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Gaining Independence

Too often in our fast-paced world there seems to be a tyranny of ignorance. Ignorance masquerading as expertise is pervasive on the internet. We also often hear about it from folks in our classes who are dealing with not only a shrinking workforce, but a workforce with much less experience and a great deal more to do. We know of managers, too many of whom are just being tracked to the next management position are saying “Just get ‘er done!”

Building thermographers are now also experiencing similar tyranny with a dramatic increase in the number of “energy auditors,” many of whom simply don’t know what they are doing. Honestly, some days the “quality index” is quite depressing.

So during this July 4th week, while many of us celebrate the birthday of the United States, I’d encourage you to also celebrate the knowledge and skills you’ve gained, all a testament to your being qualified and, as a result, gaining independence from the tyranny of ignorance!

The professional standards for thermographers all define “qualification” as being based on training, qualifying experience, and some sort of testing or proof of knowledge and skills. In my own experience working with thousands of thermographers over the years, I’ve seen many who had a lot of experience but who simply were not qualified. Although many were otherwise quite bright, they basically kept making the same mistakes over and over, never learning much from them. I’ve also seen a number of very “book smart” people who couldn’t adjust an imager to get a good image!

Fortunately, the vast majority of these folks followed the path of getting some good basic training so that their experience afterwards was reinforced, allowing them to build on what they learned in the classroom. In a fairly short amount of time most of them became truly qualified, either at Level I—where they could gather high-quality data—or at Level II—where they could also interpret that data. What a joy it is to work with true experts!

IR Image of the Flag

“Old Glory” represents just one example of an image that can separate the qualified from those still operating under a tyranny of ignorance. There is no inherent reason a common cloth flag should be anything other than one temperature across all colors since emissivity and background are similar and would have a negligible effect.

There is no reason for a flag to be different temperatures, that is, except if it were in the sun, and then the qualified thermographer would quickly recognize that full spectrum electromagnetic energy from the sun is reflected and absorbed differentially by the dyes in the various colors. The absorbed energy is converted to heat and re-radiated back showing us a flag that, in this particular instance, truly ranges in temperature from 55F/13C on the white portions to 88F/31C on the dark blue portions. Pretty stunning!

So let’s celebrate what we know! And let’s also map out what we want to learn so that we feel more confident in our skills and knowledge, giving our bosses and/or our customers more for their money in a world that only seems to settle for less and less.

The Snell Group’s Thermal/Motor Solutions Web Conference (  is happening right now—July 6-8 (11 AM -2 PM each day)—with nine presentations from true experts about a variety of great topics related to both thermography and motor testing. Maybe this can be part of your declaration of independence from the tyranny of ignorance!

Thinking Thermally,
John Snell—The Snell Group, a
Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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