ABT Reviews

Steve Hinkson sphinkson at worldnet.att.net
Thu Jul 8 19:42:21 EST 1999

Good going !
You noticed the glaring errors in botany texts.
in that company, these authors may have made more than most, but errors are
all too common.

David Hershey wrote:

> Ross, I agree with nearly all your comments.
> On the idea of a review panel, it might not need more than 2 or 3
> botanists if they were willing to do a large number of manuscripts. In
> order to do a thorough manuscript review, I often go to the library and
> look up articles on the topic. One major weakness of many botany
> teaching manuscripts is that they do not consult the botany teaching
> literature to see what others have done. Although scattered, the botany
> teaching literature is quite extensive if you include articles, texts,
> and lab manuals. I collected about 40 plant physiology lab manuals
> dating back to the 1890s and Francis Darwin's manual. Darwin's manual
> contained some experiments that would still be useful today. A goodly
> portion of the newer literature can be searched online using the ERIC
> database.
> http://ericir.sunsite.syr.edu/Eric/index.html
> I realize a lot of the literature is not obtainable by many teachers
> other than by interlibrary loan. It might be useful to make at least
> botany teaching articles more widely available on CDs.
> I think that science's peer review process is not enough given its
> haphazard nature and frequent failures. Scientists should be more open
> to criticism of published articles and not consider them "cast in stone"
> if they survive the peer review process. ABT certainly deserves credit
> in that regard. Given the key importance of peer review in science and
> accuracy of published articles, I have often wondered why the paid
> editorial staff of many science journals consists of people with degrees
> in journalism or English, not science. If peer review is so key to
> science, why is it a volunteer activity?
> You might be giving Jerry Baker too much credit on pseudoscience of
> plants and music. I think the bestseller "The Secret Life of Plants",
> which sits near the botany books on the library shelf, is the major
> culprit. PBS should be ashamed for giving Baker so wide an audience
> because many of Baker's recommendations are sheer nonsense. However, he
> doesn't bother me as much as the high school and college biology texts
> with numerous glaring botany errors, error-filled botany science project
> books written by nonbotanists, error-filled NSF funded plant curricula
> like "GrowLab", and terribly inaccurate botany articles in science
> teaching journals that refuse to publish corrections or criticisms of
> the articles. Perhaps what is needed is for NABT or BSA to give a "Green
> Thumb" award to accurate botany teaching materials and a "Brown Thumb"
> award to substandard ones.
> David Hershey
> dh321 at excite.com

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