Disclaimers and the like

Ross Gilmore

Indulge me in a personal rant, and a rally cry of support for a moment. Ross Gilmore (aka “Wood Trekker”), a blogger I read from time to time, has posted something that’s gotten my blood boiling a bit. His posts usually deal with outdoor pursuits and bushcraft, axe-handling and history, and all sorts of good subjects that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. This is the first time I’ve been saddened by reading something he’s written, because this time, the post was a he felt the need to publish a disclaimer on his site.

Warnings and disclaimers play a necessary role in some situations. If you have something that looks like a railing, but it’s not load-bearing, I’d appreciate a sign letting me know. If there’s a side-effect to a medication, tell me about the possible consequences. But there should never be a need for an individual to tell others, “this might not work for you, even if you see me doing it,” or “I’ve said this. It’s my opinion.” It just sounds ridiculous on the face of it.

Disclaimers like this are never needed for those that have common sense. I would have thought that outdoor enthusiasts are a bit more of a practical, get’er done crowd, and wouldn’t share this trait with knee-jerk litigious sorts. For what it’s worth, I think it’s mostly true — there are always exceptions, however. In this case, it may have started from a difference of opinion and personality, and devolved into a “you stepped on my toes,” retaliation, and someone started looking for a thread to pull, but it’s unfortunate to perpetuate the attitude that people have to be warned about every little detail, instead of being held responsible for their own actions and learning.

Too many people have a mindset that someone else is required to look after them, to make sure they’re safe. It’s a mentality that rewards a sense of entitlement without accountability, and it’s the main reason there are so few people with general, self-sufficient skills left.

Patently obvious disclaimers like the one Ross felt he needed to post are only necessary for people that are so quick to hand their thinking over to someone else. I already have someone to blame if I do something wrong — myself.

Those unable or unwilling to see that, even when looking at it as a hobby, have missed the point of bushcraft and the outdoors.

So, on behalf of nobody else but me (of course), but hopefully echoed by many other voices, no disclaimer is necessary, Ross, and none will ever be.

  • http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com Ross

    Thank you. I really appreciate what you did here. 

  • Graham

    This is just a sign of the times .With the more and more people not taking responsibility for ones actions .

  • weekendwoodsman

    “Disclaimers like this are never needed for those that have common sense.” Exactly. The problem is that there are a lot of retards out there who don’t have common sense, and that’s just how it is. The sad truth is that disclaimers are necessary in this day and age. Not for me or you, but for those who go around blaming everyone else for their mistakes/accidents/failures etc.

  • http://awordinthewoods.com Mike Zimmermann

    It’s just so unfortunate, given the subject matter and interest in this case. One of the core natures of bushcraft that Ross puts forward is the exact opposite of this: a focus on self-sufficiency. This requires adaptability, awareness and learning, and making responsible, accountable decisions for oneself.

  • http://thebloke.co.nz/ Kerry Adams

    Unfortunately, not everyone out there is capable of thinking for themselves. The key to any of this information available on online, is to read it, digest it, combine it with what you already know, and decide for yourself if it makes sense. More than anything else, if people would just stop and think about the situation they are in, many issues wouldn’t develop.