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Archive for the ‘ncidq certification licensing’ Category

As a matter of fact, well-behaved people of all genders are rarely the ones who are most instrumental in effecting any sort of important social changes.

It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a reality that it usually takes getting in bad guys’ faces loudly, and sometimes quite aggressively spreading the word, in order to rectify conditions in society and anywhere else that are unjust, discriminatory, and just plain wrong.

Look at the Suffragettes and the civil rights movement as just two examples that were even more extreme in their tactics than any anti-design legislation groups or proponents will ever be. It often takes people who are willing to put their own necks on the line, to risk everything from their reputations to their freedom to their very lives to stand up for what’s right, and protect the rights of all.

It takes repetition and yes, even loudness to get the apathetic to even pay attention, even when it’s their own interests at stake – and make no mistake about it, legions of designers have been incredibly apathetic about this issue, especially those who are most likely to be affected. Once they hear about the realities, though, they are sitting up and taking notice in droves.

Following my post about the Michael Smith situation, I received an email yesterday from a colleague who shall of course remain unidentified, criticizing me for essentially being as outspoken as I have been against design legislation, telling me my behavior is “unprofessional”, as well as “abrasive [and] combative”, for posting about it the way I do, which I’ve done in various venues.

I’m certainly not trying to make any kind of history, and frankly, I’d much rather spend the time I spend working against legislation on a whole lot of other things, including building my own design practice and the new patient advocacy business I want to start, taking care of my very sick brother and father, and blogging about the more fun aspects of interior design, but there comes a time in life when you’ve got to speak up for what you believe is right, and to protect the rights of others, even if the issues at hand will not affect you personally. And even if it brings the wrath of others down upon you.

I reached that point about a year ago, after several years of debating back and forth about the value of legislation, and studying both sides of the issue in great depth. I’ve written extensively about my thoughts on this subject both on this blog and elsewhere, including some of the listings on the CADAL and IDPC websites. Not all are attributed to me, but my thoughts are there. Eventually, I’ll get the CADAL site updated with more of the most current information.

Unfortunately, more sedate and quiet methods of trying to dissuade ASID and its legislative partners from their destructive paths have not worked. Until roughly sometime in the last year or so, their actions went unopposed, and people who disagreed with them had little recourse, as well as few others with whom to even discuss their dissent.

But now, there is a very strong grassroots opposition movement that is gaining steam nationwide, dedicated to spreading the word about how legislation is anticompetitive and only serves to harm the very designers and even the public whom its proponents claim to want to be protecting. The word is getting out – the truth is getting out. And there’s been an avalanche of support from every corner.

And the word must be spread. IDPC has been doing an amazing job of reaching a large segment of the design community, especially Allied ASID members and students, but there are still tens of thousands of others who need to know what’s going on, that will affect their livelihoods. Joni at Cote de Texas has done a bang-up job of alerting a lot of people to the issues and how they are playing out in Florida in her superb post “ASID: An Agency Out of Control” and other bloggers such as Laurie at Kitchen Design Notes have also done a huge amount to help. Patti Morrow of the Interior Design Protection Council is tireless in sending out email blasts, which are archived at http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs060/1102107213116/archive/1102156670830.html and there are dozens of other equally dedicated people who are posting all over the blogosphere and Twitterland about the issues, many of them in terms far less complimentary than any I have used. At least one has posted a quite obscene (although wickedly creative and funny) image graphically displaying her feelings.

And frankly, for every person I’ve encountered who disagrees with what we have to say, I’ve met many, many more who are applauding our willingness to stand up and put it all on the line, to fight for every designer. Every day, we are hearing from more and more people thanking us for the work we do, for helping them realize that they are not alone, and that they can fight back – and they can prevail.

In the past 2-3 years alone, something like 50 separate pieces of legislation have been voted down, vetoed, struck down as unconstitutional, or otherwise legally challenged or eliminated, because legislatures all over the country are recognizing that there’s simply no just rationale for this kind of law.

The Emperor has no clothes; we are just pointing that out – and we are winning, because the truth speaks for itself, and almost always triumphs, once people’s eyes are opened.

I used to think I’d miss out on a lot of networking and working with nice and talented people by not being associated with ASID, and the loss of some of the relationships I’d built with other members as a result of our finding ourselves on opposite sides of this issue has definitely saddened me, but the reality is there are thousands of incredibly nice and extremely talented designers all over the place who are not affiliated, and I find that I’m just forging solid relationships with others instead.

If spreading the word about the reality of what’s happening in our profession, exposing the real agenda of an organization that ought to be looking out for its members instead of using their own money against them, and working hard to protect the rights of all designers to practice is unprofessional, then I accept the charge and will wear that label proudly.

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Oh no, an unlicensed designer is going to decorate the White House – heaven forbid! Quick, get out the sandbags; the Obamas aren’t going to be safe in their own home, and neither will the public!

Or at least that’s what ASID’s Michael Alin would apparently like President and Mrs. Obama and the rest of the country to believe.

Feh.

As everyone already knows, the extremely talented and world famous California designer Michael S. Smith has been tapped by the Obamas as their designer for their private White House quarters. He couldn’t possibly be a better choice, as ample other posts in the blogosphere have already detailed and dissected (see Patricia Gray, The Peak of Chic, and Cote de Texas, among many others). Gifted, personable, with a versatile of-the-moment style that’s incredibly well-suited to a young, modern family in the US, Smith’s selection fits well with everything we know about our new First Family to date, and will creatively meld a contemporary aesthetic and lifestyle with the traditions of the White House in an utterly fresh, uniquely American way.

What’s particularly interesting, however, is that, as best as I have been able to determine, Smith is not only not licensed in the District of Columbia (one of only 4 jurisdictions in the US that requires licensure for interior designers to practice our trade), but is probably not even eligible, according to current ASID and NCIDQ standards, as I was unable to uncover any evidence that he possesses a degree in interior design. Despite this, he is clearly acceptable to the Obamas – and to all of the security people surrounding the more powerful person in the country.

As well he should be, because Smith is bloody brilliant – and is the embodiment of all of the reasons that the ASID argument that only licensed/certified/ASID and NCIDQ-credentialed designers know what they’re doing is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now, in reality, the White House is technically on Federal land, not District land, and so licensure would not be required in any case, but ASID is still obviously upset about the Obamas hiring someone who is unlicensed anywhere – and clearly not a member of ASID, according to a search of their website. You can readily see this from the fatuous letter Interiors & Sources published from Michael Alin of ASID in their most recent issue, exhorting the Obamas to consider the health and safety of their family and visitors first and foremost – as if their safety has not already been more than amply assured by legions of security and safety experts.

If these professionals, charged with keeping the First Family safe, don’t feel there’s a safety risk in allowing the Obamas to select a designer without the “formal” ASID-dictated credentials that Alin and his minions tout, then surely the hundreds of millions of other citizens of our country who want freedom of choice in selecting a designer for their own homes and offices are not at any greater risk without legislation to “protect” them.

Funny how ASID is always screaming bloody murder about unlicensed designers specifically endangering the public all over the Web and email, and interfering in many designers’ lives and livelihoods – but they didn’t even directly bring up the question of Smith’s credentials or licensing status up in this letter. Could it be that they realize how utterly ridiculous it would make them look if they were to blather on about how Smith isn’t licensed – to the President of the United States, who just selected him? And how overtly critical of Obama’s judgment that would obviously make them seem? What is Alin seriously expecting? That the Obamas will read his letter, and then suddenly decide, uh oh, they’d better find another designer from within the ASID ranks, because the almighty ASID (which is unknown to most people) has hinted not at all subtly that the President and his wife are not adequately protecting their family because of their current selection?

Designer Walter B. Peterson of Philadelphia-based Weixler Peterson Luzi Interiors responds to the editors in more detail about how ridiculous this argument is, and how the Obamas’ selection demonstrates how utterly unnecessary interior design legislation is:

————————————————————————————————————————-

Mr. Robert Nieminen, Editor

Mr. Jamie Nicpon, Managing Editor

INTERIORS & SOURCES Magazine

615 Fifth Street, SE

Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Dear Sirs:

Michael Alin’s “Letter to President Obama” published in Interiors & Sources is presumptuous and embarrassing. Doubtless his advice is unsolicited, as the President’s and First Lady’s selection of the noted interior designer Michael S. Smith already satisfied their requirements in this area. Additionally, Mr. Alin’s expressed concern for the First Family’s environment – “modified to be safer and healthier” – rings hollow. One would be hard pressed to imagine any other head of state whose every environment, including the newest limousines he rides in, is any safer or healthier than that of the President, and any consideration of making the White House safer, healthier or more accessible would be handled by a team of government architects, conservators and the Secret Service, not an interior designer. But it is Mr. Alin’s suggestion that they consider the “health, safety and welfare” of their children before engaging an interior designer that is most offensive. Like all good parents, the Obamas have been taking such considerations into account since before their two lovely daughters were even born. Moving into the White House is the safest and healthiest move any family could make on this planet regardless of whom they hire to design it, and for Mr. Alin to imply otherwise is patently absurd.

Lastly, the fact that Michael S. Smith is not licensed to practice interior design in Washington, D.C. seems not to have altered the First Family’s decision to hire him, nor does it seem to upset the district’s legal authorities, who on any other resident’s unlicensed designer would doubtless impose punitive fines and possibly imprisonment. Given the round-the-clock concern for the President’s and First Family’s safety, the appointment of Michael S. Smith to design their most private living quarters sends a clear message to every legislature and court in the nation that interior design licensing is a bogus act, completely unnecessary to protect the public’s health and life safety, and therefore nothing more than an attempt by a tiny minority of ASID’s interior designers to create an exclusive monopoly in the marketplace of creative ideas and design.

Sincerely,

Walter B. Peterson

WEIXLER PETERSON LUZI
Exceptional Interiors ~ Extraordinary Living
232 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
T: 215-592-9570 – F: 215-592-4782 – C: 215-880-3955
www.wplinc.com

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Please see the No Design Legislation blog at http://nodesignlegislation.wordpress.com for further information, extensive links about fighting interior design legislation in all affected states, and to discuss the issues. Please post your legislation-related comments there.

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Concerned about your right to practice interior design anywhere in the country? Think you’re alone?

No, there’s a very strong grassroots opposition movement well underway spearheaded by the Institute for Justice and the Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), and a wide range of individual grassroots organizations in affected states – and we’re having huge success blocking anticompetive laws, and in some cases, having existing ones overturned.

All this takes money, though. ASID reportedly has spent nearly $6,000,000 to the date of this post on their campaign to disenfranchise the majority of designers and has an army of paid lobbyists. We’re winning, as my previous post indicated, and expanding like crazy as money comes in to pay the support staff, despite being all volunteers, and operating on donations.

Join IJ and IDPC today to help fight anti-competitive legislation nationwide, and preserve interior designers’ right to make a living at our chosen profession. Please also see the No Design Legislation blog for a list of links to individual known state grassroots opposition organizations.

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We just received a copy of the letter below sent to ASID Headquarters. Thanks to the Interior Design Freedom Coalition http://www.interiordesignfreedom.org/blog.html for posting it.

Please see the links on this blog in the Interior Design Legislation Opposition section to the Interior Design Protection Council and the Interior Design Freedom Coalition for more information on licensing efforts and how to protect your real right to practice in your state, and how ASID efforts will put thousands of designers out of business.

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ASID RESIGNATIONS
-GROUP ONE-

December 19, 2008

Michael Alin, Executive Director
The American Society of Interior Designers
608 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, D.C., 20002

Dear Mr. Alin:

Over the last several years, we have watched as ASID has recklessly spent our dues and MANDATORY legislative assessments on a failed policy falsely proclaiming to “raise the level of the profession” and to cull what you have decided are the “real designers” from those not following the path you dictate. The legislation you support has requirements so restrictive that most designers would not be able to comply and will therefore be denied the right to practice.

Over and over… we have watched as ASID’s president, members and board repeatedly mislead their own ASID colleagues about the EFFECT of legislation on our right to practice, while currying support from the very designers who would be put out of business by your legislative actions. And we have listened as Allied Members were described as the “Cash Cows” of the organization – too stupid to understand that we were being used to fund our own demise.

Over and over… we have watched as ASID betrayed its own ethics to push its own agenda – an ego-driven agenda that has the potential to destroy more than half of its own membership.

Over and over… we have listened as ASID members said sweetly, “We’re not trying to put you out of business.” [Subtext: as long as you forego your practice to go back to school for at least 2 years, do a supervised internship with an NCIDQ certified designer – if you can find one who also happens to be hiring – and intern from two to five years while being paid virtually nothing; then if you have any money left, pay about $2000 to take step workshops, purchase study materials, and take and pass the NCIDQ test (which is rarely passed on the first attempt), and then prove to the satisfaction of your own competitors that you actually are a designer, and comply with any regulations they happen to write.] But nobody’s trying to put you out of business; after all, there’s grandfathering. And from what we’ve seen of the way “grandfathering” is often written into the legislation, that’s just as bogus a claim as the rest of the pro-legislation argument.

Legislators have told us that representatives (either ASID and/or IIDA members) have misrepresented the content, objectives and design support for their legislation while governors of four states have clearly understood it to be anticompetitive and protective.

In states where practice acts have been enacted, designers have suffered terribly – persecuted for what they have done successfully for years, sustaining huge fines and legal fees for miniscule “infractions” and in some cases, bankrupted and driven out of the state in order to earn a living.

Florida designers bear witness to the travesty of your actions, and we hear more and more from them every day. The disgraceful behavior of Florida ASID members who deliberately work to expose and report their own members, as well as others, and help to put them out of business tells us what we need to know about ASID as an organization and about how legislation really works to
destroy designers’ rights to practice. And Florida is not the only state where this happens or has happened: try Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Connecticut and others.

There are estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000 interior designers in practice in the U.S. today. ASID claims membership of only about 20,000 practicing designers, the majority of
whom don’t even care about “raising the level of the profession”. Many are not even aware of your legislative agenda. They just want to practice design successfully as they always have.

We have personally spoken to Allied designers all across the country, and have found the vast majority to be opposed to your actions. As we’ve said before: the only designers who benefit from your tactics are the so-called professional designers who have passed the NCIDQ – and those are few and far between.

You do not represent independent designers as you have claimed, hence the title independent. They don’t want ASID’s interference in their right to practice, and have told us that they resent ASID’s efforts to dictate policy in which they have no say. Even ASID members are not welcome to disagree with your policies as the invitation to the Arkansas conference clearly shows, where attendees were carefully vetted to make sure that there would be no discordant voices.

ASID HAS NO RIGHT AND NO MANDATE TO DICTATE TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DESIGNERS ALL ACROSS THIS COUNTY WHO WILL BE ALLOWED TO PRACTICE AND WHO WILL NOT. YOUR LEGISLATION IS BEING DEFEATED BECAUSE DESIGNERS DO NOT SUPPORT YOUR OBJECTIVES.

It is clear to us that ASID no longer advocates for all of its members. This is illustrated in the make-up of the board which is ponderously commercial, in the membership of your pro-legislation coalitions across the country, where the majority are often commercial designers and in your undue influence in the schools, where students are pushed toward architectural/commercial design and where residential design gets short shrift. Students have told us that ASID has misled them, pushing them into commercial/architectural design on the premise that jobs at the commercial or architectural firms would be awaiting them when they graduate, and that ASID would help them get those jobs.

Even before the economic downturn, commercial jobs were very hard to come by – by ASID’s own statistics, only 15% of the market – and the few students who manage to land those jobs do so without ASID’s promised-but too often undelivered assistance. Many students, unable to secure those jobs have wound up selling commercial furniture and other commercial products. And most residential designers cannot hire them, as designers who have, have told us that they can draft, but cannot do other things that are crucial to residential design.

ASID’s preferential conduct is also apparent in the way Allied Members are treated on the national website’s “Find a Designer” page, where potential clients searching for referrals are offered a choice of “Show Professionals Only” (listed as the default) vs. “Show All Practitioners” which they have to search for [note: this appears to just have been changed]. This is insulting and clearly shows a bias toward “professional” members, which is especially unjustifiable considering that many so-called “Professional” designers have never passed the NCIDQ test and have just been allowed in. Allied Members pay the majority of dues and mandatory legislation fees, are no less professional in their work, and do not deserve a lesser marketing effort than any other members.

Additionally, by promoting its single-entry method as the one true path to design, ASID has created a rift between practicing designers and those who take ASID’s EEE path, with the younger designers evincing rudely worded disrespect for their more experienced elders – a situation which is not conducive to job creation.

Interior Design is a creative field. Yet ASID is determined to legislate creativity out of it by restricting the many paths of entry into the field that have nurtured that creativity and vision for years, producing brilliant designers – down to one path that is engineered to produce – engineers.

In a failing economy such as this, ASID should be using all its resources to support and market designers, not to destroy them through legislation. And make no mistake, we completely understand your actions and your intent.

We are ashamed and deeply disappointed by this organization. We can no longer support a Society that deliberately destroys its own membership and endangers the future of design and designers in its unending desire for power and dominance. And because of your exclusive policies, we know there is no hope of changing the trajectory of your actions.

ASID had a slogan: PROTECTING YOUR RIGHT TO PRACTICE. You are, in fact, subverting your own raison d’etre by deliberately trying to destroy our right to practice. And that is unethical, unconscionable and unacceptable.

And so we are resigning.

Jacqueline Bazaar, #1533586, Pennsylvania
Margaret H. Benson, #1504190, Texas
Gayle Beyer, #1519494, Colorado
Loraine Brown, #1250453, Georgia
Christine Colman, #1534167, Washington
Ellen Fernandez, #1239917, Maryland
Diane Foreman, #61436, Oregon
Debbie Gersh, #1485135, Texas
Noreen Dunn Gottfried, #1502827, Pennsylvania
Carol Gumpert, 1550669, California
Karen K. Hartley, #75601, Georgia
Nancy Hartsing, #1559067, Arizona
Henrietta Heisler, #1859365, Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Kauermann, #97269, Pennsylvania
Nancy Phillips Leroy, #1231856, Pennsylvania
Christie Meehan, #1201627, Pennsylvania
Tonya Morrison, 1487732, Pennsylvania
Jayne Rosen, #78935, Pennsylvania
Rebecca Ruediger, #1250458, Missouri
Carly Sax, #1500172, Illinois
Anne-Marie H. Schimenti, #1504255, Florida
June Shea, #1486996, Virginia
Nadia T. Tanita, #1542001, Hawaii
Terri Temple, #18099, Connecticut
Mary Sue B. Wiedmer, #1215131, Pennsylvania

Resigned earlier this year for the above reasons:

Janice Onsa, Pennsylvania, former Allied Member
Diane Plesset, Oregon CMKBD, CID #5818, C.A.P.S., former ASID

cc: Bruce J. Brigham, President
Board of Directors:
Bruce Goff
Charrisse Johnston
Doug Hartsell
Lisa Henry
Mary G. Knopf
Rachelle Schoessler Lynn
Stephanie Clemons
Sybil J.B. Van Dijs
According to a survey by Interior Design Magazine as quoted in the New York Times, January 29, 1987

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Long before I became a designer myself, I believed that ASID membership was an indicator of quality and professionalism, and that one should only hire ASID designers. I grew up on the client side, and also around the professional side of the industry, with a father and uncle who were in the business, and was spoonfed this point of view for decades.

Then I went to design school myself, and joined ASID as a student member, and let’s just say that my opinion of the organization and its value to anyone, consumer or designer alike, took a serious nosedive for a lot of reasons. Continuing on as an allied member at the request of a former employer, I’m afraid to say that I’ve only come to see an even darker side and more reasons why such membership is not of value to either designers or the general public, and have thus let my membership lapse.

In reality, ASID membership is only one way to demonstrate one’s qualifications to practice interior design – and it’s a pretty iffy one at that. Contrary to popular belief, and the hype that ASID aggressively promotes, entry standards for organizational membership are actually quite low, and in absolutely no way say anything about how good the designer actually is.

A very high percentage of current professional ASID members don’t have the educational background themselves that they are now touting as the prerequisite for being considered a “professional” and trying to foist off on everyone else as a minimum standard. Several years ago, when the entry requirements were changed, they grandfathered in everyone who was already a member who wanted to remain a member, pretty much based solely on how long they’d been in practice.

To join ASID at this point, all you have to do is have a couple of years of design education, fill out a form, and send in a large check along with a copy of your transcript to prove you put in some time – and to keep sending them big checks every year. There are no references required, no other validation of skills and qualifications.

To even be a full professional member, all you have to add is passing the NCIDQ, a certification test that has been widely challenged as not even validly testing the material it purports to test for, and which has a very high failure rate, at least in part because it simply does not test for much of relevance to most designers. Most of what the NCIDQ tests for relates to commercial design matters that most residential designers will never need to know – and the reality is that most ASID members are primarily residential designers. Until this year, 2008, there wasn’t even any requirement for supervised work experience to qualify to take this exam, so there have been no controls at all on the nature of the experience one has to have – or the quality of the work produced – in order to be eligible.

As we all know, any other form of certification, licensing, building codes, etc. also represents a lowest common denominator, and the reality is that the very best practitioners in every field have standards that far exceed the minimums set by professional organizations or even state licensing boards. Many of the very best practitioners eschew membership in these organizations for many reasons, including the fact that they fully recognize that membership in them is actually completely meaningless.

Yes, the most that membership in ASID proves is that the member meets a minimum standard – and in many cases, it doesn’t even prove that much! This is hardly any kind of proof of excellence that a consumer ought to rely on!

What’s more, if my experience in two different schools is any indication, the schools don’t even teach most of the material the NCIDQ purports to test for! If you want to learn how to be a good designer, you’ve got to be a real self-starter and do a lot of individual research and investigation, on an ongoing basis, reading voraciously on your own, going to CEU classes whether you’re required to or not for professional designations, asking lots and lots of questions of vendors, contractors, and other professional resources. No degree can possibly prepare a person fully to practice in this profession – it’s sweat equity that builds the qualifications, just being out there in the trenches. Formal education can certainly be a good thing and add a lot, but it also often tends to seriously stifle creativity. Thus, it’s certainly no panacea and should not be a sole prerequisite for selecting a designer – nor should seeking one with professional designations that rely on such backgrounds. No list of initials following a person’s name can possibly indicate their dedication to excellence and ongoing learning, or their taste, creativity, or ability to pull off whatever a client needs to have done – but careful interviewing of the prospective designer will certainly bring all of that out, as will checking their references and looking at their work.

In reality, there are many superb interior designers who you won’t find if you try to look them up through ASID, even if they are actually members, but you will certainly find them published in all the major magazines, creating the best rooms in local showhouses, working for the biggest and wealthiest clients – and through word of mouth when speaking with other clients who know good design and good designers when they see them.

What’s more, even if a designer is a member, you may not find them on the ASID website.  While I was a member, they didn’t even bother to list me (or a number of other allied members whom I know) in their “find a designer” sections, so so much for the value of membership to the individual designer as a marketing tool.

Since you won’t even find a lot of these people who do still meet these standards even by looking at their website, whether they are actually members or not, do your own research, and find the best designer for you by other means so that you will have the widest possible selection.

It would be inadvisable to hire any designer you don’t already know something about without fully investigating their portfolio and references, asking what they do to stay up to date, and seeing if you just plain get along with them – the very same investigative process any well-informed consumer would follow when selecting any kind of professional or tradesperson to do work for them.

According to recent estimates, only about 10% of the ASID membership at most holds professional status in the organization – and that represents at most approximately 3% of all interior designers in the country. Design schools are graduating many, many more designers every year, though, and that’s not even counting the thousands who come to the industry through myriad other backgrounds that qualify them just as fully, if not more so, and clearly, most of them are not joining ASID. Even if you do decide to hire an ASID designer, you should still check them out thoroughly, so why limit your options so much?

The truth is that quality will show, with or without membership in organizations like ASID, and a client who decides to limit himself to ASID designers only may well miss out on finding the perfect designer for himself, just by looking at an extremely artificially-narrowed field of choices.

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