Author Topic: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.  (Read 1606 times)

Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2019, 05:04:50 AM »

I do not accept claims to a PhD in physics as simply an assurance that the author is a very smart person who has probably got the right answer, regardless of subject.

This is an interesting point. When I put together the pdf version of my website on satellites and weather patterns I had a long discussion with myself about whether to put my name and the letters that go after it. In the end I decided to do both, partly as a "I have nothing to hide" thing, mostly as a "you are not dealing with an idiot" thing, and partly because dammit I earned it!

I am aware, however, that my PhD only makes me an expert in the subject that earned it, and that was 25 years ago now in a career I left behind a long time ago. All I can claim is a grounding in how to do research and how to draw appropriate conclusions from it. I looked at a tiny area of a big subject and produced a small amount of information that no-one else did before me - that's all that is required. No-one has to invent the theory of relativity or discover DNA to get a PhD. They just have to be stubborn and funded. 

My doctorate makes me no more an authority on the subject of my website than someone with no qualifications at all who has put the same amount of effort in as I have. What matters is whether anyone else could employ the same methodology I have and come to the same conclusions, and whether I have exercised due diligence and impartiality in my research. I have. Aulis' papers are generally none of the above.

I am happy to concede that I have an a priori stance that the missions happened as described, but that has not coloured my analysis (just my discussion of them). There have been many edits and rethinking of some sections as a result of my initial conclusions not fitting the data, where I have made conclusions based on what I thought was happening not on what the historical record and the numbers actually said happened. Aulis don't do that - they decide what happened and bend the numbers, or ignore them, or pretend there aren't any other numbers, in order to make their story fit.

I still think my site is a contribution to the body of knowledge and should get me another doctorate :D ;)

Offline Peter B

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2019, 06:39:17 AM »
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I am posting it here to see if I can get some help teasing out the problems in the paper.
I intend no offense, but it's my opinion that asking us to supply you with arguments for a debate you are having with someone else, whom you forbid us to contact directly, is improper.
I am in no way offended.  The venue here invites discussion and my efforts in that regard are at least somewhat successful. "forbid" seems a little strong vs. my "please" but I understand your point.  Your comments above are helpful thank you.

Just a thought, but why not invite him over here?

Having watched an unqualified person get taken apart over the last month or so, I'm now interested in how a PhD reacts to having his arguments dismantled.

Offline Zakalwe

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2019, 06:45:28 AM »
That's a lovely photo, Zakalwe!

Thank you. Quite a quick snap from a Huawei phone camera. The photo abilities of these things are amazing.....computational photography with multi exposure stacking with one button press. I've pretty much given up on lugging a DSLR round for most snapshots.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 06:56:05 AM by Zakalwe »
"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' " - Isaac Asimov

Offline Zakalwe

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2019, 06:47:35 AM »
Non parallel shadows here. I must have faked this photo*






*I didnt.
Permission to shamelessly swipe requested.

Swipe away 😁.
It was taken at Morecambe Bay, England in December 2018
"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' " - Isaac Asimov

Offline bknight

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2019, 08:09:35 AM »
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I am posting it here to see if I can get some help teasing out the problems in the paper.
I intend no offense, but it's my opinion that asking us to supply you with arguments for a debate you are having with someone else, whom you forbid us to contact directly, is improper.
I am in no way offended.  The venue here invites discussion and my efforts in that regard are at least somewhat successful. "forbid" seems a little strong vs. my "please" but I understand your point.  Your comments above are helpful thank you.

Just a thought, but why not invite him over here?

Having watched an unqualified person get taken apart over the last month or so, I'm now interested in how a PhD reacts to having his arguments dismantled.

An excellent thought, that is to have him come over to this forum instead of hiding in aulis.  :)
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2019, 11:16:18 AM »
His PHD seems to be valid, You can see published worked here.

Which I did, prior to writing my second post dismissing any relevant effect of his credentials.  His degree is in a field unrelated to the papers he has written.  He might as well write "D.D.S." or "C.S.A." for his postnominals.  By tying his Apollo claims to his prodigious academic accomplishments, your author has misled his readers into thinking those claims are just as academically sound.  As you noted, they're nothing more than long-debunked tripe given under color of academic rigor.

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My primary interest is in discussing the paper.  I mentioned his PHD because it is somewhat unusual in my experience.  Not in an attempt to make you accept it.

Granted, but our experience with Aulis is that the vast majority of their doctoral authors have turned out to be fictitious.  A few are real people with real degrees, but earned in fields unrelated to the work for which Aulis has sought them.  That is where we find ourselves now.  I agree that the focus should be the paper, but both you and he have made a point of his credentials.  His gives his postnominals in the author statement, and you repeat them here in the subject of your thread -- both as if they impart some weight to the quality of the work, albeit your intent in doing so was obviously different than his.  If he follows the Aulis pattern, his intent was to mislead people.  Honest application of a PhD means to withhold it when it is irrelevant.

The takeaway I and others implore you to recognize is that if you see something at Aulis claiming to be written by an appropriately qualified expert, you should immediately doubt that claim as you did.  If your author cannot demonstrate separate expertise in optics and photogrammetry, you should treat his work not as that of a PhD, but as that of a layman.  What this means is that he doesn't get to invoke merely the specter of expertise in order to overcome a valid rebuttal.  Once his misshapen claims to expertise are out of the way, we can focus on his work on its merits.

By the way, I should point out that I minted quite a few PhDs in my academic career.  Not all who came to me for one got one.  Conversely I should point out that I have somewhere between two and three physics PhDs on the payroll at any given time, and all are quite capable of demonstrating additional skills they have learned when the need arises.  I'm not saying your author cannot be qualified, but his demonstration of qualifications has so far missed the mark.

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He said he had only examined Apollo photos.  I pointed out the fallacy of using a method that had never revealed positive results and could not be measured for accuracy.

Photogrammetric rectification can be measured for accuracy, but he just didn't do it.  The ability to determine, based on the data, how close one's rectification can approach a theoretical ideal is the basis of the later statistical determination of success.  He simply claims out of the blue that a certain fixed percentage of error forms an acceptable window.

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I also pointed out many of the lines drawn did not seem to correspond to any defined point on the astronaut or shadow.

This is where the investigator's skill comes into play.  Experienced photogrammetrists develop the skill to be able to determine which points in a photographed object will produce acceptable correlates in the photographed shadow.  Your author appears not to have that skill.  Further, the effects of terrain on the shadow would make it difficult for even an experienced investigator to achieve a reliable rectification.  Your author does not discuss how to distinguish inflections in the shadow caused by terrain from inflections in the object.

This all forms part of what, in an real scientific investigation, would be cast as the error analysis.  This applies to all science, so this is where I expect someone well qualified in one form of science to at least ask how it should apply to a new science with which he is unfamiliar.  That the error analysis step was skipped altogether is highly suspicious of the author's sincerity.

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I also pointed out he had not taken into account the use of a wide angle lens and the inherent distortion produced.  By attempting to locate the sun in the film plane he was essentially extending that distortion into areas the lens could not even resolve.

Yes, correct.  I said his method is generally correct.  He gets points for realizing that a projection has occurred and that a lens model applies.  But he loses points for assuming that the lens is uniform and spherical.  The Zeiss Biogon explicitly is neither uniform nor spherical.  Professional rectifications use lens models provided by the manufacturer or derived empirically with the sample lens in hand.  He has simply made one up.  And rectifying the projection occurs only over the domain for which the projection is defined -- not, as you note, far outside the frame.  That's elementary mathematics, again something a PhD should have considered second-nature.

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I thought this paper was much more strange than the first.

I didn't read it beyond noting that he was using the layman's toy projection model -- geometrically pure surfaces and angles.  It is wholly unrelated to the effects we expect from uneven natural terrain.  His sample Apollo photo was, amusingly enough, the same one we presented on Mythbusters and showed conclusively how variations in the terrain would produce different angles for shadows according to his (wrong) method of reckoning.  It's as if he's gone fifteen years into the past, dredged up one of the stupidest and most easily debunked claims, slapped his PhD on it, and presented it as science.

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You are taking me a little too literally here.

Fair enough, but it would have been better had you written that the paper seems technical and well thought out.  You wrote instead that it was, and I think we both take issue with that claim on its merits.  It seems to me the author very much wanted his work to be taken as technically proficient and scientifically well thought out.  Neither paper achieves a degree of consideration and rigor that I would expect from a professional scientist, regardless of his field of study.

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I could do the same with your "standard" but it seems petty.

Please do take my standard seriously -- not to say you aren't.  I didn't say anything I didn't mean and am not willing to defend.  Error analysis is basic science.  Validation of method and, if necessary, the skill of the investigator is basic science.  They are what I would consider essential elements in anything that I would accept as well thought out.

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I did point out to him the venue did not allow for comments and provided no contact information.  That it did not encourage healthy discussion in general.  He agreed but also pointed out he was discussing the topic with me via email.

It is indeed suspicious that he published his findings where they are unlikely to be seen by his colleagues or by professionals qualified to challenge his claims, and further suspicious that he makes it difficult to contact him.  That alone makes it likely the author knew his findings could rise no higher than pseudoscience.  That makes it difficult to focus entirely on the merits of the paper, because the ensuing debate generally cannot leave behind the sincerity of the author.  The reasons these authors write these papers never include ordinary scientific integrity.  They aren't trying to set the record straight from a scientific point of view.  They're trying to rewrite the record the way they think it should read because of some other belief, and deliberately misusing science to do so.  The biggest hurdle we have to overcome in these debates is the dishonesty of the authors.  We would like to do that as quickly as possible in each case.

It goes without saying that a private debate in email lacks the same exposure as his public claims.  Unless he is willing to revise or withdraw his papers based on the outcome of such a debate, it can be as if he was never challenged.  The degree to which he is willing to challenge publicly the accomplishments of others should, in an equitable world, be the degree to which he is willing to allow himself to be challenged publicly.  To drop challenges to authenticity and then retreat into the shadows is neither scientifically honest nor ordinarily honest.  In short, if he wants his PhD to mean something to these papers, he had better start acting like someone who earned it.

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I am in no way offended.  The venue here invites discussion and my efforts in that regard are at least somewhat successful. "forbid" seems a little strong vs. my "please" but I understand your point.  Your comments above are helpful thank you.

I'm glad you're not offended, because it's clear you intend to put his claims to the test in much the same way we would.  Debates by proxy are not as good as debates between the parties directly.  By asking us to help you, but asking us also to stand back and let you "take point," you are asking for a posture that simply may not be interesting to many here.  That's as far as I could say it would be improper.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2019, 05:18:04 PM »
More than one light source would create multiple shadows from a single object, and cause diffused shadows.
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Offline nomuse

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2019, 10:58:16 PM »
Worse. The typical method of lighting the stage is multiple lights. This is for two reasons. One is candlepower. A theatrical stage is big, and to cover a swath of space sixty feet wide and forty feet deep at something resembling the intensity of a family room you need to throw down a lot of watts; more than is comfortable with anything but massive expensive HMI fixtures. So we'd hang hundreds (yes, hundreds) of fixtures in the 500 to 1 KW range instead.

The other is angle. You want to paint the faces, and for most purposes you want to achieve a consistent angle of light to face as the actor crosses the stage. Especially if you are aping outdoors, with the practically-at-infinity sun and moon and the large diffuse source sky.

Upshot is lots and lots of tiny overlapping pools. And this is where true pain comes in. Because it is nearly impossible to hide the fact that you have all these edges. Especially when scenery is involved. And, yes, I know all the tricks; run everything fuzzy (which means you get leakage everywhere), add patterns to break up the edges, cut to scenery and other artificial places where you can kind of sort of hide the edges.

But it gives very specific and visible artifacts and there is no way around it. Multiple lights inevitably implies multiple angles and usually comes with multiple coverage patterns.



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Offline JayUtah

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2019, 12:26:57 PM »
A theatrical stage is big, and to cover a swath of space sixty feet wide and forty feet deep at something resembling the intensity of a family room you need to throw down a lot of watts; more than is comfortable with anything but massive expensive HMI fixtures. So we'd hang hundreds (yes, hundreds) of fixtures in the 500 to 1 KW range instead.

A typical Broadway-scale theater will have around 800 lighting circuits, where each "circuit" is separately dimmable and can drive up to around 10 lighting instruments.  The Mormon conference center, downtown in my city, has seven thousand lighting circuits.  That's because its stage -- cleared of the dais -- is large enough that a Boeing 737 can turn a full circle on it.  They have to use the big Gladiator followspots.

I don't know how relevant those numbers are anymore because more and more theaters are turning to LED instruments and smart instruments, which change the electrical engineering figures.  But yes, it takes a lot of individual instruments to get enough watts on the stage or set.  Our desert set, years ago, was lit by a single 12 kW instrument, but the usable pool of light was only about 30-40 square meters.  There was much more of the photographable terrain that simply was not lit.  For From the Earth to the Moon they had to throw the beams of dozens of instruments off a custom parabolic reflector to get suitable coverage.

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The other is angle. You want to paint the faces, and for most purposes you want to achieve a consistent angle of light to face as the actor crosses the stage.

In our case, the theater is in-the-round, meaning that an actor is simultaneously seen from every angle.  In this case we can't reveal contour as easily in the traditional way of having the key light come from one side and the fill light from another.  In an arena theater, some viewers may see actors lit only by the fill, which is less presentable.  Hence we have to employ roughly equal lux on all sides, varying the color instead.

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Because it is nearly impossible to hide the fact that you have all these edges.

This is visible in older cinematography that used a combination of sunlight and artificial light for shooting outdoors.  You see the sun-cast shadow and then a fainter shadow cast by the fill instrument.

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But it gives very specific and visible artifacts and there is no way around it. Multiple lights inevitably implies multiple angles and usually comes with multiple coverage patterns.

The funny thing is when these people speak with such great apparent authority on the subject of studio, set, and stage lighting, and it turns out they are just as ignorant about that as they are about natural light.

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I hope that wasn't too much of a Grandpa Simpson.

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Offline JayUtah

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2019, 03:24:43 PM »
In the end I decided to do both, partly as a "I have nothing to hide" thing...

Personally, I wouldn't consider it dishonest or misleading to leave off the postnominals when treating a subject outside one's doctoral expertise.  In my civic duties I routinely interact with interested amateurs who are otherwise highly qualified in their professions.  If I'm teaching someone how to make herbal infusions and bitters, I'm not going to feel betrayed if I suddenly find out he holds a J.D. or something.

I'm told also that Commonwealth nations, especially in the U.K. proper, it is more common to give postnominals whereas in America it is increasingly seen as pretentious.  This may have factored in your judgment.  It may also have factored into the judgment of the author we're dealing with.

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...mostly as a "you are not dealing with an idiot" thing...

In your case it's demonstrably true that we're not dealing with an idiot.  But I've also dealt with a few PhDs who -- let's face it -- are functional idiots when it comes to certain things beyond their ken.  I've literally dealt with tens of thousands of dollars of damage incurred to equipment because some guy thought he could use it without being properly qualified, because he "had a PhD in physics" and felt that was enough.  In some cynical circles an advanced academic degree all but indicates a lack of any practical skill or useful understanding.  It can backfire when you are trying to establish credibility.  In my experience the lack of idiocy is always better demonstrated than advertised.  It sometimes ends up being cheaper, too.

But some, it seems, want to make the converse argument.  They make a poor (if not outright idiotic) argument, then suppose that slapping their degree on it fixes it.  And in some readers' minds, it does fix it.  The reader thinks, "Well, this doesn't make sense to me, but the author holds a doctorate and so maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt."

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...and partly because dammit I earned it!

Especially if, as you point out, you've moved on to a different field and thus lack the ongoing satisfaction that would otherwise come from continued work in the field.  A doctoral degree is unlike other degrees, both in the sheer amount of information that must be mastered, and in the ability to extend the boundary of that body of knowledge in a novel way.  Anyone who attains that level of proficiency should be given credit for it, if only as a monumental achievement.

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I am aware, however, that my PhD only makes me an expert in the subject that earned it, and that was 25 years ago now in a career I left behind a long time ago. All I can claim is a grounding in how to do research and how to draw appropriate conclusions from it.

There you go.  Sending a PhD laureate out the door entails filling his head with as much of the knowledge of the field as we can cram in there.  But more importantly it requires us to train him to think like a scientist.  That means guiding him in approaching a problem by first surveying what has been done previously, characterizing a new problem in terms of data that can be observed, characterizing that data according to its behavior, designing a repeatable experiment around that, validating the design with one's peers and by appropriate controls, carrying out the empiricism (if any), and correctly reasoning a conclusion via logic and math.  That is, we train him in all the aspects of modern scientific inquiry that result in reliable conclusions, and we expect those to become second nature to him.

We expect someone who holds a PhD to know what it means generally to be a scientist.  If he departs from known best practices in an egregious way, his peers will want to know why.  This is why our present author vexes us so much.  We expect a lack of rigor from someone who is unaccustomed to providing it.  It could be an innocent shortfall; the layman did the best he could.  Not so with a qualified PhD.  If our author's credentials are valid, as it seems they are, then he certainly did not do the best he could.

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My doctorate makes me no more an authority on the subject of my website than someone with no qualifications at all who has put the same amount of effort in as I have.

Or stated more succinctly, there are many ways to arrive at correct and useful knowledge.  Saying "I have a doctorate in X" is not a shortcut to knowledge of Y.  It may not even be a shortcut to full knowledge of X.  Any mechanical engineer with enough experience will admit that machinists have a far better understanding than they do about how materials behave in the processes the engineer envisions.  I can name quite a few photographers who understand perspective, light, and shadow at a visceral level.  They probably can't do the math or describe the optics in great detail.  There are different kinds of understanding.

This is why I hastened to point out to TexMex that it's not impossible for his author to be qualified in photographic analysis.  It's merely that he would have to substantiate that qualification by some means other than a PhD in physics.  He's claiming he can authenticate photos based on photogrammetric ray-tracing.  His skill at doing that is entirely unestablished, and the method by which he proposes to do it is untried.

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What matters is whether anyone else could employ the same methodology I have and come to the same conclusions, and whether I have exercised due diligence and impartiality in my research. I have. Aulis' papers are generally none of the above.

Agreed.  Aulis papers are principally voces clamantes in deserto, challenging widely-held conclusions using questionable methods -- all hidden behind thin, false veils of academic rigor.

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I am happy to concede that I have an a priori stance that the missions happened as described, but that has not coloured my analysis (just my discussion of them).

Having formed an opinion based on the plethora of other evidence at hand is not abnormal or improper.  We rightly look much more closely at findings that seem to contradict all others than at findings that slide effortlessly into consilience with what we already know.  But the notion that one can be dispassionate only if one has omitted an opinion heretofore is absurd.  No science works that way.  Open-mindedness merely means to examine something on its merits rather than prejudicially accept or reject it.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2019, 03:41:17 PM »

I'm told also that Commonwealth nations, especially in the U.K. proper, it is more common to give postnominals whereas in America it is increasingly seen as pretentious.  This may have factored in your judgment.  It may also have factored into the judgment of the author we're dealing with.

I would say it is far more common in the US to use academic post nominals than in "Commonwealth countries".  My experience covers the US, NZ, Oz, UK, Canada, and India. You'd only use them in very formal occasions (I've only used them on CV).  Never on a paper. Getting called Dr is more common, especially in India (where I get "Sir" a bit too). But again, never on a paper, where it is the work that counts, not the qualifications.


Offline benparry

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2019, 06:04:35 AM »
Non parallel shadows here. I must have faked this photo*






*I didnt.
Permission to shamelessly swipe requested.

Swipe away 😁.
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Offline JayUtah

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2019, 08:48:09 AM »
I would say it is far more common in the US to use academic post nominals than in "Commonwealth countries".

Fair enough.  I was told this in the early '80s, so it's either old or wrong or both.
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams

Offline JayUtah

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2019, 08:49:54 AM »
I thought I recognised that place. I'm from Blackburn my friend

Oh dear, now I'm going to have "Day in the Life" stuck in my head all day.
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Offline jfb

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Re: Shadow Analysis by a PHD.
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2019, 12:31:16 PM »
I thought I recognised that place. I'm from Blackburn my friend

Oh dear, now I'm going to have "Day in the Life" stuck in my head all day.

There are worse earworms.

Much, much worse.