Thanks, Pete Vesk, for so eloquently summarising our paper exploring the use of systematic feedback in plant surveys for improving abundance judgements of fieldworkers. Importantly, the feedback technique can be used when we don’t have ‘true values’ (e.g. the ‘actual’ species abundance) to compare our own judgements with. Instead, we use the average judgement of a group of people as a substitute for the truth. We can do this, because group averages tend to be remarkably accurate. This technique could be usefully applied in other areas.
See also a really engaging blog post by Ian Lunt on this topic, and why it’s so important to ‘take a speed check‘ in ecology. Making estimates without feedback is like ‘driving a stranger’s fast car at night without a speedo; and then insisting, ‘Officer, I’m very certain that I was doing only 97 km/hr.’