Your post contrasting anecdotal information with "scientific"
information struck a nerve. Since I got into private industry, I have
been surprised by the way many people make important decisions (and
mistakes) on the basis of anecdotal information and preconceived ideas.
> In sustainable agriculture, we place a high value on experiential
> information, field observations, indigenous knowledge, anecdotal
This is true in all applied science, especially agriculture, since we
don't understand very much. The experiential part is what is important.
Good ideas and appealing models are a dime-a-dozen, but what is
important is what works in practice. The conventional wisdom is
> Traditionally, the research/extension community has viewed "anecdotal
> information" as second or third class information because Extension
> built its reputation on "research-based information".
The research/extension community feels this way because it is true.
Anecdotal information really is unreliable. What I assume you mean by
anecdotal information is hearsay evidence. Like: "Farmer Joe said his
uncle applied wood ashes to control rootworm."
> there is a need to include current information even though the
> information does not
> derive from research and extension journals; i.e., sequential spraying
> of biodynamic preparations, foliar sprays to increase the brix level,
> organic potting mixes with growth promoting rhizobacteria and
> mycorrhizal fungi
When slick marketing enters the picture, it gets even worse. There is
no end to the biodynamic/enzymatic/microbial stuff people are trying to
sell. Much of it comes with scientifically reasonable models, but only
with anecdotal information and possibly contrived data. People are
susceptible to being swindled, when they strongly want to believe it
works. Don't get me wrong, some of these things probably do work. But
they need to be tried out by a critical community. There is safety in
> When presenting information that includes data and observations
> from a wide variety of sources -- peer-reviewed journal article,
> on-farm research, anecdotal -- there is a need to qualify the
> source. This is a delimna that faces all information providers, not
> just Extension.
Exactly. And anecdotal information is unreliable, because people,
acting individually, are unreliable.
> ** Journal Article
> High confidence, limited field experience
IMO half the journal articles are either methodologically flawed or
irrelevant. And much of the rest are not very reliable because they are
limited in scope.
> ** On-farm research
> Good confidence, good field applicability
I agree, but it has to be done well. Even better are multilocation
> ** Anecdotal
> Fair confidence, high farmer experience index, good idea to try out
> on small on-farm plots before full-scale implementation
I agree, these things should be carefully tried out in the field.
> Pluralism of Knowledge Systems -- Diverse by equally valid
> Ayurveda - Siddha - Unani - Folk - Homeopathy - Allopathy
> Hierarchy of Knowledge Systems -- Only reductionist methods
> of western science treated as valid
> Allopathy = Scientific
> Folk - Unani - Siddha - Ayurveda - Homeopathy = Non-Scientific
This pop-philosophy is common in the eco-activist community, but IMO it
is mistaken. Reality is one. We may not know very much about reality,
but the idea that different modes of reality exist to which different
modes of knowledge acquisition apply is dualistic crap.
I believe there is a strong parallel between the unreliability of the
primary scientific literature (journal articles) and anecdotal
information in the sustainable ag community. The crucial next step is
evaluation and critique of the primary information by a critical
community. There are examples of how this process works well in the ag
science community. Can these same institutions work for the sustainable
ag community? I would like to see integration of the communities, and
increased relevance of the ag science community.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command