In the previous post I linked to Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott's article about compost tea and there's a little sidebar there that deserves its own post. See, Linda's field of study is called "synthetic" research, meaning she assesses everyone else's research. (Who knew?) And here's her advice for us laypeople who are trying our damnest to make sense of often conflicting advice.
Questions to ask when assessing scientific objectivity and credibility of gray or popular literature
- Does the author have legitimate ties to a mainstream academic or scientific institution?
- Does the article refrain from attempts to sell a product?
- Does the article present verifiable information?
- Does the article appeal to reason rather than emotion?
If the answers to these questions are “yes,” then the likelihood is high that the information is objective and credible.
I don't know if Linda had the Soil Food Web lady in mind when she wrote this list but it sure applies – at least number 2, and possibly others. I especially like the caution about appeals to emotion – whether in horticulture OR politics.