The Bovinean Slop Hypothesis

By David H. Glabe, P.E. / April 1, 2009

The what?  The Bovinean Slop Hypothesis. It’s a concept that I have formulated based on an incredible foundation of research in this exciting area of human behavior.  While I have limited my research to the construction industry, I suspect, and there is some profound data supporting this suspicion, that this hypothesis is applicable to other disciplines, including the financial market, politics, and transportation, to name a few.  But I digress.

The Bovinean Slop Hypothesis is not new.  It appears, based on my studies, that Bovinean Slop has been in existence for quite some time, maybe for centuries.  While difficult to precisely prove when Bovinean Slop initially occurred, historical documentation suggests that it has been occurring since at least the eighteenth century; this would mean that it predates Fabricated Metal Frame Scaffold, Tube and Coupler Scaffold, Systems Scaffold, most Suspended Scaffolds and the modern era Aerial Platforms.  This historical documentation also indicates that it probably does not predate wood scaffolds.  This would mean that you will not see any documentary about Bovinean Slop on Modern Marvels anytime soon although I am disappointed the History Channel has not covered it.

Where is the evidence for my claim that Bovinean Slop exists?  Well, sometimes it is blatantly obvious that Bovinean Slop exists and other times it is insidious in how it manifests itself.  On any given day, Bovinean Slop shows up on the road, in the office, on the construction site, in the manufacturing plant, the halls of justice, and yes, in the scaffold yard.  It is not limited to white collar or blue collar workers.  It transcends government and private sector employment.  Let’s face it – you and I may have been guilty of propagating Bovinean Slop to friends and strangers alike.  Frankly it’s one of the reasons we are required to wear boots on jobsites and this example is just one piece of evidence that Bovinean Slop really exists.  You just may not have been aware of Bovinean Slop’s universal existence.

Each day, in magazines and on television we see Bovinean Slop showing up.  Each day we see it on the jobsite.  The presence of Bovinean Slop encourages disputes and arguments, accusations and disgust.  In litigation, supposed experts espouse great quantities of Bovinean Slop in the hopes that the court will accept it without hesitation.  Construction professionals have been known to utilize Bovinean Slop in the course of their work to mask an inadequacy in their knowledge.  Unfortunately this practice only annoys the recipient of the Bovinean Slop and often results in a reciprocal exchange of the slop.  Unfortunately even engineers are not immune to the temptation of utilizing Bovinean Slop.  Safety professionals can, at times, be particularly adept at using Bovinean Slop to their advantage, particularly if the recipient is unfamiliar with the subject matter.

I do know that it is very frustrating to see Bovinean Slop being used, especially in the field of scaffolding.  Far too frequently Bovinean Slop is forced on the recipient with unpredictable results.  Fortunately, for the trained recipient of Bovinean Slop, the tables can be turned, so to speak, and the Bovinean Slop returned in an advantageous way.  However, for the unaware, the gift of Bovinean Slop is appreciated, with unintended consequences.  This of course, leads us to the principle known as the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is a whole other matter that is beyond the scope of this article.  But it cannot be ignored when determining the existence of Bovinean Slop.  One unintended, and common, consequence is the perpetuation of the hypothesis.  It seems that once an individual initiates a use of Bovinean Slop, he or she cannot stop issuing more of the slop.  I dare say that I suspect that some are compelled to continue the use while others, and this is frightening, don’t even know that they are utilizing the Bovinean Slop Hypothesis.  And this is my fear; that Bovinean Slop will continue to grow in use because it is not resisted by sound science and factual evidence.

One development that concerns me is the acceptance of the Bovinean Slop Hypothesis by people who should know better.  As this acceptance increases, it can lead to detrimental results in many fields of operation.  Of great concern to me is the effect this acceptance will have on the scaffold business.  Propagation of Bovinean Slop will erode the effectiveness of standards and regulations that have been carefully developed over many years by qualified professionals.  Scaffold manufacturing, according to my studies, is particularly susceptible to the application of the Bovinean Slop Hypothesis.  This is not good since the scaffold industry relies on the strength of the materials and the accuracy of the data to provide adequate safety for scaffold users.

It is very possible, and probable, that the Bovinean Slop Hypothesis ultimately will become the Bovinean Slop Principle, similar to the “Peter Principle” which suggests that people rise to their level of incompetence.  There is some indication that the Bovinean Slop Hypothesis actually had its’ genesis in the Peter Principle and the practitioners of the Peter Principle utilize the hypothesis to further the cause of the principle.  While this is yet to be proven, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to indicate that this is probably an accurate outcome.

You may think you have never been on the receiving end of Bovinean Slop but beware.  You probably have, you just were not aware of it.  As for the term Bovinean, it is the adjective form of the noun bovine.  Bovines include cattle, and more specifically, bulls.  As for slop, according to Webster’s dictionary, it is “a liquid refuse of a household.”  It also means “gushing language or writing” (such as this article.)  You may be familiar with the term when it is commonly used in its acronym form:  BS.

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