How to use a crystal ball in environmental microbiology: developing new ways to explore complex datasets


A crystal ball is an instrument which – when used properly – helps to gain information on the past, present or future by other means than common human senses and the standard technologies supporting them, with the purpose to use this information to generate knowledge and to aid decision making. Hence, it could be a very useful tool in environmental microbiology, which deals with an enormous number and diversity of unknown populations, processes and habitats, many of which escape human scales, and almost all of which are not traceable in the past – if we would only know how to use the crystal ball. Esoteric handbooks say that: (i) one must have a specific question to ask, (ii) one must be able to completely concentrate on this question and be very patient until the fog goes away and some information‐containing images develop, then (iii) one must accept what one sees and not be blocked by preconceived opinions, finally (iv) the crystal ball is a sensitive tool that must be well maintained, cultivated and surrounded by positive energies. So, doesn't this sound like the good advices we get from our statistics experts and data base managers in how to deal with large and complex data sets

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Last time updated on June 15, 2019

This paper was published in MPG.PuRe.

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