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H2O2 in the planted tank, etc.
We've got a little flame war going on, that is at least partly over the
role of science on the list. As I recall the argument originated when
James expressed the view that the information we have about using H2O2
isn't good enough to let us guide new aquarists in it's use. I think Tom
Barr acknowledged that and this morning reported some early observations
from his own (uncontrolled) tests. I agree *completely* with James
original complaint and I think Tom is taking steps to fix the problem.
That's good. The rest of the conversation is bad.
Carmen Robinette apparently didn't know that many of us do keep multiple
tanks and that several of us (including James and myself) have done or at
least tried to do controlled experiments. The catch is that planted tanks
involve so many variables that adequate controls are essentially
In natural sciences (like my field of Geology) we often can't use a
controlled experimental approach. Instead we use careful observation
coupled with findings on simpler systems and we use inductive reasoning to
explain our observations. Dose-response tests like Sears and Conlin's
development of PMDD and the tests that Tom Barr may be doing now with
peroxide are a reasonable extension of the same method. That is science.
Unfortunately, we tend to slip up a bit on the quantification and careful
Even with those slip-ups we do better than the kind of uninformed
anecdotal hogwash that James wants to avoid, where sketchy observations
combined with ignorance of actual mechanisms produce wrong conclusions and
bad advice. As he said, if that's what you want then go read USENET.
When this list started it featured a number of prominent people with long
experience not only with aquatic plant keeping, but also with advising
others. Karen Randall, George Booth and the others who so freely offered
their advice and experience started this list's tradition of good advice
and discussion based on knowledge and careful observation. I don't want
to see that tradition lost, and I'm happy to read that James doesn't
What I find most galling in this little flame fest are the newbies and
lurkers coming out of the woodwork to complain about the attitude and
advise of long time list participants. Any one who's been on this list
very long knows James to be helpful, reserved and understanding. Also
those who have been on the list for a while know that isn't a tribute from
an old ally; James and I often disagree.
How much weight am I supposed to give to the opinion of someone who has
never before bothered to step up and offer constructive help? What should
I think of someone who's whole experience of a few months on the list
spans a period when fish keeping was a more prominent topic then plant
Over the last couple years we have seen some of the list's most active and
helpful participants take a back seat. Are the complaining newbies and
lurkers ready to stand up and offer the kind of meaty advise that Steve or
Karen or George handed out for so long? The list needs new people all the
time. The old hands tire of covering the same issues over and over or
finally get fed up with the abuse and look for different outlets. I know
there are new people on the list with the knowledge and experience it
takes. But, are they also willing to put in the hours it takes to study
the problems, discuss the issues with others and then respond to an
average of two or three questions a day, month after month? If you aren't
willing to do it, maybe you shouldn't complain about those who do.
This list needs a kick in the butt. Plant questions are going unanswered,
off topic discussions of parasites and beginner's fish-keeping problems
are more common then plant-related content. If we can put the off topic
and beginner issues aside maybe we will have time to a) help people with
plant problems and b) get on to what Robert H (and myself) think is the
*real* heart of planted tank keeping -- the artistry and style that lies
beyond the mundane how-tos.