Bernard Erlin
Bernard Erlin

Who is “Seemore Guessless”? What is “Seemore Guessless”? Where is “Seemore Guessless”? In an ad for microscopes, the pitch was “See More—Guess Less,” using a microscope, of course. But microscopes only amplify what is already there—and isolate the important things from the minutia of available facts. Hence, our hero Seemore Guessless. But those few words, see more—guess less go even farther—to the very pit of many things, from rehabilitation to forensic evidence. Because the more you know, the better position you are in to correctly interpret what you are evaluating. Seemore Guessless is, of course, knowledge, and knowledge provides tidbits of information that when pieced together present connecting links that result in both a better understanding of events that transpired and successful evaluation. There are no missing links only connecting links, some of which are missing.

The other end of Seemore Guessless is properly weaving the tidbits of information to explain what went on, what is going on, and project, if necessary, what will go on—these can be called interpretations. It has been our experience that both knowledge and interpretations are sometimes lacking or overdone in investigative processes and frequently are under- or over-interpreted, sometimes beyond even logical imagination. As an example, someone interpreted that continued hydration of portland cement increases porosity. The opposite actually is true, porosity decreases as hydration advances. Don't argue with us about that, because we didn't invent that physical fact. Rather, look into the literature where you will find that as hydration progresses absorption decreases, permeability decreases, porosity decreases, and strengths increase. These can't result if hydration increases porosity.

William Hime
William Hime

Facts that provide knowledge are sometimes difficult to obtain, especially from concrete. There was a case where a ready-mix company was accused of not adding an air-entraining admixture because laboratory analysis failed to detect one in the concrete. As a matter of fact, the analytical report states, “Based upon our laboratory analysis, an air-entraining chemical was not detected.” The statement was true; however, the analysis made was the wrong one because the analyst was unaware of the correct method and procedure needed to isolate components of the admixture. It was another travesty of justice in the making until someone (fortunately knowledgeable) read the method and procedure details described in the report and uncovered the error.

Similar misfortunes are not unusual when dealing with portland cement-based products where the analyst is not adequately tuned, even when he reports using the latest high-tech equipment. We find that sometimes the analyst is intoxicated with such enthusiasm that it overshadows reality. Entrained air voids have been mistakenly identified as fly ash; fly ash has been mistakenly identified as entrained air voids; dicalcium silicate, usually a major portland cement component, has been misidentified as fly ash—and by well-educated people who, unfortunately, are novices to the mysteries of concrete and concrete-making materials. Portland cement-based paste has been identified as a matrix enriched in calcium oxide, and granite and gabbro coarse aggregates have been called highly siliceous filler material, without any reference that they are aggregates.

These travesties are not unusual and sound authoritative because they rely on analysts being knowledgeable about what they are doing. Certainly, in many instances, they are doing the best they can, but that is not always good enough. So, remember “Seemore Guessless” (or “See More—Guess Less”) and Seemore's relatives, knowledge and interpretation, and try not to get caught in someone's pit of exuberance or overexaggeration without having a true expert in the field double-check their relationships. In a previous column article we said, there are two things money can't buy: poverty and experience—that still holds true.