Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 20 comments

As a well-known and often misquoted statement by John Muir tells us: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” Along those lines but nowhere near as cosmic was this aging four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris linearifolia) I found in my part of town on May 21st that had somehow managed to get itself hitched up to a rain-lily (Zephyranthes drummondii).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Many may be shocked to discover that independent researchers are generally only able to replicate the results of about one third of all biomedical and psychological science studies. This means there is currently no reason to give particular credence to the claims or conclusions of any single published claim merely by virtue of peer-review publication. The difficulty of establishing the validity of new alleged discoveries in the social sciences is often not readily apparent to those lacking the disciplinary expertise necessary to critically evaluate them. This problem is exacerbated by recent findings that many public misunderstandings of psychological research stem less from bad reporting or science writing than from scientists themselves overstating and overselling their findings to reporters and to an unsuspecting public.” — Edward Cantu and Lee Jussim, “Microaggressions, Questionable Science, and Free Speech,” Texas Review of Law and Politics, 2021.

If you’d like a more-detailed account of the “irreproducibility crisis,” you’re welcome to read a report entitled “Shifting Sands.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 28, 2021 at 4:34 AM

20 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I occasionally come across something like this but haven’t photographed a two-fer.

    Steve Gingold

    May 28, 2021 at 6:00 AM

    • I’m not surprised that you’ve come across this sort of thing but am surprised that you’ve never photographed any of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2021 at 6:06 AM

      • There have been a few times that I’ve not photographed something that I later regret.

        Steve Gingold

        May 28, 2021 at 6:10 AM

  2. I was more than willing to tie up to your hitching post this morning!


    May 28, 2021 at 6:02 AM

    • Your “hitching post” is clever. And you and Steve G. were almost tied in the timing of your comments.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2021 at 6:10 AM

  3. I have not read the entire report, but have known the problems with biomedical research for a long time. Often, insufficient sample sizes, biased samples, and uncontrollable variables. I read a very interesting research find the other day: placebos seen to help patients even when they know that it is a placebo. Although those results are, themselves, questionable, the human mind seems to have the capacity to influence the outcome of treatments. To complement, another study conducted in Britain, where patients have sometimes to wait considerable time to see a doctor, revealed that many simple health problems go away on their own. Despite all that, I still think that medical research has advanced considerably in the past 100 years. Psychology, well, not so much.

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 28, 2021 at 8:22 AM

    • There are problems with the research itself and, as the article notes, with the way conclusions are disseminated to the public.

      I remember learning from elementary statistics that a result may be statistically significant in a technical sense yet be of little practical significance. The textbook gave the example of an antibacterial cream whose effectiveness proved statistically significant in reducing the mean healing time in small cuts from 7.6 days to 7.1 days. In the real world, though, having a scab fall off half a day sooner when you’re still going to wait a week means almost nothing to most people.

      Picking up on your last point: a few years ago I read 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, which I recommend:

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 28, 2021 at 9:01 AM

      • The example of the healing cream is funny! Thanks for the book recommendation. Although psychology started out as a behavioral science, following standard experimentation protocols with animals, it became popularized within the therapeutic setting by Carl Rogers, with his “humanistic therapy” approach. Then it became somewhat intermingled with the various psychoanalytic schools rooting back to Freud. Psychoanalysis, which grew out of medicine, was never a “science” in the sense we use the word, since it did not and does not follow the scientific method. In my lifetime, I have witnessed the overall adoption of very interesting ideas within psychology without much questioning from the public, many of which have generated therapeutic practices that actually hurt people. I will certainly read the book since I am interested in this subject.

        Alessandra Chaves

        May 28, 2021 at 12:35 PM

        • Based on what you said, I think you’ll enjoy the book. You’re right that many public programs and approaches to problems aren’t grounded on good scientific evidence. The educational establishment has a horrible record of adopting policies with no evidence to support them—or worse, evidence that refutes them. One example is teaching to children’s “learning styles”:


          Steve Schwartzman

          May 28, 2021 at 3:49 PM

          • This is interesting. I had heard about learning styles but never understood how a teacher was supposed to accommodate for each of them in the classroom. “Hands on history”, “tactile math”, “verbal biology”. I loved the example about the anatomy book with fewer diagrams for students who are more verbal. Learning biology requires lots of diagrams and hands on. Lab, lab, lab. Dissect the flower, the insect, go to the field for ecology classes, collect, draw, dissect again. I am not sure how one could teach biology differently.

            Alessandra Chaves

            May 28, 2021 at 5:41 PM

            • What you’ve described from your experience learning to be a biologist is an excellent example showing how some things would be very hard to replace, regardless of students’ preferences. Also, a given person’s personality or preferences may make some fields more suitable to go into than others. Years ago at an exhibition of photographs I struck up a conversation with a guy who told me he’d started out studying biology but the huge number of technical terms he had to memorize turned him off so much that he switched to mathematics.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 28, 2021 at 6:59 PM

  4. Having been hitched for so long I enjoyed looking at your photo this morning.

    Peter Klopp

    May 28, 2021 at 8:51 AM

  5. I love it when plants go rogue–great capture!


    May 28, 2021 at 4:02 PM

  6. Again, I should NOT have read!
    As a horticulturist, AND a writer, I am annoyed that so much of what was written decades ago gets copied by everyone afterward and repeated, and repeated, and repeated, even if it is flat out wrong! I was always taught to not ‘copy’. Oh well. When I write something different from what we are expected to believe, I am told that I am wrong. I am more experienced than most people who write this stuff. Weirdly, people eagerly believe new material if it is relative to marketing schemes.


    May 29, 2021 at 1:32 AM

    • What I’ve been most attuned to for the past year is people’s eagerness to believe things based on ideology. You’re sure right that unsubstantiated claims often get quickly repeated.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2021 at 7:21 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: