Considering Plantar Fasciitis Research, Engineered Nanoparticles, Data Misinterpretation, And The Story Of The Flea

Veronica chamaedrys on Wiki

Veronica chamaedrys, aka Bird’s Eye, aka Speedwell, from Wiki at this link. What a lovely photo, thank you Wiki, and YES! I do support them financially.

FleaThere are at least two keys to effective scientific research, these being,

(1) dreaming up the right questions, and

(2) avoiding data misinterpretation.

Basically, a level of humility is essential, as we can all fall for it.

For instance, take the story of the flea, which I learned I don’t know where, and my observation of Speedwells in my garden today:

The Story Of The Flea

A young man encountered a friend, and they fell into a conversation about what they each were up to. His friend was clearly excited, and said, “You’ve got to see what I’ve done. I’ve trained a flea to jump on command.”

Clapham Tutin Warburg cover Amazon

FitOldDog never went anywhere without it, as a teenager, but it was all in one volume, and he knew his plants in those days.

He reached into his pocket, took out a small tin, opened it and said, “Jump!” And out jumped a large flea right into his hand. The young man was extremely impressed, but his friend exclaimed, “You haven’t seen anything yet!” He held out both hands, and commanded the flea to jump, which it did, performing a perfect leap from one hand to the other.

Impressive,” said the young man. But his friend said, excitedly, “You haven’t seen anything yet,” and he promptly pulled one leg off of the flea, and instructed it to jump, which of course, it did. Then his friend immediately said, “But you haven’t seen anything yet!” and he pulled off another leg, and clearly the flea performed the jumping feat, yet again. This continued until there was only one flea leg left on the flea, and on command, but with considerable effort, the flea leapt from one hand to the other. “You haven’t seen anything yet!” Off went the last leg of the flea, and his friend said, “Jump! JUMP! JUMP!” But no response.

What does this tell us about pulling legs off of trained fleas?

FitOldDog's view

Spotted these guys this morning through the kitchen window. Click on the image and look in the square.

Well, the conclusion is obvious: seeing as the flea was highly trained, when you pulled all of the legs off of that flea, it went deaf.

Repeat the experiment a bunch of times, do some statistics, and you’ve got a nice scientific publication in your resumé. If you wanted to pursue this observation, as a researcher, you would immediately request funds to study the hearing capabilities of fleas, and how their auditory systems (must use long words to impress committees – Leeuwenhoek didn’t know that, or I guess he was too excited!) respond to progressive limb amputation.

You would have the wrong questions as a result of incorrect data interpretation. This happens all the time in science, so as I start to do research on mechanisms of plantar fasciitis (definite) and the toxicity of engineered nanoparticles (possible), I had better remember the story of the flea, and the Speedwell in our yard today:

The Story Of The Bird’s Eye In Our Yard:

FitOldDog's toasterI looked out of the window, as I was making my morning tea, and there were two beautiful blue flowers in the grass, and my mind said, “Veronica chamaedrys, that can’t be, I’ve never seen them in our yard before?

The words, Speedwell and Bird’s Eye, went through my mind, and then I remembered, with affection, Clapham, Tutin and Warberg’s Flora Of The British Isles, which I carried everywhere as a teenager – yes, I was a weird kid, too scared to ask a girl out, so I buried my head in books and study, instead – worked out in the end, don’t you think?

But was that really Bird’s Eye in our yard?


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.