Tag Archives: society

Certificate and the Ring

It is March already and graduating students from Engineering and Geoscience programs in several provinces across Canada are excited to receive their professional certificates and the infamous rings. Future Engineers get their Iron Rings and the future Geologists and Geophysicists get their Earth Rings1.

To some people receiving the certificate and the ring represent just another stage in their life. To others it represents absolutely nothing. In extreme cases students and professionals criticize this practice stating there is no reason to have a professional regulatory body. This is how the meaningfulness of having a ring ceremony can be lost in translation. Yes of course Canada is a free country and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. However, as a matter of principle I believe these professional qualification rings are not pieces of jewelry. The certificates are certainly not just meaningless papers you add to your pile of certificates.

earth_erings_certificateThe certificate and the ring represent an academic and professional achievement. They are also historically significant and indicate the wearers support for the ethical principles and governing laws of the profession2. Furthermore, the ring is a symbol of your hard work, dedication, knowledge and success in your academic life. Just like you and your friends who are graduating this year, thousands of others before you have went through the same process. The certificate represents that you have achieved the academic goals to be an Engineer or a Geoscientist. It shows that you are qualified to perform certain task under specific ethical and fundamental principles of the profession3. It also represent you are part of a wider professional organizations such as Engineers Canada, Geoscientists Canada and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).

Majority of those who oppose regulations are in the geoscience sector. There are two popular arguments against regulatory bodies circulating in the opposition camp. First argument is that unlike engineers, geoscientists do not take critical enough decisions to be regulated. Respectfully, I completely disagree with the this statement because there are numerus engineering failures caused by the lack of geological input such as hydroelectric dam failures due to misinterpretation or rocks and soils. Geoscientists are as important as engineers but unlike engineers it seems we ourselves devalue our own profession.

The second argument is that geoscience certifications such as Geoscientist in Training (GIT) or Professional Geoscientist (P. Geo) is not widely recognized. This problem can also be fixed though regulatory bodies by enforcing rules and regulations to govern who can be qualified to work in the industry. The biggest problem in acceptance of geoscience professional certifications is that our own Geologists and Geophysicists insist on not recognizing them. I think this mentality has to change to protect our young professionals and future generations. It is disrespectful that some of the professional geoscientist who worked in the industry and research for decades wants to strike down policies that would improve acceptance of GIT and P. Geo certifications. It is a one thing if you personally do not want to apply for it; it is entirely different when you try to make a propaganda movement out of it. Companies should give priority for individuals with professional certifications over others. The hiring and career advancement practices should be overhauled to recognize and provide more bearing to professional certifications.

Finally if I have not convinced you of the importance of professional regulatory bodies and professional certificates, think about the general public. If you look from a general public’s perspective, ask yourself, if you are not proud about your achievement as a professional, then why should others care about what you do? Why should a company hire you if you have no respect for professional traditions? Would you go to a doctor who refused to respect Hippocratic Oath? In order to receive respect from others, you should respect yourself first. If you are unable to understand and appreciate the values of these traditional professional organizations, maybe you should not be a professional scientist at all.

Disclaimer:

I am a new graduate (2016) with B.Sc. in Petroleum Geology. I am not an expert of anything. However, I have been told repeatedly by veteran Geologists and Geophysicists why certifications such as Geoscientist in Training (GIT) or Professional Geoscientist (P. Geo) are “useless” and “meaning less”. Often GIT and P. Geo certifications have been described as “what’s the point” and “it’s just a ring with a paper”. I wrote this article not to disrespect educated, intelligent and experienced geoscientists, but to encourage positive optimistic discussion on why it is important to recognize certifications and professional regulatory bodies.

Footnotes:

1. Engineering graduates across Canada receives Iron Rings, but not all Geoscience graduates receive Earth Rings. Some Canadian provinces do not have an Earth Ring ceremony.
2. Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
3. Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act Alberta

Careers Petroleum Geology

The terms “Petroleum Geology” and “Petroleum Engineering” have been around since the boom in the oil and gas industry. But you should ask yourself, is there any difference between a Geologist and a Petroleum Geologist? Can a Professional Geologist perform the same tasks as a specialized Professional Petroleum Geologist? To answer these questions, we need to understand the basics of petroleum geology and why it is important to our modern day energy needs.

Multidisciplinary Subject Matter

If you search the term “geology” you will come across several different definitions. One of which would be; Geology a science that studies the solid Earth and its life forms though past and current processes recorded in minerals and rocks. The key term in this particular definition is the processes. The idea of studying processes has been around even before the growth in petroleum industry. At least a basic understanding of geological and geophysical processes is very important to petroleum industry. Such information is valuable in predicting petroleum fluid accumulation zones which have economic significance. As natural resources become scarce, we need better methods for exploration and exploitation of sought after resources. We realized geology itself cannot find answers to these scientific and economic challenges. Hence to reduce costs associated with exploration and extraction of natural resources, specialization of Petroleum Geology was born. Specialization does not mean a student only learn one aspect of geology. For example, the petroleum geology program at the University of Calgary encompasses structural geology, geochemistry, physics, biology and many other disciplines with emphasis on their relation to petroleum industry.

Important Concepts

The petroleum Geologists are responsible for understanding the processes of petroleum source rock formation, fluid migration patterns, reservoir characteristics, hydrocarbon traps and structural or stratigraphic trap mechanisms. It is the job of the petroleum geologist to use such knowledge to advice oil and gas companies on where to find reservoirs and how to extract hydrocarbons economically.

Tools and Tricks of the Trade

There are many tools and tricks currently used by geoscientists (the term “geoscientist” is used as an umbrella for geologists, geophysicists, engineers, earth scientists, environmental scientists, etc) to understand the Earth.

The most fundamental knowledge comes from previous studies. Typically oil and gas companies keep large databases of previously published research projects, textbooks and other materials available to their geoscientists. The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta also keep records of core samples and well logs from projects across the country. These resources are utmost important petroleum geologist because use of such information can minimize the possibility of making incorrect decisions.

Education, past experiences and the quality of past experiences also play a major role in success of a petroleum geologist. A geologist who is capable of understanding the basics of math, physics, chemistry, biology and structural systems trend to outshine his/her peers. This is because hydrocarbon reservoirs are dynamic in nature. Not only a petroleum geologist has to successfully predict deposit locations, but also has to be able to provide information on dynamic factors such as fluid migration during a hydrocarbon extraction project. You cannot simply find the reservoir and then walk out of it and if it is that the case, most petroleum geologists would be out of work in few years. This is why the specialization Petroleum Geology is important. While a typical geologist would be able to perform the same tasks, the specialization may help companies expedite the decision making process.

Technologically we use variety of tools to achieve our goals. Petroleum geologists and geophysics probably use more technologies than most other specializations in geosciences. For example, petrophyscial techniques on wireline well logs are used to interpret lithologies and fluid types in subsurface using software programs such as PowerLog, Petrel, AccuMap, etc. These software are also used for producing geological maps with interpreted data for exploration and development. Companies typically hire technical school graduates for software operations and maintenance. However, for advanced interpretations it is necessary to hire geology (or geoscience) graduates. One of the major problems with software use is that they often over or under predict multiple parameters resulting in naturally imposable interpretations. These can result in completely incorrect or incoherent simulations of reservoirs. This is where the education and experience of a professional geologist can make a difference. A professional geologist should be able to rectify such issues before it is too late by identifying these anomalies during the early stage of petroleum exploration and development.

We need Petroleum Geologists

Yes, a good geologist with no additional petroleum training may be able to perform the same task, but when you are working on a multimillion dollar project, you would want to hire geologists with specialized training and experience. This is because one mistake could cost a company millions in revenue loss. A petroleum geologist who has specialized training and/or experience in the oil and gas industry could make the difference between a successful profitable project and a complete disaster.

How would you become a Petroleum Geologist?

The term “Petroleum Geology” is very board. Anyone can identify themselves as petroleum geologist including those with engineering and other related degrees, certifications and professional experience. With proper training and experience and engineer or a technician can act as a petroleum geologist. However, there are several universities such as the University of Calgary currently offers petroleum geology classes and specialization degrees. In a competitive job market, having such courses and degrees definitely help you get into the industry much quicker than those who do not have such backgrounds.

It is important to highlight that having a degree in petroleum geology or by taking petroleum classes does not make a person a proficient professional petroleum geologist. Success comes down to the competency, professionalism and experience.

Documentary: The Dark Ages

Producers: The Dark Ages
Producers: History Channel
Type: Social Science, Society, Religion and Politics
Country: USA
Year: 2007
Website: web

Opinion:

A “OK” documentary for junior level Geography and History classes. I would not consider some of the historical facts writer(s) and historians discussed to be accurate. For example, Barbarians are not 100% bad people while Roman Empire was far from perfect. The documentary also failed to highlight the misery of slaves in the Roman Empire. It also failed to mention destruction Romans did to Corinth and Carthage in 146 B.C. The documentary also paints a picture of Catholicism being the backbone of European culture during and after the Dark Ages. However, there are sill large number of other Christians and native religious groups existed. Finally, the documentary failed to say that Dark Ages started before the fall of Roman Empire. Dark Ages did not start at the fall of Roman Empire.

Even with several inaccuracies, this movie can be used to obtain a general idea of the social and economic situation in Europe. In other words, this will provide you with some background information and overall picture of the European history.

Mindfulness without the core values

After scientific research proved mindfulness meditation and physiological treatments derived from ancient Buddhist traditions work better than chemical-based medications1,2,3, mindfulness techniques have been growing in popularity in the Western world. The companies like Google Inc. have hired specialist to train their staff on mindfulness. American (USA) prisons officials have used it to control and reduce violence among inmates. Several pre-postsecondary schools have used it to help teens cope with stress and anger. But the teaching of mindfulness has been clouded due to extensive modifications to the practice. From few years from now, the mindfulness techniques used in North America and Europe may not even be as effective as the original version derived from Buddhism.

In order to cater to those who hate Buddhism, but love the benefits of Eastern philosophies, the mindfulness experts work hard to remove Buddhism so that those bigots can also be benefited from the practice.

Dr. Russ Harris, an Australian expert in mindfulness wrote: “‘Mindfulness’ is an ancient concept, found in a wide range of spiritual and religious traditions, including most martial arts, yoga, tai chi, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.”4. The very idea of mindfulness and the techniques associated with it have only been found in Buddhism and not in any other religion or philosophy stated by individuals like Dr. Harris. By stating it was also found in other religious, the Dr. Harris is trying to take away the significance of Buddhism in mindfulness mediation. It is a blatant attempt to hijack Buddhism based mindfulness and integrates it into Westernized ideology. This is not an uncommon practice among some European and Western academics. The non-Buddhist academic community has been aggressively trying to “purify” Buddhism out of the mindfulness equation. It is not only scientifically unethical, but also reflects the “typical” European or Western mentality of stealing from others. Most of these mindfulness experts fabricate evidence because their clients are devoted Christians. In order to cater to those who hate Buddhism, but love the benefits of Eastern philosophies, the mindfulness experts work hard to remove Buddhism so that those bigots can also be benefited from the practice.

Misconduct, Plagiarism and Falsification

Ask yourself; if you had written a thesis on special relativity principle and decided not to credit Albert Einstein and others, does that constitute professional or academic misconduct? According policies of several universities, governments and professional organizations in Canada, presenting materials without proper credits considered as a serious breach of conduct5, 6. A student who submit a document with incorrect or no citations could face severe penalty6. A professional could lose their practice license for plagiarism7. These same rules of ethics should be applied to those who promote mindfulness. Unfortunately due to the lack of oversight or regulatory body, anyone can teach meditation in most parts of the world.

Experts misrepresent Buddhism for financial gains.

Buddhist Mediation is Abused Openly
monk

On 23 of December 2014, the Shaw Cable TV Canada broadcast a program highlighting how companies in Canada and US, including Google Inc., use mindfulness as a tool to help develop positive workplace environments. The program lasted for about 30 minutes, but the so called experts in mindfulness never mention the connection between mindfulness and Buddhism. In fact, I got the feeling that they have done everything to cover up that it is a form of Buddhist practice. Alberta is a known Conservative region in Canada and therefore I am not surprised by the cover up. However, if you are determined to exclude all references to Buddhism, you should consider using synthetic drugs instead of mindfulness at the first place. The drugs may be more effective than the watered-down version of mindfulness mediation.

This is not the only thing that capitalism based economies and Euro-centric societies have hijacked from others. While falsification of Eastern ideologies as Western has been done since the European imperialism days, today it is done much more openly. The swastika is a well-known fabrication used by Adolf Hitler8. It is used by Hindus and Buddhists for thousands of years before Hitler hijacked and used as a symbol for Nazi regime. Even today most people live in the West have no idea where it came from; except if they “Googled it”. Another example of such hijacking is the term “Buddha” used by strip clubs and night clubs as a brand name. Even a person with slightest idea of what “Buddha” stands for would not use it for such activities. It does not represent anything to do with clubs let along strip clubs. In Canada, one of the most ironic trends in the 21st century is learning Vipassana Meditation without Buddhism. It is like learning English without the English alphabet. With the speared of Westernization, the abuse of Eastern ideologies has spread to the East itself.

Buddhist mediation programs in the prison systems have been scrapped due to outcry from the fundamentalist Christian community.

The popular media usually do not focus on this issue. However, recently few liberal media sectors have picked up the obvious xenophobic nature of North Americans. In the 2008 documentary, Dhamma Brothers by Andrew Kukura highlighted one of many well-known recent instances where people have either attacked Buddhism or hijacked Buddhist traditions. In the documentary they covered prison inmates who were given instructions for Buddhist mediation. The Buddhist mediation was used as a method to control violence and help clam the prisoner. It was started as a trail and it was highly successful. Therefore, the prison officials decided to extend the meditation program. But the Buddhist mediation programs in the prison systems have been scrapped due to outcry from the fundamentalist Christian community (Watch: Dhamma Brothers; 2008 Documentary for detailed information). So much for “freedom” of everything in America when on group bullies the other. It is ironic that these same fundamentalist Christians also protest when they were met with any opposition to their anti-Buddhist Christian conversions in South Asia. In other words, it is good to spread of the word of the Jesus in the Buddhist world, but you dare not exercise the freedom of speech in Christian USA to teach effective Buddhist mediation.

Buddhists Don’t Care

If you asked Buddhists about misrepresentation of Buddhist practices by others, most of them will not have any objections. This is the nature of Buddhists. Buddhists are generally peaceful and often avoid confrontations from other religious communities. But it should not be used as an excuse by these mindfulness experts to exploit Buddhism for their own agenda. I find it appalling that the “silence” of the global Buddhism community has been used to promote mindfulness without core Buddhist values.

It is a widespread issue

This is not limited to the examples I provided above. This is a widespread issue that cut across all levels of experts. From reputed university professors to yoga instructors and lay practitioners, everyone wants Buddhist mindfulness without Buddhism. In 2015, the “meditation and alternative medicine” industry has grown rapidly. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies specializing mindfulness. Each organization and individual has their own interpretation of the practice. To most, it is just a “fashion” statement rather than an effective psychological treatment. If your neighbor is doing it, you want it to because it is the new trend.

Most of these mindfulness experts misrepresent Buddhism for financial gains. Commercialization of Buddhism must appeal to the non-Buddhist and anti-Buddhists in our society. Otherwise the financial loss could be catastrophic. This is the primary reason why Buddhism is a problem to Buddhist based mindfulness.

I think that falsification and misrepresentation of the origins of mindfulness will eventually lead to ineffective practices. It is disgraceful that these so called mindfulness professionals abuse the system. It is specially concerns me when educated individuals such as research professors also falls victim to such absurd interpretation of Buddhism. But at the end of the day, those who practice mindfulness without proper Buddhist meditation will reap far less than those who integrate Buddhist values. Unfortunately this hijacking of concepts from other cultures and claiming them as theirs is not a new trend in the European-based civilizations across the globe.

References

1. Miller, J. J., Fletcher, K., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (1995). Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. General hospital psychiatry, 17(3), 192-200.

2. Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., & Burney, R. (1985). The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Journal of behavioral medicine, 8(2), 163-190.

3. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., … & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564-570.

4. Harris, R. (2009, October 1). Mindfulness without meditation. Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.actmindfully.com.au/upimages/mindfulness_without_meditation_–_russ_harris_–_hcpj_oct_09.pdf

5. How Not to Plagiarize. (2010, July 14). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/using-sources/how-not-to-plagiarize

6. K.2 Plagiarism/Cheating/Other Academic Misconduct. (2014, January 1). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.ucalgary.ca/pubs/calendar/current/k-2.html

7. 500.25- Scientific Integrity. (2013, February 13). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/500/500-25.html

8. Merkl, P. H. (1975). Political violence under the Swastika. New Jersey.

Notice

This article may have hit a nerve for some readers. That is why I have provided you with a very good references list (above). While the article has some of my own interoperations or options, every single “fact” has been thoroughly researched and backed with third party evidence. If you are offended by the article, then you must be offended at anyone who exercises the freedom of speech. There is a difference between freedom of speech and the abuse of speech. This article does not incite violence or promote hatred (abuse of speech). But simply it highlights the reality of the hypocritical society with proper evidence (freedom of speech).

Subject to interpretation

World is full of mysteries. Science is the study of natural world through experiments and observations. Hence to solve mysteries we often rely on scientific method, logical processes, to explain the unexplainable. But what if I told you that large portion of science is also subjected to numerous interpretations?

Role of human nature

Modern science is a gradual progress of failures and accomplishments. It was not created over night nor does it have a perfect track record. Sometimes Scientists make mistakes out of limited knowledge, experience or simply due to their egos. For example, the AC-DC war (“War of Currents”) in the late 1880s both Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse did not realized the potential for both AC and DC currents. Therefore they fought for a monopoly. Today we use both types of currents; AC for home electrical systems and DC for our electronics. Another example of limited knowledge would be how we used to handle radioactive materials without the concern for radiation. In the old days Scientists like Marie Curie did not know the effects of radiation on human body. Therefore she used the same tools used for uranium salts for cooking food. She was poisoning herself without being aware of it. Unlike what most people assume, the subject of science is not perfect and it is already muddier with a so many failures and assumptions.

Public expectations

The problem with the term “science” is that majority of the general public expect it to be prefect and logical. For example, if 1+1 is equal to 2, then it must be true for everyone under any given circumstances. Public expects the Scientists like us to search for explanation to problems and find solutions the same way that 1+1=2. This is where the relationships between the general public and the scientific community fall apart.

In 2012, Geologists who did not predict the earthquake in Italy were treated with jail time. The reason the judge gave was that the Geologists downplayed a series of minor earthquakes in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009 prior to the big one. The public want accountability for our actions. But most people do not understand that science is not a perfect tool. It is a series of tools that often far from perfect. Instead of jailing the Scientists, public should have encourage them to find better ways to interpret minor earthquakes so we can predict better in the future.

Interpretations

Yes, there are many different shades of black (or any other color). You can say the “sample X was white on day 1” and “turns to dark gray on day 3”. Then someone else observing the exact same sample can say the “sample X was purple-white on day 1” and “turns to light black on day 3”. You both may be right because the color is subjected to interpretations. The ambiguity factor is everywhere. How do you do you define sea level when sea rise and fall with seasons and time of the day, how do you know the soil color index is correct, how do you separate one Geologic Formation from another, how to you measure a success of a medical trial, etc?

Scientists have spent vast amount of resources to calibrate and standardize how we record and interpret our observations. Still as individuals we have to make decisions when we observe, record and interpret data. During all three steps, we can make mistakes or we may be influenced by our superiors (CEO, Manager, Professor, “smart friend”, etc). This is not always a problem in every area of science. But it does affect a lot of Geologists. I found this is a huge problem for students in Geology and Geophysics compared to Students in Mathematics and Classical Physics.

Let’s look at the problem from a Field Geologist’s point of view. Imagine you are given the task of mapping formations in a five by five kilometer area. This is what exactly I did during field school in Carlin Canyon, Nevada in May 2014. Compared to millions of square kilometers of Earth, this is a very small area. But even with such a limited area, you can be faced with multiple interpretation issues. First you need to define lithologies. Assuming you had no outside help, it will require you to walk across the area scanning for outcrops with different properties. Then you have to define the definitions you will be using to separate one formation from another. Just because of the lithology has changed; it may not be enough to call it a new formation from the unit above/below. (There are many other features like on a fault; you must decide what type of fault and the sense of motion. The list goes on…) This is where your interpretation is important. While not everyone will agree with you, whatever the interpretation you make has to be backed up by facts; facts that you observe and recorded. These facts must be able to traced and tested. For example, providing a GPS location reading for the contact between two or more formation must be able to trace back by someone else. You may be correct or you may be completely wrong. The important thing is that you have solid evidence on what you have found.

Just because all observations are subject to interpretation, it does not mean that all interpretations and subsequent conclusions are wrong. Even if the interpretations sound too extreme, they might be right. In fact, most reputed findings are born out of interpretations that at the time might even sound crazy. For example, by analyzing a wave, scientists said we can transmit sound and images over the air wirelessly. It was a crazy idea at that time, but this lead to the development of television.

Interpretations are not wild guesses, but rather educated decisions based on previous studies and your own observations. The problem is there is a human factor in which we all think differently.

Public must be educated

An experienced Geologist cannot predict when the next earthquake or sinkhole may occur. Even with the advancement of technologies we still cannot predict when and where these would occur. We can predict, but we cannot be sure. We need to realize this is always be a problem when we try to define nature.

Perceptions that all sciences are based on clear cut observations and evidence (by the public hurts) the academic community. In my opinion the solution is to educate the public by admitting that science is not perfect. Even if it damages the controversial and politically sensitive matters like climate research, we need to admit that science is not perfect. Otherwise the trust between the science community and the public will be broken. As a result I think we might even be going back to an age where religion rules the world over the reasoning and science. That world without logic, reason and scientific method is to me, unthinkable.