re. "proving" biodynamic techniques

I have found the discussion on biodynamic farming interesting.  I think it 
again shows the problem of not really communicating between groups or the -- 
what you think you heard me say is not what I really said --.

Microsoft sells millions of copies of MSDOS.  To say that unless they have 
shown in a statistical study that the system is "better" it really is not 
successful (ala jhaskett) begs the question - I believe they will laugh all 
the way to the Bank.  I think they have a very successful system but it 
doesn't say that it is more efficient, more user friendly, or cheaper.  Those 
questions are still in discussion by many people including those with 
preference for Apple.  I use MSDos because I can go between my home and my 
office and my wife can do the same and it will do everything that is of most 
importance to me, regardless of whether it is the "better".

Or if, as in a recent study, people living in houses with pesticide strips 
seem to have more cases of cancer - we don't do a statistical study and 
purposely expose people to strips and some not to find out the "real" answer. 
More importantly, the person who doesn't use pesticide strips because s/he 
has "vibrations" that s/he shouldn't; probably isn't that interested in the 
"real" answer to the question.  S/he is satisfied that s/he doesn't have 

The answer obtained, whether research or not, depends on what the question 
is, how it is asked, the perception of what is asked, and the basis for 
determining an answer.  In research, it is further modified by the funds 
available to determine an answer.

I remember reading a long-term study about rotations etc. on cotton, I 
believe in Louisiana.  It was shown that the effect of rotations could be 
mimicked by addition of fertilizer for the first 10 years, but after 10 years 
the rotation treatment improved and continued to improve over the fertilizer 
treatment.  I think that it demonstrated very well the principal problem with 
many research studies comparing organic/biodynamic etc. type studies - most 
are less than 10 years and would not show the "real" effects.  How many long-
term research trials are there?  Biologically-based soil changes are slow, 
possibly cumulative, and do not lend themselves very well to the traditional 
ag research methodology.

Financial or economic return isn't necessarily the only question or 
livelihood issue to be addressed.  Quality, ethical, or spiritual issues are 
as important and maybe more important to many people - they should have the 
right to NOT see everything in "financial" terms.

Sometimes we confuse requirement with purpose. Profit is a requirement but 
not a purpose.  While we must eat to live -- to live to eat is probably a 
distortion or aberration.

Yours for a move diverse and tolerant society.  - Ray

Forgive me but I just saw an additional submission by jhaskett raising the 
"peer review" issue.  Peer review adds nothing if the right question hasn't 
been asked.  Just because a research proposal has been peer reviewed, the 
results have been peer reviewed, and the resulting publication appears in a 
peer-reviewed journal says nothing about whether the right research question 
was asked.  I believe that over-dependence on "peer" review is one reason 
that research is in financial difficulties and USDA/ARS is looking at staff 
and budget cuts.  I think that some of the people footing the bill are saying 
that the researchers are answering their "researchable" questions rather than 
addressing the questions of interest to the "people".  Twenty and more years 
ago a lot of research was conducted on pesticide movement in soils with 
"answers" that movement was slow or negligible.  There are a lot of people in 
a number of states that are buying bottled water for household use that 
probably wish that different research questions had been asked.  Just because 
the "peers" weren't aware of by-pass flow in soils at that time doesn't mean 
that they should be absolved of responsibility for contaminated ground water. 
I would think that there are enough examples to indicate that research is 
frequently based on overwhelming ignorance and doesn't address the "right" 

Please don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of peer review - it has served us 
well.  I also believe, however, there are different ways of obtaining valid 
and useful information of interest to people not always, at the time, 

Just because something has always been done a certain way does not mean it is 
the "best" way.

Peace - Ray