Why is the history of stereology so muddled?

I am often surprised at how people get the history of stereology wrong. Is it really that hard to get it right?

Recently an old article has been passed around the internet like some hoax letter. It makes many of the old mistakes. It tries to give Cavalieri’s work a modern twist by assigning work to him that isn’t done for at least a century. It gets the date of Buffon’s work wrong by 44 years. It assigns the date to the end of his life instead of the early years. Even Delesse is given credit for something he never did.

A while back I was looking into an issue with point counting. I never really knew where it came from although there are reports it was invented by a geologist and then reinvented independently by another geologist. Turns out that biologists invented point counting, not geologists. In fact, it was the rage for many years before the geologists learned about it.

What’s interesting is that many articles and books get it right. Many get it wrong.  The dividing line is 1979. Anyone want to venture which famous book on stereology got it wrong first? Here’s a little juicy tidbit. The geologist erroneously given the honor of inventing point counting in 1930 gave an address in 1938 in which he laments not making use of the the new and efficient method of point counting.

It is also fair to ask if all of this matters? Well it does. People place references in articles to justify their methods. Many articles use references to articles that do not use the stereological methods they employ. Does that sound like one of those health hoax letters that list all sorts of articles as references only to find out that the articles are not about the subject matter? That’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?

The history of stereology was muddled in 1979. The errors are not being corrected, but rather they are being increased by the recent rehash of an old article that is flawed in many, many ways.

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4 Responses to “Why is the history of stereology so muddled?”

  1. Name withheld on request of the poster Says:

    Who do you work for? What are you selling? What are your credentials? Have you ever done any actual stereology?

    I work for the Stereology Resource Center, an S-corporation that provides and supports a range of stereology-related products and services for the biomedical research community.

    Have you nothing better to do than take potshots?

  2. Name withheld on request of the poster Says:

    Quoting works out of context does not serve the best interests of anyone, especially not you. Comes off as a bunch of cowardly cheap shots. Go higher.

    • stereologist Says:

      You are welcome to provide some support for what I see as a number of big mistakes. Are you man enough to admit that these mistakes have been made?

      When people make huge mistakes about simple issues such as claiming Cavalieri’s work was about something it is not and giving Delesse credit for something he did not do it certainly makes it seem that maybe there are other mistakes being made.

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