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Re: Doing Everything Wrong

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: Doing Everything Wrong
  • From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>
  • Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 07:30:08 -0600 (MDT)

Hey Gang,

This discussion of "doing everything wrong" has some disturbing
undercurrents as well as encouraging ones.

The good news seems to be that our favorite plant is much more adaptable
than we might think--but this does go along with the "weedy" hypothesis
(that TB irises are plants of disturbed environments).

The bad news is that there's a fallacy involved here.  The "Rules" have
been developed over a long period of time, based on the experience of many,
many growers in lots of different climates and conditions.  They represent
general guidelines that have persisted because they almost always produce
success.  That doesn't mean that they will work 100% of the time in one
grower's particular conditions.  But most of the time, in most places, if
you follow the "Rules" you'll get good results.  We can all come up with
anecdotal evidence that sometimes "doing everything wrong" also works.  But
these few incidents lack meaning when compared to the thousands and
thousands of cases in which the "Rules" gave good results.

My point is that we should not confuse anomalous events with what generally
happens and suddenly decide that everything should be turned on its head.
I would hate to see any novices on the list decide to heavily mulch all
their irises all summer, load them up with lawn fertilizer and ignore
foliage diseases and rot because it has been reported to give results for
just one person in just one particular set of circumstances.

Experiment, yes.  But make sure that the experiment has adequate controls
with which the results can be compared, and be sure that the conditions
under which the experiment was carried out are generally applicable, not
unique to the situation.  If the circumstances are unusual, good results
may apply only to those circumstances, and not to the general case.

Having said this (and waiting for the flames to descend!), I do wish Linda
every good thing if she does indeed decide to experiment with "doing
everything wrong."

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

"Synthetic Rubber Movie to be Shown to Lions Today"
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