The Geophysical Professional—Worldwide
If today’s geophysicist (and tomorrow’s) is to deal successfully with “challenge and change,” he must have a supporting professional infrastructure that allows a free exchange of ideas with his peers. This infrastructure provides him with a sounding board by which his views can be accessed and either accepted, corrected, or discarded. Professional societies have been created for this specific purpose.
They sponsor meetings, at which technical papers are presented. They publish journals by which papers of technical merit can be both disseminated and archived. They provide continuing education for their members by sponsoring topical seminars and technical courses. As an aside, many societies allow expositions of industry wares to be displayed at their conventions. These become a major source of income for the society along with advertising revenue in the journals. Even though the expositions are commercial in nature to the exhibitors, they contain an enormous technical content by the very nature of the products displayed and thus complement the role of the society and are consistent with the rules of nonprofit organizations.
Professional societies are not guilds that protect their members from outsiders. One does not have to be a member of a geophysical society to practice the profession, even though many in the profession try diligently to convince states to pass laws requiring restrictive registration. Some consider it a badge of honor to be a registered geophysicist, as if this confers competence. Others believe they must be registered to attain equality with geologists or engineers, which seems to