Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 1st, 2021

Portraits from our yard: episode 3

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In our yard we have three stands of Turk’s cap bushes, Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii. I don’t know if someone planted them before we moved in 17 years ago or if they sprang up on their own. I’ve found Turk’s cap growing wild in the woods in our neighborhood, so both possibilities are plausible.

The top portrait reveals the interesting “architecture” surrounding a bud. The second photograph shows the characteristic rich red of a Turk’s cap flower beginning to emerge from a bud.

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I recently came across the April 19th article “America’s Smug Elite Is Harming Our Kids,” by Rutgers professors Jacob Hale Russell and Dennis Patterson. Here are two paragraphs that will give you a feel for the tenor and contents of the article. (Links within the quoted passages were in the original.)

This disdain for healthy skepticism, a normal part of functioning science and democracy, is corrosive to public trust and impedes the accumulation of knowledge. A climate of overconfidence makes it both more likely that we will adopt bad policy and harder to fix our missteps. Reversals of conventional wisdom are, for better or worse, inevitable in science. We have had many reversals of official positions on COVID-19—from the usefulness of masks to which medications work to guidance about school openings—and will likely see more as evidence continues to come in. The problem is that our current climate locks us into polarized mindsets, which makes it harder to recategorize “misinformation” that winds up being correct….

While it is tempting—especially in the wake of a presidency that showed a keen disregard for facts—to suggest that elite culture is simply tamping down misinformation, this is a self-serving myth. Most who study scientific communication have found that admitting uncertainty doesn’t harm public trust. When we and others express alarm at the overlabeling of misinformation, we are not defending those who do things like deny the existence of COVID-19 or spread falsehoods about vaccine side effects. Over the course of the pandemic, we have also seen the misinformation label regularly applied to mainstream scientists speaking in their field of expertise. The suppression of doubt can be subtle, such as the kind of bandwagoning and overconfidence that drown out debate, or it can be obvious—from outright censorship to misuse of the phrase “fact check” when applied to disagreeable opinions. This approach not only hampers discourse, but ultimately undermines public trust in science and the credibility of the very elites who claim its mantle.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 1, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Posted in nature photography

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