[inline=left]https://www.scubaboard.com/gallery/data/535/TOTM.gif[/inline] As a new diver, I am perceiving what seems to be an inconsistency among SB members regarding the level of responsibility expected of newly minted OW divers.
On one hand, most SB'ers emphasize that divers are responsible for their own safety. This becomes particularly apparent in the various threads about accidents or dangerous practices among dive ops. Inevitably, some SB veteran will chime in with a comment like "they received their certification, they should have known better than to trust the DM."
On the other hand, some SB'ers (often those very same vets described above) are eager to point out that OW (and even AOW) are just the beginning. Some go so far as to say that they are nothing more than intro courses and that these certifications are meaningless insofar as their ability to determine at least a minimum level of proficiency.
As an SB member, I agree with the former, but as a new diver, I agree with the latter. All else being equal, those who read boards such as this one are, imo, far more aware of best practices, risks, equipment, etc. than those who do not. Therefore, from our perspective as SB members, yes certified divers should be completely responsible for themselves. In fact one could make the argument that even prospective divers who are avid SB readers should know better than to trust their DM/Instructor.
However, as a new diver, I will also say that it is unrealistic and even to some degree elitist to expect new divers to ignore or disobey their DM/Instructor. Try to remember what it was like to be a brand new diver (yeah it's probably been awhile). There is a good chance that most of your dives immediately after getting your c-card were "trust me" dives.
And now for the flame-bait portion of my post: They SHOULD be "trust me" dives unless the new diver is far more knowledgeable than average. Veterans on SB are fond of saying or implying that new divers should heed the advice of those here who have thousands of dives and years of experience under their belt. And that is true enough. I've learned a ton just reading these boards over the past few months. But these same vets castigate new divers who put their trust in their DM, someone who probably has a similar level of experience as the SB vets and are practicing pro's.
The vast majority of divers (old and new) are not active members of SB or other diving forums. To expect a newbie with maybe 10-20 dives to argue about protocol and safety with a DM who has thousands of dives at that location is ludicrous. NOTE: I'm not saying that a newbie disagreeing with the DM is ludicrous - I'm saying it is ludicrous to EXPECT a newbie to have the courage, stubbornness, or confidence to do so. That kind of expectation is just not fair IMO. If a new OW told his DM that the dive plan was bad because of something he read on the internet, he might very well be laughed off the boat.
I do believe that it's good for new divers to confront DMs and dive ops who do not follow protocol. After all, complacency is probably the single biggest root cause of accidents (while I don't have the figures, I wouldn't be surprised if most accidents happen to more experienced divers - say maybe 50 dives or more). But as commendable as it may be for new divers to have the guts to stand up to the pro's, it should not be expected behavior (unless they've been reading SB!).
I don't really have a much of a point - this is just me observing out loud. But on a related note, I would love to see SB'ers stop blaming new divers for just about everything that goes wrong and apply a proportionate blame to the dive ops who take advantage of a new divers' naivete and lead them into potentially dangerous situations. I think we need to recognize that new divers who do not read SB or other forums probably have no clue that "trust me" dives are bad. You can't be responsible for what you don't know (or maybe you can - what do I know?)
Edit: So my 101st post ended up being potential flame-bait. Good thing this was posted in a flame-free zone! HA!
This thread was voted "thread of the month" for the month of May, 2012 by the users of ScubaBoard.