Plants & Human Affairs - Introduction
Cherries.wmf (7140 bytes) Plants & Human Affairs (BIOL106)  -  Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D.; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

Bogus Botany Project/Report

    The purpose of this assignment is to provide an opportunity to do an in depth study of a botanical topic that "borders on believability."  Your topic can be either completely bogus or perfectly scientific - the main criterion is that when a non-scientist or non-botanists hears about it for the first time they should think, "really?"  You (and your team mates - groups of three) will be asked to:

  1. select a topic (some possible topics are included in the list below.  The Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic web site are a good sources for topics.  Any issue of a supermarket tabloid should give you countless ideas to study.  And the the survey you received on the first day of class also has ideas);

  2. submit your topic to me for final approval before you begin work.  Note - your topic must involve plants and preferentially should include growing plants in the greenhouse;

  3. once approved, investigate your topic using resources from the library, internet or other;

  4. prepare a scientific analysis of your topic.  Is the idea falsifiable?  testable? Describe/outline an experiment (question, hypothesis, predictions, protocol) that could be conducted to test the claim.

  5. complete the Research Proposal Form and then meet with me for approval.

  6. gather your materials and conduct your experiment

  7. summarize the results of your research in a web page(s) that we will publish in a web site entitled, "Bogus Botany."  At a minimum, your web page(s) should include, a summary/overview of the claims made by your topic/product, scientific analysis of the claims, the results and conclusions from your experiment, references (minimum three) and links to information about your topic/claims; and other pertinent information evaluating the SCIENTIFIC validity of the topic/product.  Be sure to rate the "bogosity" of your topic.

  8. This project is worth 10% of your final course grade

  • Sonic Bloom - will stimulate the growth of your plants
  • Talking to your plants will make them grow better
  • Moon Gardening - do plants grow better when planted by the phases of the moon
  • ?
  • Crystals can make plants grow better
  • Plants display emotions that can be detected with a lie detector (galvanometer)
  • Prayers will make a plant grow better
  • Music will make plants grow better
  • Harsh words spoken to your plants will stunt their growth
  • Leaves won't wilt and decay if prayed to.
  • Plants have a memory
  • Organically grown vegetables taste better than those produced by conventional means
  • Plants grow better when fertilized with organic fertilizers than conventional fertilizers
  • Bach flower essences can affect your mood
  • Plants can sense and react to your mood and feelings
  • Touching your plants will stunt their growth
  • Smelling lavender can reduce your heart rate and decrease stress
  • Some plants, like black walnuts, can inhibit the growth of other plants
  • Plants can be anaesthetized
  • Corn plants without water remain healthy when other corn plants are nearby





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Last updated:  01/27/2005 � Copyright  by SG Saupe