Why, oh why do I insist on the hard way? (Or: My aversion to keys)

Why will I spend hours and hours exploring up and down taxonomic trees, study countless photographs, and ultimately trudge back out onto the trail to hunt for new individuals to look at more carefully, (usually with specific questions in mind this time in order to resolve a disputed ID,) but abhor spending even 5 minutes consulting a key? OK, 10 to 15 at the worst, because I'm still picking up all of the prerequisites needed as I study the keys. But certainly using a key is more efficient! It's not like there aren't any about for most of the things I encounter (gobotany covers the majority).

It's a sickness, that's why. I voraciously consume complex systems. The more complex, the more alternatives, the more unsettled things are, the more intricate and confusing the bits are, the more fun it is! Putting things in boxes kills the fun. It's the end of the hunt. Game over.

But sometimes you just need to get a job done and get on with the next thing. The sickness is: once I set off on the chase, my mind will ... not ... let ... go. I just find myself utterly incapable of calling it quits on the "hard way" and doing the sensible thing: "use the key!" Sigh.

So this summer's resolution? Overcome my aversion to keys! Wish me luck.

הועלה ב-יוני 5, 2018 08:04 אחה"צ על ידי benarmstrong benarmstrong


Good luck!

פורסם על-ידי kitty12 לפני כמעט 6 שנים

Thanks! I vacillate right now between the "hold my hand" simple mode of gobotany and the "grownup" version, the dichotomous key. My pride (or recast more positively, zeal to learn) leads me to the latter, while practical considerations (a sketchy grasp of the knowledge domain so far, and in particular, only fractional knowledge of the entire lexicon of terms used) indicate I should probably spend more time in the former. :)

פורסם על-ידי benarmstrong לפני כמעט 6 שנים

I don't have a science background at all, just an outdoorsy one. But I don't mind looking things up. I think new words to describe things I didn't even know existed a year ago are just great! And eventually, they'll make sense to me in the context of a bunch of other words I didn't know a year ago.

I still think that running back to the woods to take another look is essential to making the keys work. If you don't know what details you're looking for in advance, it's easy to miss them. "Uh, I should have been looking for a slight notch half-way up the sepal, but it's only visible from certain angles? Darn it, I don't have a picture or memory of that. I guess I get another excuse to look at it. Hope the bugs aren't too bad!"

But you can be pretty sure you'll remember that key detail for next time, which means you're learning. I think it's kind of like that medical school teaching formula: See one, do one, teach one.

פורסם על-ידי kitty12 לפני כמעט 6 שנים

Learning new words is one of the best parts. But slowing down and taking a systematic approach, rather than just letting my imagination guide me, that's the part I inexplicably avoid, even though once I do, I actually quite enjoy the process.

I realize now that one of my recent trips back to the woods to help solve some mysteries was less productive than it would've been if I had left the house with a better set of questions. I had a personal list of questions that naturally arose in my mind when looking at recent observations, e.g. do the pinnules look any different between immature interrupted and cinnamon ferns? and if they do, how? and several other questions I had in mind about other observations I had recently reviewed. Only after I returned, feeling a bit defeated on the fern questions, as I didn't find anything conclusive, did I go back and start to talk to a more experienced identifier about my difficulties. As soon as I did (even before I was given an answer), I right away started to see things I had beforehand missed entirely. I felt foolish. When it was all over and I had things sorted out for the day, I started to reflect on how quickly this experienced person steered me at key differences, and then it dawned on me (not for the first time) that my dogged avoidance of keys had gobbled up a lot of time, with very little return for my effort. So the entry above is a direct result of that experience.

פורסם על-ידי benarmstrong לפני כמעט 6 שנים

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