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Room For Muddy-Handed Disciples?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Biollante, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jun 21, 2009
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    Hi All,

    The question on the table as best I can tell from

    Is there room for muddy-handed disciples of Thoreau, as well as many others, in this great hobby?

    Is Ms. Walstad's book full of the application of "scientific methodology”?

    Alternatively, is Ms. Walstad's unable to stand up to "rational critique"?

    Is it even nessasary for a method to stand up to "rational critique" to be valid?

    Phiosophos and aquabillpers seem to have a fundamentally different view of the hobby.

    If I have not fairly defined the questions, I am sorry.


    Edit: Grammer
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Jan 23, 2005
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    I think something as simple as putting the question out there, and speculate some plausible notions is extremely useful.

    She is aware that nutrients such as PO4 and NO3 are not limiting in non CO2 planted tanks, and has been for a long time. We discussed iron, Fe as a potential limiting factor. However, I've been adding higher levels of Fe in my tanks for decades now...........and using ratios, the demand for Fe by algae, is 100X less than that for plants, since I've used a different method for non CO2, using the water column solely, I can get around the factor like sediment bound Fe as a source unavailable to algae, but even in the water column, leaching and access to Fe is rarely every limiting in any freshwater system for algae.

    A quick search pulls up little in shallow wetlands that suggest limitation by Fe unless at extremely low oligotrophic levels and then there are many other factors(like no plants present), and most suggestions point to large ocean gyres 1000's of miles from land, this is particularly to marine phytoplankton/BGA's really.

    Enriching the sea with Fe to sequester CO2 was one idea.

    Still, that's a very different situation in a location that has sediment 4-6 km below the surface, and 2000 miles from land. 1 meter deep of shallow weed infested lake bottom?

    Loaded with Fe.

    Lots of reduced Fe for everyone.

    I think both she and I are both very open to ideas about algae and limitations, I've got a lot of algal background, more than most. She has more pathology and microbiology than myself and a lot of experience at the micro lab having worked there for decades. I think pooling backgrounds, different etc is a wise idea. I or she or anyone for that matter might have not considered or looked at a different question a particularly way or asked a certain question that was relevant.

    Often the questions might be rather simple and obvious, but without a simple answer that stump you.

    In some cases, I might answer one part, say that I was able to consistently induce GW using say NH4Cl4.

    That does not imply that all GW is caused by this(NH4).
    Light intensity is a factor, CO2 is also. High fish loading also was able to induce this as well as staghorn. We might be able to answer some questions, but if it's done correctly, it ends up asking even more questions as each is answered.

    She nor I cannot ever hope to answer every question.
    We might speculate something and then later find that we where wrong or need to re write it and update things.

    I think the answer is 100% yes, she can and does so with an open mind. Realize the book she spent a long time with is over a decade old. She is considering some revisions and 2nd edition, which I strongly encouraged her to do so, while offering some edit/help from my end for questions. I think that would be good, and helpful ot the hobby and to the non CO2 approach/es.

    I'd say yes, you need some basis, something you can show and demonstrate, set up to test the idea, some observation and logic to explain it. I have never bought into the idea of Bio Dynamic Farming. Whacking thinking comes from both the left and right in social and political realms, ADA bought into that garbage selling tourmaline and Penac. Their choice etc, but more marketing to even those folks, even if there's no basis or evidence for it. Never stopped heat cable sales either.

    And that is a good thing.
    By understanding a different view and goal, they themselves have a wider range of understanding and tools to help others with. Even if for them, they prefer say CO2 and the other does not, they still are able to really know what trade offs mean to them and their goals.

    Ed from PPS suggested his way was "better", but offered little as to why. Some cheesy marketing baloney about ecologically better and less is better, but no demonstration that it was actually the case relative to any comparison.

    Non CO2 if you buy into Ed's argument, less light intensity, sediment based ferts, etc would be the logical end to that conclusion, yet inert sediments, and CO2 and low and high lighting are included, which if you look at management goals, is a bunch of Crap.

    You cannot be all things to everyone with a single method. You cannot do it.
    Some seem to try.

    EI is not all things to all folks.
    Nor is non CO2, nor is the water column or sediment only dosing.

    I think there is a strong bias towards CO2 use in the hobby, and without understanding and being able to use a method like non CO2, looking at light and CO2 carefully, we really cannot understand as much ultimately.
    We need to look at the entire range of conditions that can grow plants, from lean/limiting, to extremely rich for light, for CO2, for nutrients.

    I think they both are considering that.
    However, if all you do is look at one side of the coin, you leave yourself wide open............:gw

    I'm not saying either are doing this, rather they are thinking about each trade off and where their own goals lie. This is a process for everyone.

    A rather critical key process, what type of planted tank do I want and desire?
    There's no right or wrong to it except for yourself.

    Tom Barr
  3. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Mar 12, 2009
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    Of all the people to star this thread, I didn't suspect it'd be you, Biollante. you're usually the peace maker ;)

    I'd have to say yes. I may disagree with parts of it, some parts may be outdated but ultimately it justifies its self better than most other books I've read related to aquariums. As Tom mentioned, it's over 10 years old; if you go 10 years back on anyone in this hobby, odds are they have a number of misconceptions that they've eliminated today. Being scientific doesn't mean being right after all, it's just the best tool at hand by leaps and bounds.

    At times everyone is; I'm unaware of any person in history who can't stand up to rational critique in some way. Tom's PO4 experiments discredited the Conlin-Sears paper, Amano's products show faulty methods and at times questionable business ethics and Ole's refutation on allelopathy shows Diana's. This does not eliminate their importance to the hobby.

    I think there's been some confusion here; my issue in the previous thread was not with Diana or her actual work. I'd put a lot more thought into my post if it were, and I would've started it as its own thread rather than as a threadjacking.

    My issue was with a few people who have erroneously picked up her work and bent it out of context because their life is defined by the informal logical fallacy known as appeal to nature. Any individual espousing that something is superior purely because it is natural is one I try to distance myself from for the sake of my own physical and mental health.

    Now this is the question I came here to debate. My answer is both yes and no, depending on the context. I suspect most of you will fall asleep while reading this...

    Objectively, a thing is true regardless of our analysis. If you look at many practices before scientific methodology, you will find that they were not even worthy of being called a thesis, and the antithesis given by others was just as full of logical fallacies. At the same time, some of them worked. More simply put, the truth is not determined by our opinions.

    Subjectively, a concept or practice must undergo rational critique for us to understand how and why it works. We can not say why anything occurs until we understand its inner workings, and can only comment within the context of those working at we understand. As an extension of this, it can honestly be stated that the entirety of our existence is lived as a post hoc fallacy so long as our subjective awareness does not extend to the full bounds of objective reality.

    If someone tosses together a miracle compound that causes perfect plant growth, but has no understanding how it works, I would not deny the results. But first the fact that this compound works would have to be established, which is harder than most people think. Interpreting what has just occurred is the perpetual challenge of our existence.

    No concept should ever be held as immune to criticism because of this subjective/objective difference; not even bivalent logic. Perhaps this is just a sandbox in which is/not happens to apply absolutely within a larger universe that does not adhere to these principles. Being pure conjecture, the probability of this concept should be considered a percentage that is an imaginary number; the smallest possible. All the same, because of our subjective nature it can not be disproven, only regarded as a waste of time given what we have observed so far of reality. In all, bivalent logic stands up pretty well.

    So then, from bivalency onwards we have a system of absolutes. Things are or are not; nothing is "sort of" it is only unarticulated. Logic has the failure of being a self-seeking system; nothing outside of it will ever be found using logic. It will be filed under, "lacking enough empirical evidence to understand." At the same time, we have no better system to replace it.

    From here empiricism is used in an attempt to share our subjective knowledge, logic is applied to spot contradictions based on this shared empirical observation, and presupposition, and through this we filter what is from what is not in order to determine whether a concept is true based on the presented evidence. As this evidence changes, so does our understanding of what is true.

    In summary, a concept must be proven to work for us to trust it enough to use it. What is known of it should be used to determine why it works, and indeed whether it works. Without the first part, there is no rational reason to use a method, without the second nobody can lay claim to how it functions. The first part, in many ways, also necessitates the second in order to determine if a thing works.

  4. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jan 24, 2005
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    I am posting to this topic because I helped to hijack the original thread (which was quite interesting, by the way.) I don't have a lot to add to what has already been posted.

    Having said that, I will continue. :)

    It is unarguable that there is room in this hobby for the technopriests, the muddy-handed folks, and all participants in between. There are scientific truths that can be learned from growing aquatic plants, interesting observations of plant-animal-environmental interactions can be made, and people can just have fun growing things. There is so much here!

    A lot of the basic truths on which we now depend were developed centuries ago, based primarily on observation of what was happening, without there being much knowledge of the "why" part of it. I am thinking about astronomy and mathematics, in particular.

    Darwin was not a scientist when he made his observations about finches; he just wrote down what he saw and speculated as to the cause.

    Arguably, a college physics undergraduate understands more about basic physics than did Einstein 100 years ago, when he presented his theories of relatively.

    Thoreau? He was a hippy philosopher who didn't pay his taxes. But he was a keen observer and wrote very well.

    As I said, I didn't have a lot of new stuff to offer. :)


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