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Michael Culbertson
Master of Forest Science candidate, The Forest School at the Yale School of the Environment

Scientists conceptualize and measure ecological phenomena in ways that influence management practices and policy decisions. I am currently excited about regression to the mean (Eric W. Slesserev, Adrian G. Barnett), specification curve analysis (Uri Simohnson), challenges to current statistical analysis (Stephen T. Ziliak), measurement theory (David Houle), publication bias (John P. A. Ioannidis), criticisms of modern experimental design and evidentiary standards (Nancy Cartwright, Thomas D. Cook), abductive inquiry (Jaakko Hintikka), myth of objectivity (Ian I. Mitroff), and practical uncertainties like scale, timing, measurement error, technician error, cognitive bias, and how the types of questions posed relate to the defined metrics and analysis used in ecological research.

Current/Recent Projects:

Critical synthesis of experimental designs to reliably yield effect sizes of harvesting on forest soil organic carbon.

High-density sampling and simulation to evaluate the influence of sampling designs on estimation of of forest characteristics.

Summary of emerging biodiversity issues.

Policymakers guide for World Resources Institute

Policy research for the Northeast Forest Farmers Coalition

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“When we assign a value to something in the forest, we are beginning to adjust that object in our focus, and as we bring one thing into focus we simultaneously forces almost everything else out of focus….”

-Chris Maser, The Redesigned Forest, p. 22-23.


“When people want to know what Okuninushi no Mikoto, the Shinto deity of agriculture, carries around in the huge sack on his shoulder, they immediately open the sack and thrust their hands in. They think that to understand the interior of the sack, they must know its contents. Supposing they found the sack to be filled with all sorts of strange objects made of wood and bamboo. At this point, most people would begin to make various pronouncements: “Why this is no doubt a tool used by travelers.” “No, it's a decorative carving.” “No, it's most definitely is a weapon.” And so forth. Yet the truth, known only to Okuninushi himself, is that the object is an instrument fashioned by him for his amusement. And, moreover, because it's broken, he is carrying it around in his sack merely for use as kindling.”

-Masanobu Fukuoka, The Natural Way of Farming, p. 52.

“Who planted the great ancient forests? Who tilled the land? Who provided seed, manure, irrigation, or protection from pests?”

-Bhaskar Save, The Vision of Natural Farming by Bharat Mansata, p. 3.

“The world which is the test of all observations and all hypothetical reconstructions has in itself no system that can be isolated as a structure of laws or uniformities, though all laws and formulations of uniformities must be brought to its court for its imprimatur.”
George Herbert Mead, The Philosophy of the Act, p. 31.


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(c) Michael Culbertson 2022

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