[NAFEX] Fw: mychorizal fungal rip off?

Max Robinson maxrobinson at wv-cis.net
Fri Mar 27 20:40:45 EDT 2009


There is a great deal of deception in marketing products, but the faith that 
I see in "scientific research" is more troubling to me. I worked for 12 
years as a Research Assistant at a Medical School, and before that 2 years 
as a Graduate Student. I confess that I am disillusioned. It's not that 
there is not great deal of important and reliable research out there, but 
the system is open to abuse, and the faith that we as a culture put in 
research makes it an attractive target for deception.

Research is usually very expensive, and researchers usually do not have 
funds given to them by their employer to undertake research on their own. So 
they must become grant writers.

The entity that gives the grant controls the research, not directly, but in 
two important ways. First, they decide what questions get asked. If the 
researcher has a question of his own, he must find someone with money to be 
made from his question, or he is out of luck.

Second, the grantor retains the right to decide if, and where,  the results 
will be published. So trials that don't find a result that the money source 
is interested in never see the light of print.

This is even worsetham it sounds, becausse the way a researcher wins grants 
is by showing all the successful research he's done that has been published 
in the past. If his past few projects didn't find something that his grant 
source wanted to publish, he probably won't get any more grants, and his 
career grinds to a halt. There is tremendous pressure to make sure he 
designs his experiment to find a "good" result.

And even if his research finds something great, and it gets published, if 
someone doesn't pay to get it into the mass media, the public never knows 
about it.

I'm a blueberry grower. About 20 years ago, the large blueberry growers 
decided to "tax" themselves a small percent of every pound sold for research 
and development. They paid several researchers to find something wonderful 
about blueberries, and several did (of course). These were published in 
scientific journals, and then millions of dollars were spent to get the news 
into every possible outlet. And now we all know that blueberries have 
antioxidants, and hundreds of people show up at my farm to pick because 
they've been told that blueberries will add years to their lives.

I'm sure that blueberries are good for you, and we should eat more fresh 
fruit; but this process was not the finding of some independent, altruistic 
researcher; it was a very expensive, high-tech advertising ploy to rescue an 
overproductive agricultural industry from price collapse. It worked, by the 
way. And most of the research that you see every day is part of the same 
process. Someone has an agenda.

Most of us know not to trust advertising; we should also be skeptical of 
advertising with a Ph.D.

Max



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mark Angermayer" <hangermayer at isp.com>
To: "NAFEX" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 3:55 PM
Subject: [NAFEX] Fw: mychorizal fungal rip off?


> Strangely, I find myself agreeing with both Bill and Donna, and thought 
> they
> both had some very good points, even though the points seemed somewhat
> conflicting.  On the one hand, black and white research has limitations
> because of statistical variance (it's sometimes amazing how conclusions 
> are
> drawn from such tiny samples), or not considering enough variables in
> setting up the research (i.e. testing mychorizal on numerous different 
> soil
> types).  Sometimes it seems research limitations are built in because 
> there
> is rarely enough funding to do exhaustive research.
>
> On the other hand, it is frustrating to sometimes see whole industries 
> built
> on nothing but anecdotal evidence.  Some industry selling foo foo powder
> will jerry rig their own research to support their conclusions.  Then, 
> when
> there is no MAINSTREAM research to support them, they claim the
> universities, corporations, doctors, government, etc. are being paid-off.
> Supposedly, it's all one big conspiracy. Our human mind is very tricky. 
> It
> will accept what we "want to believe" first, then rationalize the facts to
> fit, all the while fooling us into thinking we have found the truth of the
> matter.
>
> Mark
> KS
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "William C. Garthright" <>
> To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 8:39 AM
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] mychorizal fungal rip off?
>
>
>>
>> > There have been discussions of foliar feeds on this group with many
>> > folks saying they do nothing.  Well, nothing compared to what?
>> > Nothing compared to a garden in Iowa soil I can understand.  But with
>> > worthless soil, anything a plant can get is noticeably helpful.
>>
>>
>> That's a very good point, Donna. Our situations are all different. But
>> one big problem with this kind of discussion, from my point of view, is
>> simply that anecdotes aren't evidence. Without peer-reviewed, duplicable
>> scientific research - with careful controls and, if possible,
>> double-blind precautions - it's really hard to know for sure what's real
>> and what's just an artifact of our expectations, beliefs, and hopes. And
>> I must add that much of what I hear about mycorrhizal fungi and foliar
>> sprays is from people who are selling the stuff (not that I think that
>> they're lying, only that it's even easier in such a case to fool
> ourselves).
>>
>> Let me be clear that I know NOTHING about mycorrhizal fungi (the
>> original topic here) myself. I did use it when I planted my fruit trees,
>> vines, and bushes in my backyard, because I figured that it couldn't
>> hurt. But I have no idea if it was a waste of money or not. So I am not
>> criticizing the practice. I just don't know.
>>
>> But I do know that I like the scientific approach at this Horticultural
>> Myths website:
>>
>>
> http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/index.html
>>
>> or
>>
>> http://tinyurl.com/6d8ye6
>>
>> At a quick glance, I don't see any articles about mycorrhiza, but here's
>> a good example of an article about compost tea which clearly explains
>> about scientific research:
>>
>>
> http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/Myths/magazine%20pdfs/CompostTea.pdf
>>
>> or
>>
>> http://tinyurl.com/ct8lmq
>>
>> I'm just trying to say - in my own long-winded way - that I'd prefer
>> scientific evidence, one way or another, about mycorrhizal fungi,
>> compost tea, and pretty much everything else that I might use in my
>> life. It's not always available, in which case we must do the best we
>> can. But there are always so many other factors that can affect personal
>> anecdotes - including our own individual situations, as you note, but
>> also our different levels of expertise, attention, expectations, and
>> even chance.
>>
>> Hmm,... maybe I'll send an email to Dr. Chalker-Scott requesting an
>> article about mycorrhizal fungi. I really would like to know what
>> scientific research there's been on adding it to new plantings. (As you
>> suggest, I suspect that it depends on WHERE you're doing the planting.)
>>
>> Bill
>> Lincoln, NE (zone 5)
>>
>> -- 
>> Last September I gave my Jack Russell terrier, Daisy, all of my money to
>> invest. She promptly dug a hole in my backyard and buried my entire nest
>> egg. Since then, I've beaten the S & P 500 by more than 50 percent. Now,
>> you're probably wondering, what if your dog isn't as smart as Daisy? No
>> worries. He's probably still smarter than you. - Andy Borowitz
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