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#362121 - 06-17-2010 15:59:24 Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog
BEB Online   content
True Southern Exposure
Crazed Wino

Registered: 01-02-2001 08:00:00
Posts: 5141
Loc: Somewhere in the Great Valley ...
It was just a matter of time until someone started a blog calling out biodynamics. Stuart Smith has his say here.
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"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." Elwood P. Dowd

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#362122 - 06-17-2010 16:15:57 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: BEB]
blil Offline
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Registered: 12-13-2000 08:00:00
Posts: 6251
Loc: Paola, KS
I've had some stunning biodynamic wines (Quivira) and some total crap (Coturri) so I'm not sure that biodynamics itself is to be given all the credit or blame.

I'm all about going back to nature using organic farming and stuff like that. But I'm not convinced that burying a ram horn packed with shit ultimately leads to better wine.

I guess you could say I'm squarely on the fence on this issue.
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#362123 - 06-17-2010 16:39:19 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: BEB]
Roland Dumas Online   content
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Registered: 11-19-2003 08:00:00
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Some years ago, I bought a book on biodynamic gardening to give me some clues how to better manage the back yard vegetables. I don't recall the crank religion part of it, but it posed a general theory that planting in harmony benefitted the crops and the soil. Whether that was derived from science, tradition, or conjecture, it had some face validity, so I read on. Some assertions begged evidence (planting by phase of moon) and others were easily tested (companion planting) and an assertion that one could plant densely and vertically, get more production, and leave the soil in good shape - well, that was very interesting.

To me, it was a framework to make you think about various things rather than reach for the chemicals or become obsessive about weeding. Whether it came from religious inspiration, ancient tradition, or a lucid dream didn't matter. It had a logic that appeals and I've found useful.

Problems occur when you start creating cults and certifications. Someone gets to make rules for others to follow. Stories are concocted to make it ancient, or modern science, or earth mother religion, or all of the above. It becomes a full blown meme. A waste of energy.

The blog doesn't separate what might be useful from the cult or fad, but seems to waste another tanker of energy doing the full ad hominem routine on practitioners. Baby going out with bathwater.

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#362127 - 06-17-2010 17:50:19 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: BEB]
Brad Harrington Offline

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Interesting site.

Invigorating discussion, unless you support BD methods and then as one response mentioned, it wasn't much fun.

I've listened to Peter Cargasacchi and Peter Work discuss this, which was hugely entertaining because they absolutely rip the heck out of each other.

For me, I'm not much of a believer, other than it has some sensible agricultural practices that, by the way, a lot of non BD growers use as well.

But, I say why care about what any farmer wants to do in his vineyard, as long as it is safe for my health. I just have no stake in the argument. Marketing is marketing on much of it tends towards hocus pocus. There are bigger debates to spend your time on. I am more concerned with a winery that makes wine for Parker than I am with who uses BD or not. ???????

I don't like charletons who want to sell us bridges any more than the next guy and, clearly there are some people who take this path in their approach to BD. They are like so many of the people trying to sell us "green" technology who really don't have a stake in it beyond the green of the bucks we pay them for their useless products. I'm all for recycling and being careful with natural resources but alot of this "green" stuff goes way beyond that and much of it has no scientific basis in fact, they work off of guilt and misinformation.

That being said, whatever floats someones boat, I could care less what people do as long as it doesn't effect my health and they don't proselytize to me.

Declaring your methods to the public, right or wrong, is fair game if you believe in it, but going over the top and using it as a major selling, marketing point for your sales could become a double edged sword with some people.

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#362148 - 06-18-2010 10:33:42 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Roland Dumas]
BEB Online   content
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Crazed Wino

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Originally Posted By: Roland Dumas
...The blog doesn't separate what might be useful from the cult or fad, but seems to waste another tanker of energy doing the full ad hominem routine on practitioners. Baby going out with bathwater.
But I think that is the point Smith is making: the foundation of biodynamics is false and needs to be thrown out. If the results of biodynamics is more footprints in the vineyard, then growers should focus on the questions of why that is important and look for efficiencies in those steps rather than adopt the approach of "that's just how it's done." Isn't that what real science is about?
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BEB

"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." Elwood P. Dowd

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#362149 - 06-18-2010 11:00:07 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Brad Harrington]
BEB Online   content
True Southern Exposure
Crazed Wino

Registered: 01-02-2001 08:00:00
Posts: 5141
Loc: Somewhere in the Great Valley ...
In a Seinfeld episode, George says to Jerry, "Remember, it isn't a lie if you believe it." And to me, that's what is at the heart of biodynamics. Do some of the practices offer real alternatives to chemical options? Ok, that's fine. But the entire alignment-of-the-body-with-the-planets stuff - where's the science to support it? And if it's not verifiable, then why is it tolerated? While I appreciate the whole John Stewart Mills approach of if-it-does-no-harm-to-others-then-allow-the -behavior, if junk science isn't confronted, it misleads others, holds back the search for scientific truth. Believing in biodynamics for the sake of believing doesn't make it true, and doesn't save it from being a lie.
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BEB

"I've wrestled with reality for 35 years and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it." Elwood P. Dowd

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#362156 - 06-18-2010 15:44:23 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: BEB]
Brad Harrington Offline

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Registered: 12-12-2000 08:00:00
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Some people don't put as much trust in science either.
Scientific history is full of mistakes made from erroneous beliefs.

I don't believe that it is a worthwhile endeavor to say all BDers are lying thieves. Life is too short to take that approach. I know a number of them and I like them as people, not going to hate on them just because thy like something I don't care about. I like lots of things other people don't care about and I could care less what people think about it.

I guess for me Steve Martin had it right:

Quote:
"It's so hard to believe in anything anymore. I mean, it's like, religion, you really can't take it seriously, because it seems so mythological, it seems so arbitrary...but, on the other hand, science is just pure empiricism, and by virtue of its method, it excludes metaphysics. I guess I wouldn't believe in anything anymore if it weren't for my lucky astrology mood watch."
Steve Martin

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#362157 - 06-18-2010 15:51:04 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Brad Harrington]
blil Offline
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Registered: 12-13-2000 08:00:00
Posts: 6251
Loc: Paola, KS
Scientific history is indeed rife with mistakes.

But at least science is able to admit its mistake and change its stance when an erroneous belief is disproved. I don't see that same mechanism in religion, biodynamics, etc.
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#362163 - 06-18-2010 16:27:09 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: BEB]
Roland Dumas Online   content
Regular

Registered: 11-19-2003 08:00:00
Posts: 972
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By: BEB
Originally Posted By: Roland Dumas
...The blog doesn't separate what might be useful from the cult or fad, but seems to waste another tanker of energy doing the full ad hominem routine on practitioners. Baby going out with bathwater.
But I think that is the point Smith is making: the foundation of biodynamics is false and needs to be thrown out.


Smith is behaving as irrationally as his target. More heat than light in his diatribes.

The premise of biodynamics isn't science. It's just a premise, a viewpoint. Like "organic", it starts from a basic principle which causes people to try things that they might not have considered. So biodynamic predicts that you can grow enough food for a family on 1/10 acre by following its methods. Someone shows that you can do it, and do it again in the same plot for several years. Well, that's a success that a scientist might want to look at for explanation. Might be the magical proximity of the right plants planted at the right phase of the moon, or it might be a Hawthorne effect. EIther way, it's opened up thinking to new ideas.

Mayans planted corn, beans, and potatoes and whatever in the same mound. Something our current practices wouldn't think of, but looking at it, it stirs the thought process about why that practice might have evolved and what benefit it might have for us now.

THe only craziness is when people turn things into cults and/or start going for the personal affronts. THat's when thinking stops and wars start. If the biodynamic world has become a cult with certifications and tenets that have to be worshipped, then it's a dead idea. If opponents require everything to be scientific from the get-go and attack people because of their religious beliefs, then it's just a pissing war.

Science is not a holy discipline. A rigorous scientific study doesn't always start with a blank sheet of paper. It can look at a practice that appears effective, and start with tests to determine what makes it appear effective. Because a practice didn't begin as a scientific enterprise doesn't make it wrong or ineffective.

I followed some of the methods and principles - those that made sense - in doing my backyard garden. Does it yield more or better than when I was using chemicals to fertilize and others to ward off bugs? Not sure. More and better tomatoes and basil, for sure. Less spent on chemicals. Fewer bugs. Some 'beneficial' companion plants that have turned into pernicious weeds. My bigger net is that I don't have chemicals around that sink into the soil and run off to the bay. I don't have things around that have unknown toxic effects. I feel better about the food that hits my table. Peace of mind has a lot of value. Science or not.

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#362165 - 06-18-2010 16:29:38 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: blil]
Brad Harrington Offline

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Registered: 12-12-2000 08:00:00
Posts: 13899
Loc: La Jolla, San Diego, CA
True, but most of them would argue that faith is more important in principal than belief in the scientific model, which is constantly changing it's landscape.

FWIW, I am just playing the devil's advocate here. I lean towards empiricism fairly strongly for myself, but I am all for diversity and people believing what suits them. It's not exactly like believing in science has saved this planet from itself.

I really have no axe to grind and just figure live and let live.

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#362189 - 06-19-2010 13:45:54 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: BEB]
Alan Rath Offline
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Registered: 02-15-2004 19:48:18
Posts: 3376
Loc: Fremont, Ca
Originally Posted By: BEB
In a Seinfeld episode, George says to Jerry, "Remember, it isn't a lie if you believe it." And to me, that's what is at the heart of biodynamics. Do some of the practices offer real alternatives to chemical options? Ok, that's fine. But the entire alignment-of-the-body-with-the-planets stuff - where's the science to support it? And if it's not verifiable, then why is it tolerated? While I appreciate the whole John Stewart Mills approach of if-it-does-no-harm-to-others-then-allow-the -behavior, if junk science isn't confronted, it misleads others, holds back the search for scientific truth. Believing in biodynamics for the sake of believing doesn't make it true, and doesn't save it from being a lie.

I'm copying your post to use as a response on every BD thread from now on smile
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#362200 - 06-20-2010 05:03:41 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Alan Rath]
Bernard Roth Offline
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Registered: 01-03-2001 08:00:00
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Loc: Santa Barbara
You can get the right result for the wrong reason. As far as I am concerned, producers who follow BD overwhelmingly make good to excellent to world class wine.

So what is it about BD that affects the outcome? It is a mix of things that have concrete benefit to the vines, and a bunch of hocus pocus mumbo jumbo.

But the primary benefit is psychological. It provides individuals with a system that helps them be aware of the interconnectivity of factors that make a healthy vineyard. This awareness of the whole - of synergy - helps producers stay out of trouble with misguided technological intervention, and to focus on ecological wellness.
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#362203 - 06-20-2010 14:59:11 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Bernard Roth]
Roland Dumas Online   content
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Registered: 11-19-2003 08:00:00
Posts: 972
Loc: Napa, CA
Amen.

Labeling something a "hoax" or a "lie" is to assert that there are intentional misrepresentation for some nefarious purpose. There are many belief systems that aren't scientific, aren't even testable, yet still provide frameworks for directing attention and action to good outcomes. (insert name of religious denomination you belong to here).

BD may have some out-there premises, but is just a variant of the organic premise. Over time, the natural empiricism of ordinary people will distill this down to the actions that work best, and the rest of it will go away or be carried along as colorful ritual.

At worst, harmless. Likely useful. Not a hoax.

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#362210 - 06-21-2010 16:14:36 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Roland Dumas]
Eric_Anderson Offline
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+1. The biggest benefit of BD is the increased awareness it imparts to the farmer/viticulturist.

It's unfortunate that the really ardent supporters of BD seem make BD an even bigger target by promoting their views in a nearly evangelical way. That said, it's just as unfortunate that many scientists and/or pseudo-scientists seem to have a knee-jerk lock-and-load mentality in addressing the issue. Does the name Pavlov rig a bell?
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#362212 - 06-21-2010 16:40:08 Re: Biodynamics is a Hoax - the blog [Re: Roland Dumas]
Roland Dumas Online   content
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Registered: 11-19-2003 08:00:00
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Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By: Roland Dumas
Some years ago, I bought a book on biodynamic gardening to give me some clues how to better manage the back yard vegetables.



And as I wrote that, I looked at a mass of sprouting seeds in compost I spread on the garden. Thinking I was about to be overrun by pumpkins or something, I plucked them all out. A few escaped my notice and have become artichoke plants. I have a garden full of volunteer artichokes!

See what BD does? You chant over pumpkin seeds and end up with an artichoke plantation! wink

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