A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Bill Morris
Date: 2015 May 30, 22:27 -0700
Procrustes was a figure in Greek mythology who would offer passing travellers a bed for the night. There was only one bed on offer. If they were shorter than the bed, he would pull them out to length on a rack and if they were longer than the bed, well, they were in for some amputations. Thus, we have "Procrustean errors" when observations are made to fit the conception of what is thought to be going on.
The navigator of G-ALDN in May, 1952, was in very good company. To quote Dr Maurice Pappworth, writing only a few years later: "In clinical medicine the crime is very often repeated by those who make a diagnosis, often after a snap decision, and without good evidence, and then make the physical signs fit the possibly erroneous diagnosis...The crime of Procrustes is perpetrated far, far more often in clinical medicine than is generally realised..." You have been warned!
Procrustes looks over shoulders in many fields. No matter what your own field of endeavour Procrustes has been there before you, gently massaging observations, ready for you to make them fit "the facts".