Why I Did This Web Site

by

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

This material is copyrighted and all rights retained by the author  

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As some in the scuba industry know, I ceased writing for the recreational scuba community in the early 90's. I did this shortly after it required the very real threat of a formal criminal investigation to secure the simple courtesy of having my name on a chapter I had written (on an all rights retained by author contract) as a favor for a major training agency. I had given up a month of my life to write that piece. It was published without my name and the article contents were placed on a CD for others to derive profit. More and more, I saw my name altered or removed, while other people were selling my words for their profit. It was a time that defined, for me, the ultimate in personal and professional betrayal. I am still somewhat amazed at the ease with which some in the scuba industry accept plagiarism-for-profit as a viable business strategy and the vehemence and malevolence (including death threats) with which these behaviors are defended. When I realized how emotionally draining this fighting for what-used-to-be and what-should-be a common courtesy had become, I decided life was too short to worry about such things and I simply walked away. As I understand it, I am not the only "established" author who did so. 

Many moons passed.

Then, recreational scuba magazines started promoting training children. One boldly stated that there were no medical concerns about training kids. I was surprised that anyone, especially in today's litigious climate, would make such a statement. I wrote a letter to the editor (which was not published by them) about my concerns.

I have a very strong "protect the kid" gene. I was raised in a most disturbing (Soul Murder)  environment ... physical and psychological abuse beyond the ability of many to comprehend (The kid laying on railroad tracks in indescribable terror, waiting for the very loud night-time train to pass overhead on the cover of  "Unchained Memories" is me and the slightly-altered-to-protect-my-identity story, "The Silver At The Surface of the Water," within that book, sans "Hollywood Ending," is mine.) I know for a scientific fact that the refrigerator light goes out when the door is closed because, as a child, I was there. So, I am clearly "sensitive"  to matters involving children and their safety.

When the letter to the editor about my concerns over training children was not published, I decided to come out of "writing retirement." I consented to give a talk at Our World Underwater and chose "Why I Don't Train Kids" as my topic. Because some in the industry are convinced that the only possible recovery from the current economic slump is perpetual lowering of standards and training age, I did this with much trepidation. (In Chicago, I received an anonymous phone call warning me not to provide my slides until just before my talk because if I turned in my slides the requested night before, they would be lost. Because I was warned that there would be hecklers in the audience, I did the talk with the request that all questions / comments be saved until the end of the talk. The talk went without interruption.)

After this talk was given, it took me more than three hours to get from the lecture auditorium to my hotel room. (I am a jeans and tennis shoe type person and could hardly wait to get out of my suit and tie (g), but felt it would be inappropriate to exit without interacting with the audience, especially when my talk had been met with such an unexpected reaction!)

Simply put, I was overwhelmed by the positive response. It truly caught me unprepared. It remains one of the warmest, most rewarding moments I have known as a diving educator.

On the drive home, still basking in the warmth of that Chicago crowd, I decided to finally "bite the bullet" and do a personal website. Although I had been previously asked to do this and some of my stuff appeared elsewhere on the internet (One site in England was actually selling my (and others) articles. There was even a comment on the site that complaining was fruitless 'cause of the cost of litigation.) I had avoided doing a personal site because I had the now-confirmed impression that it involved an enormous commitment of time and resources. But, protecting kids is an issue dear to my heart, and so the article,  Why I Do NOT Train Kids,  was written, and this website was initiated. The topic of kids in diving is most likely the only issue in recreational scuba diving that could have brought me out of my former-author status. I also believe that had the magazine not stated there were no medical concerns about kids in diving, that I would still be a retired author with no website.

My Kids In Diving article (more than 2500 downloads the first month I was online ... so many, I had to move it off the Earthlink server the first week it was available because of potential excessive bandwidth problems)  remains one of the most popular downloads on this Diving Myths & Realities site.

If you like my website, then you should thank the divers in the audience from my "Kids in Diving" talk at Our World Underwater because without their enthusiastic and most-friendly post-talk response to me, there would not have been any motivation to return to writing for the recreational scuba community.

So, my thanks to the Our World folks for the providing the incentive to do this website and a special "thank-you" to those who of you who continue to read my words. The continued download of "my stuff" makes all the time necessary to build and maintain this "Diving Myths & Reality Site" a personally rewarding effort. While the events of the past cannot be forgotten, forgiven, or ignored (to prevent their reoccurrence), supporters of this site have removed much of my past scuba publishing-related hurt!

Over the last two decades, I have sadly watched the teaching of our sport change ... it used to be dominated by those who loved diving, loved teaching and loved the pleasures the incredible world of Planet Ocean can provide. Way back then, certification was based on acquired knowledge, skill and performance, not a time-clock and an accountant's ledger. There truly was a time when students were people, not consumers and class content was more than liability waivers, agency propaganda and equipment order forms!  Now, it seems, nearly everywhere I turn, I see our sport dominated by those who love money. To me a diving experience based on the provider's loving money is simply not the same as when done by those who love both the sport of scuba diving and the teaching of this incredible, not-like-any-other-human-endeavor activity. This web site, as is all my dive educational endeavors, merely reflects my expression of the way I was taught to dive more than two decades ago. I know of no other way than to emulate my mentors. I sincerely hope my rendering of the ways things once were in scuba diving education  is of benefit to the overall safety and welfare of the recreational scuba community.

May all who read this, dive long and prosper!

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