accommodating in supplying whatever dial a customer wanted.? That nothing in the literature sez why Cain started with the pendant set mechanism (only that he did)? That Hamilton based all their 3/4 plate 16 s models on the lowly 974? Their visionary approach to tolerance control? That Hamilton took action against trademark infringers?

    I am parroting ideas Ingrained in the community? Really? Is that why there has been so much skepticism about my observations until others start to add data to support an idea I offered for consideration?

    Believe it or not, when I posted a photo of a 1903 992 SR with a SS RN dial, I was emphatically told it was incorrect. because Hamilton never put SS dials on RRG watches. When I posted a question about the silver dials, I was emphatically told they were "service" dials and were never sold as dial for a watch. It does not matter who stated those claims as fact. They have since been disproved. I am sure a search of this forum will turn those threads up. But I am not interested.

    Jim, I had read most of your citations on pendant set over a year ago and went back to read them all. I did not find one sentence that said why Cain chose to go with pendant set exclusively for his new watch series (both bridge and 3/4 plate). It would be a great help to me if you provided the page and paragraph where I can find where the author states "this is why Cain went with this design" and provides the source data for that conclusion.

    I am glad you know what most collectors want. I do not claim such knowledge.

    I only know that the surviving population of watches has been contaminated by dial and case switching and that absolute, unquestionable conclusions based on what is seen today are not valid. It is like saying "All the big rocks in NYC are in Central Park. The glacier must have dumped them all there and that is why none are on Broadway or Wall Street". This is called survivor bias.

    We are probably going to simply have to agree to disagree about what constitutes belief tested by research.
     
  20. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Dewey,
    AFAIK, I only quoted the article why Cain did this and it was never discussed in any of the threads we have had.

    I was referring you to Dr. Lasser's Bulletin articles about the hiring of the Waltham employees to do the start up for Hamilton.

    Who knows why Cain did this and I think you are chasing a ghost, as to his motivations, other than the Waltham case was the case of choice because it was in stock at the jewelers and it was not until 4-5 years later that the Elgin case became the more popular one, THUS, Hamilton changed over to the lever set.

    My comments said that most collectors have ingrained that the exceptions you have noted could never had been correct as a factory watch, sorry but that is their belief.

    So, I am glad that you have show that is not necessary the case.
     
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  21. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Thanks Jim. I was unclear of your reference (as opposed to citations). Moving on....
     
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  22. Lee Passarella

    Lee Passarella Registered User
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    An interesting thread though it got a bit down in the weeds for a general Hamilton collector, including me. But it gives me an entree to ask a question that I would otherwise have posted separately. If Hamilton was out to please, and if Hamilton dials were interchangeable as they seem to be, here's the question: I know that the very astute collector wants to have a dial of the correct period on a watch, but if a 992 has a 992 B dial in place, how much does that compromise the value of said 992? Is it so violent a breach as to drop the value through the floor, or is that an acceptable swap?
     
  23. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Hi Lee,
    There are a lot of different answers to your question. If you can access all of the dials it would be easier for you to understand.

    This may help Blueprint and info request for Hamilton dial

    Most of the 992B dials had Railway Special printed on them and it would detract from a 992, buy how much is anybody guess.And it they were enamel RS dials they would be valuable dials.

    The 992 & 992B shared some dials so there would be no difference Dials 024,080,083,519,504,518. You could order these dials on a 992B also, even though some would have been 7 years old.

    Then there is the Melamine dials which will fit but definitely a negative on a 992.

    My best answer would be you would have to know your dials and in some cases it would be a positive and a negative in others.
     
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  24. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    Depending on the dial ....... it may enhance the 'value' of the 992....that is "IF" the buyer is looking for a dial..... Say a BM Numerical Railway Special Dial....
    like in this image....
    c13771 front.jpg

    if it was on a 992, someone "may" pay a premium for the watch IF they needed that dial for a 992B.... right, wrong, indifferent... it has happened.
     
  25. Robert Sweet

    Robert Sweet Registered User

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    To help answer your question, do you have a specific 992 in mind, i.e. production year, case model, etc. or is this just a question in general?

    Thanks,
    Robert
     
  26. Lee Passarella

    Lee Passarella Registered User
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    It's a moot point now because the watch I was talking about didn't work out for me. But the answers you guys have given seem to indicate that it's a matter of taste. 992 and 992 B dial--OK, if that's what floats your boat. If you're a stickler, then you will want a bona fide 992 dial.
     
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  27. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Whatever that bona fide dial may be.

    I think it is generally accepted the problem we face today was caused by rampant dial and case switching in the 80s and 90s to make a movement look like an idealized RR watch.

    This begs the question of "What was "wrong" with the dial as found on the watch originally"? Of course we will never know; but, I doubt DS Montgomery dials were the ones being replaced.
    The record as seen in the surviving watches is so screwed up by this contamination that we no idea what was on a given watch originally.

    So yes, today I would say it is all a matter of personal taste. For me, the important issue is that the dial signature match the movt age (thanks to one of Robert's posts). I can only tell if a watch is configured incorrectly. I can never conclude if it is original or not original. Best is "may be" original.

    I do suspect there are movements that retain their original dial and hands which is why I am very conservative about replacing even cracked dials on a movt when everything is contemporary. What the next guy does is beyond my control.

    We are in limbo in the absence of records that describe the movt's as shipped. Even the warranty paper that matches a boxed watch does not include this info. Gives case no. but not dial style.
     
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  28. Rhett Lucke

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    At the risk of being labelled as one of those "sticklers", I completely disagree with the takeaway that its a "matter of taste" and that "whatever floats your boat" is ok.

    As one who has always advised caution when replacing dials and cases, there are times when a "switch'" makes sense. In the example Lee posted, the dial is much later than would ever be correct for a 992 and therefore would never be accepted as correct by a serious collector. This however, does not mean that by putting on the correct dial or case either increases or decreases the value. The market value is a function of the specific watch, case and dial in question.
     
  29. John Cote

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    I haven't been paying too much attention to this thread lately because it has gotten way too far into the weeds of speculation and justification of modern switching practices which to me have no possible justification. I looked again because the thread keeps bouncing back to the top and was pleased to see Rhett's well reasoned and rational post. All I can say is I agree with Rhett.

    It is, of course, a collector's right to do anything they want to a watch. It is, of course, a collectors right to make any conclusions he or she may from any data they may choose to use. It is, of course, a collector's right to believe anything they want. It is, of course, a collector's right to believe anything they want about the market for their goods. All that said, facts are facts and beliefs are not. The market is the market and and individual's beliefs about the market rarely make the market.

    Sorry if what I have said sounds pompous. I recognize that some really good information has been brought to light in this thread. I also don't want to stifle any future attempts to justify oddities. Oddities are what make this all interesting. I just don't like beating a dead horse. That said, I will simply exercise my right not to look at this thread anymore and hope that all of the people who are enjoying it will keep enjoying it.

    Peace, Love and Happiness
     
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  30. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    This from Robert Sweet (Comments on this cased 993 ) post no.81

    "
    As we comment on rare Hamilton watch combinations, how many Hamilton 992B's have you observed in a 14K gold, No. 11 case with a roman numeral dial? Price $300.00. This watch combination was never advertised in any Hamilton catalog to my knowledge. If this combination could be ordered, there shouldn't be any problem ordering 3 or more 993 hunters in Hamilton marked - Crescent cases.

    I've attached the No. 11 case for reference only.

    Robert

    477799-da4a1e9b931cd8ba6a4f90c7b2539cb1.jpg

    "
     
  31. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Sadly the watch Robert reports above may well be one of the many watches in which dials and cases were switched because someone (often a self-proclaimed expert) told them it was incorrect and not saleable. This is but one example of how the historical record is not well interpreted and misinterpreted by observation based on surviving watches.

    Who today would buy a 992B with a Roman Numeral dial? Most experts would have proclaimed it to be a marriage.

    I am personally very conservative in switching dials even today. We just do not know what will show up in the archives and other sources.

    I would not be surprised if the case sold for scrap in one of the gold rushes.

    So it goes.
     
  32. ben_hutcherson

    ben_hutcherson Registered User
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    This entire discussion like a lot of pontificating just to justify what was an obviously incorrect dial on a Hamilton 950 that someone seems to be on a personal mission to justify as being incorrect while also dismissing the expertise of people who have handled a WHOLE lot of these watches.

    There are a lot of really easy explanations to account for how a 950 ended up with a single sunk dial, and it's a HUGE stretch well into speculation that it would have come from the factory that way.
     
  33. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Ben,

    The correct thing to do when you do not like a discussion is to ignore it. It is incorrect to disrupt it by being disrespectful to the discussion and the participants who find it productive.
     
  34. Rhett Lucke

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    As Lee Corso would say .............. "Not so fast my friend"

    It's a little hard to read, but the notes on Robert's document seem to read "14K yel RR#11, spec inlaid, porcelain, Roman fig dial". This description indicates to me that the watch not only had a rare 14K #11 case, but also what sounds to be a special dial (versus just a run of the mill 16 size roman numeral dial). Given the total package, I feel pretty confident that I and many other Hamilton collectors on this site would quickly recognize the watch as something special.

    Furthermore, we don't really know what this dial looks like, but it quite possibly could be marked "Hamilton, Railway Special". If that is the case, it would be immediately recognized by many as not only being rare - but also likely belonging on a 992B.
     
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  35. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Rhett,

    In the 1970s & 1980s? What if the case went to the 1982 gold rush? Art Zimmerla and John Gelson are the ones I can think of who would have bothered to keep it as is. What about the "run of the mill" collector who went by the established wisdom as laid down by the experts?
     
  36. Rhett Lucke

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    Dewey,

    My latest post was in response to your specific comments in the quote box. We could come up with endless "what ifs"

    At this point, it appears to me that we are running in circles and these threads have pretty much run their course. With that, I'm going to follow John to the sidelines and leave further discussion to those who wish to continue.
     
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  37. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Rhett,

    You may be right. I think readers have all the information needed to decide for themselves if Hamilton was rigid in their application of dials to 16size movements.

    I think that was a neutral statement of the discussion.
     
  38. ben_hutcherson

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    #38 ben_hutcherson, Dec 5, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
    Dewey,

    I am saying something because-as seems to be the case-you either want people to not their heads in agreement with what you say and consider disagreement with what you pontificate to be off topic or irrelevant to the point.

    I am speaking up because I am not the only one who thinks that your wild speculation is getting completely out of hand.

    I am also seriously doubting your claimed credentials of having a "scientific background"(what does that mean? What field of science are you in?) primarily because you are habitually latching on to the smallest nugget of evidence that seems to support your claimed hypothesis while ignoring LARGE pieces of information that do not support it. That is NOT scientific no matter how much you want to claim this.

    I would also add that it is EXTREMELY disrespectful to dismiss the accumulated knowledge of people who have been collecting these watches for 40+ years as "self proclaimed experts." To be blunt, you are attempting to establish yourself as just such a "self proclaimed expert" but want to grasp at the straws to do such a thing.

    In any case, I'll leave you to your bully pulpit. Frankly, that is all your threads are!
     
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  39. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Ben,

    Thank you for the opportunity to present myself to our readers.

    I received my Ph.D. in Educational Policy Research from UVa. in 1984. This included skills such as multivariate analysis including multivariate regression (MANOVA is child's play), canonical analysis, discriminant anlaysis, factor analysis and many other techniques i have since forgotten. I was facile with SPSS and SAS (this was in 1980s long before the term "data mining") and my wife and I were the graduate students consultants to faculty and students doing research. My last job was running a $3Mil grant to look at the process of undergraduate medical education.

    I am facile in experimental and quasiexperimentall design and in sociometric research methods.

    I earned my stripes with from the Association of American Medical Colleges, several cardiologists, the Maryland State Dept of Education, Johns Hopkins Program in International Gynecology and Obstetrics (a USAID program) plus with papers at various conferences and publications.

    To be honest, your opinion means nothing to me. Please do get over it.

    Your "pronouncements" regarding my hypotheses and observations suggest that there is something else going on other than a discussion of what constitutes accepted knowledge and the application of that knowledge to interpreting Hamilton watches.

    That you write such a scree after it seemed people agreed the discussion revealed all it was going to reveal further suggests there is something personal involved here. When did I injure you?

    If you do not like what I discuss, then simply ignore me. You seem to be saying that if you (and your "others") see no value in a discussion then it must have NO value to anyone. THAT is decidedly provincial and egocentric. There are others besides yourself in the world.

    If no one was interested in the things I bring to the table, no one would discuss them.

    So no, your disapproval will not stop me from discussing what I and others want to discuss. If you do not like it, go find another sandbox.

    Sorry Ben, but I grew up in a public housing project and got out. How? Because I quickly learned that the "crowd" is often very very wrong. That is the value of the scientific method.
     
  40. ben_hutcherson

    ben_hutcherson Registered User
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    That you for the confirmation that you are not a scientist.

    I have a much better understanding now of where you are coming from, and I will also gladly ignore this thread and anything else from you.
     
  41. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    OK Rob, this thread should probably be closed. We got all the info out there for people to make their own decisions.

    Ben, it is a shame you cannot play in the same sandbox, but that is probably a wise decision.

    Thanks to Ben for giving me the opportunity to present my bona fides.
     
  42. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Jan 12, 2017
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    #42 musicguy, Dec 5, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
    I am going to temporarily "lock" this thread and have a meeting with the moderators.
    It would be nice that even if we disagree strongly with another person's point of view
    that we can still stay civil on the forum. Plus, I do believe that this thread has run it's course
    as said by members above


    Rob
     

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