Worst article ever. Ugh.
Shall I take it piece by piece?
1 - The article implies that accidents are happening due to the bowline "working itself loose if not backed up properly".
As far as I know, that is misdirection bordering on outright lying. I'm unaware of *any* serious accidents caused by such working loose. Ever.
2 - The article states as fact that the complication of the knot and how difficult it is to inspect is the cause of the two recent accidents.
Now there is a pure bold-faced lie. These two accidents were caused because the knot was not tied!
Has *anyone* ever tied their bowline completely, but wrong, had it not inspected, and then fell because of it? Personally, I think this is just made up by trollers and then passed on by unscrupulous journalists.
3 - Next is the appeal to authority: "Know the bowline for what it is: An instrument of death," says Duane Raleigh "Almost every year someone dies because their bowline either came untied because the complicated knot was tied wrong, or because the bowline magically untied itself."
And his proof for this contention? One fall in England where there is no evidence that the knot was tied wrong or "untied itself".
4 - Finally, the article implies that since we are all human, and prone to mistake, the Fig-8 knot is therefore better because it is "as foolproof as possible"
Now that's almost criminal. To suggest that if you make the same mistake with your Fig 8 (start the knot, pass the rope through your harness, but don't finish it) you won't wind up just as dead with the Fig-8 as you would with the bowline couldn't be more wrong.
Believe me, I know. I almost got to watch my partner crater in front of me because of just how "foolproof" the Fig-8 knot is.
Personal story: Last fall I belayed a leader who left the ground with an unfinished fig-8 knot. He had made the eight, put it through his harness (bottom to top), and then somehow got distracted and didn't rethread it. Fortunately he noticed about 15 feet up, since he later fell on the route.
I felt bad, and I wish I had inspected his knot as I usually do. But the fact is, had he been tying in with a bowline, it would have made no difference at all, except that he himself would have been more likely to notice. Think about it.
John Long himself wrote about his accident: "I made the two bowline loops and threaded the rope through my harness, but I didn't bring the rabbit out of the hole and around the tree."
So that means he simply had a straight rope, with no knots or bends, running through his harness when he left the ground. Does the author of the article seriously think that this could ever be missed by a belayer who inspects it? Yeah, because a straight rope is "complicated"
In my case, I did catch a glimpse of something that looked like an 8 with no backup knot, and a long tail. In other words, acceptable, though not ideal. Had I examined it closely, I would have obviously seen that it was not followed through. In John Long's case, if I had made that same glance around a hip I would not have seen anything that looked like a knot, and perhaps that would have been enough of a red flag to go in for a closer look. Certainly it would not have been less
Oh, and for full disclosure, I tie in with a double-bowline with a double fisherman's backup about 90% of the time. The rest of the time I use a fig-8 follow-through.