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 Poster

    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-botanist hears about it for the first time they should think, "really?"  You will be asked to:

  1. select a topic (some possible topics are included in the list below.  The Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic web sites 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 - one person per topic. (topic listing)

  3. once approved, investigate your topic using resources from the library, internet or other source.  Ideas to include are:  summary/overview of the topic, scientific analysis of your topic (is the idea falsifiable?  testable); have any experiments been done to test the idea or if not, can you outline one that could be conducted to test the claim?  what is the scientific validity of the topic?

  4. prepare a poster that documents the results of your research.  Posters are an effective and increasingly common tool to present scientific data.  Essentially, a poster provides a brief visual summary of the contents of a scientific paper.  I will provide examples of posters as a model.  Your poster should include the main points mentioned above and be visually interesting/exciting.

  5. Your poster should be mounted on cardboard/tagboard; 22 x 28" is adequate.  For more details on preparing a poster, check out the handout on "Poster Presentations." 

  6. Bring to class on the assigned day a copy of the completed "Poster Presentation Checklist" to class.

  7. Email to me the day before the assignment is due:  three questions that can be answered by examining your poster.

Table 1.  Some potential poster topics
  • 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
  • checkout the list of possibilities from the Botanical Science Survey
  • 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:  10/05/2008 � Copyright  by SG Saupe