Ill just address the points as we go by briefly summarizing.
Re data access – the ability to access high end journals can get very expensive. What is not expensive, but free is the access to the abstract to any article pretty much ever written. Abstracts definitely don’t tell the entire story but will give one a very good idea of what is in the paper. Its basically a short summary of what was done and the results. Google Scholar is a good tool for the beginner.
Re controls – At the very end of the experiment you make the claim about a starter is better (we’ll get to that later). However, to have an experiment that holds water one always needs an unmanipulated control. If you wanted to test the validity of making a starter then you would need a non-starter control.
Re OG – Both do claim that you can pitch either product into <1.060 wort. However you are doing an experiment for the number of yeast to be pitched and the effects therein. In order to do this one first needs to understand that high gravity brewing is a beast of its own. This was not your experiment which needs to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong, this in and of itself is very much an experiment but not what you
Re fermenters – you are correct. Both fermenters were the same which does take out the effects that the individual fermenter geometry would play. It doesn’t, however, take into account the fermentation kinetics of that much head space and how the fermentations react/behave as such. This is something that is very easy to fix but at the same time this would not in and of itself ruin the experiment.
Re the summary – I’m not being snarky but I understand what you mean so let me explain further. You may have known what you were trying to do but in your summary and presentation it focuses on the difference between pitch rate and nothing to do with using a starter. Moreover, the starter creation is flawed as I have said before. Add to this there was no non-starter control making there no way that one can draw any solid conclusions. Let me put it a different way. What if I was trying to see if it was faster to ‘go by foot’, to ride a bike or drive a car through London in the same manner this experiment is done? I would have the car and the bike only competing. The car finishing the fastest followed by the bike shows absolutely nothing to do with how long it takes to ‘go by foot’. Does that make more sense?
Re ascertaining new knowledge from this experiment – you make a statement I hear a lot, ‘…I learned some things as a result.’ You may very well have learned things as a result but what are those things? One never really every ‘proves’ anything when doing experiments only basically disproves things. Read back through your notes, see what you can find. Go back over my points and see what you can improve. One of the most important things that I haven’t touched on are the number of repeats you did with this experiments. Meaning how many of each did you do in duplicate, triplicate, etc. The reason we do this is b/c single experiments are inherently flawed. Even if you kept everything the same it would have been better to do 2 sets of 3 one gallon fermenters.
Re the ‘its only beer’ theory – If people put the time and energy into doing an experiment, they, just like me, don’t want to be wasting their time. On top of that people brewing beer don’t want to be wasting their time. I very much understand that a lot of this technical knowledge hasn’t been seen by the average home brewer. Any sort of experiment people love. However one needs to take everything with a grain of salt. Does it make sense? Was it carried out well? Etc etc. This may be only beer but don’t tell me that if some dude did an experiment saying that olive oil should be put into a beer and then there is really no need for oxygen that if the beer then went south and wasn’t shelf stable people wouldn’t be pissed! BTW – this last one happened. Research New Belgium olive oil. A dude wrote his Masters on it if I’m not mistaken.
Please keep up this conversation as it helps everyone out.