On saying, “do your research!”


Chameleon Enthusiast
The demand to do your research is a fair one. The perennial situation of an impulse buy, and then an appeal to social media is an ongoing concern. However, I have read numerous posts where a new owner has been chastised for, not failing to do some research, but failing to do the right research. I wonder what options a new chameleon owner has here?

  1. Go on social media and ask for information. But that is a no-go according to some experts, since the forums and Facebook are both replete with bad information and non-credible sources.
  2. Search the internet? Hit and miss. You might come across some rare open-access peer reviewed articles, but chances are you’ll find the same shallow and uninformed sources so often touted as fact on the social media sources above.
  3. Spend some serious $ for academic access to the few peer reviewed journal articles that focus on chameleons. (I know this to be true, since I spent hundreds of dollars for access to the research I read, and cited in my blogs. )
  4. Visit the sites that the experts on social media tell you to visit to hear “the truth” about chameleon husbandry.
  5. Quit your job, find a financier, and embark on your own chameleon research program. This will involve on-the-ground, hands-on research in Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, the Seychelles, Southern Europe, etc.

So where exactly is the layman supposed to research “correctly?” My guess is that some folks who make this demand on the average everyday owner, have no idea which of 1-5 they mean. A few, however, mean # 4. And, unsurprisingly, the sites they want you to look at are their own sites.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of the sites I have in mind are chalk full of accurate and important information. However, good academic progress typically involves several well thought-out sources—often at odds with one another—that spur their respective research on by challenging the views therein. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case with these sites.

So, when an actual chameleon expert demands that someone do their research, what do they have in mind? Should their interlocutor enrol in a university program to gain academic access to peer reviewed articles, or spend the money for subscriptions to the same? Or perhaps they should take time off work/quit their jobs, find a financier and go to Africa to study chameleons, hands-on...assuming they know how to conduct proper scientific field studies? Or should they try their best to glean the kernel of truth they can from any open access articles they can find—only to have that shot down by the very expert that has told them to do better research? Or, just maybe, what these experts have in mind is to default automatically to their websites and research without question and without critical thought.

Look, there is a ton of good information on many of the sites I have in mind here, but the process that is proffered to arrive at these sites is just about as far from the kind of good academic dialectic that one can get. The hobbyist has very few reasonable avenues for independent research to hope for the kind of informed view that can withstand oppositional scrutiny.

Yes, folks should research to the best of their abilities. But it’s just not true that everyone has reasonable access to the same data that some experts demand everyone consult...Unless, of course, these experts mean, “consult my summary of the data you do not have access to.” So, for instance, when someone goes to the trouble of researching e.g. the weather conditions in, say, Madagascar, Yemen or Kenya—even if that information doesn’t accurately reflect the specific biotopes whence the relevant species come—it seems demeaning and pejorative to say, “stop spreading lies”, or “what you say is totally false”, or “by saying this you are responsible for the death of any chameleons whose owners read your post.”

Sure, the OP in this situation should have said something like, “I’m not actually sure of the best temps for your cham, but I did a quick search for the relevant areas, and found these numbers,” instead of saying, “your numbers look good when I compare them to the weather report for the area where your species is found.” But that doesn’t warrant a tirade about the intellectual honesty of the poster! Someone really interested in moving the community forward would respond to such statements by saying things such as, “it’s great you did some research here, but as it turns out the relevant species actually occupies specific microclimates within the larger areas you mentioned; and in my experience these are the actual conditions in said microclimates.”

We’re in decade 3 of online interaction, and digital diplomacy/tact is hardly a difficult concept—especially for folks who tout intellectual expertise. I’m really sick of intellectual bullying, and chameleon god-complexes! Furthermore, “language barriers” are no excuse. If one’s grasp of any particular language results in an inability to be civil, then it behooves the writer/speaker to ameliorate whatever impediments to civility his/her language skills engender. Sure, it is also incumbent on the listener/reader to grant a certain amount of leeway to the speaker/writer; but when it comes to intellectual bullying, there’s only so many times the self-proclaimed intellectual can hide behind a language barrier. Likewise, to appeal to the fact that tone, emphasis and intention are lost in written text is only an excuse for so long—the internet is not new, and people have been writing letters for over 2000 years, so figure it out.

Just be better, experts
I know I'm occasionally guilty of saying do your research but not directing the person to where to research.
There is a lot of good information out there but how can we expect a newbie to sort the truth from the lies??

I do believe that you make better progress helping the newbies get on the right track if you offer information in the right way ....and with an attitude that doesn't get people's backs up. As they say, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. You can win people to your side more easily by gentle persuasion and flattery than by hostile confrontation.

We should be better at helping people find the right answers.
I think the tone in which you type has so much influence. I think most people forget that in this age of texting, emoji's and shorthand. I was raised that kindness costs us nothing. While I have my own moments where I could be more gentle in my explanation I also find what I am explaining to be very repetitive. So I have to remind myself each time this is a new person that I am helping to understand. I try to always remember that it is intimidating to come here and post. I think we forget how hard it is when your first starting out in this hobby.

I still have moments of WTF and that is when I find myself leaning in to the community here. I do not do well with aggressive feedback and I have a hard time with the newbies that come in and do not want to listen because they read an article that was incorrect or listened to a breeder that was incorrect. But I still try.

I do struggle when it comes to taking someones word for something without anything to back it up. As if it is the rule and only their info is the correct way.

It is funny because the one thing that has become so glaringly clear to me the last 2 years here is that there are many ways to achieve the same goals in husbandry. It is never a one size fits all approach.

I think ones intentions have to be clearly split to be effective in educating others in this hobby. You need to care about the chameleon getting the right husbandry but you also have to care about the keeper providing the husbandry. Or at least that is my opinion lol.
It’s an interesting conversation.

your options for research are well plotted out I think. I’m pretty dissatisfied with the Facebook groups that essentially disregard discussion and give care advice without source
You can google your way to good sources, but you need good questions
And as far 3-5 go, I would guess most people don’t care or want to know why, so a Facebook army of caresheet regurgitators is all they need

I love the discussions that try to parse out the details. I want to know why, and don’t react well to “because I say so”

I’m very new to the chameleon hobby, but I’m not new to doing a little research. I started off with your average google search to find information. Luckily I found my way into the chameleon academy and here pretty early. I found a source in the chameleon academy that told me to ask why, and I found a group here that also has members that are asking these same questions, or just dropping knowledge out of the sky for us (@kinyonga)

One of the big problems is early on you don’t even know what the questions are or what to research. And when you do come up with research, if you aren’t in that group’s box of care parameters you may get told how horrible whatever it is you’re doing. If you ask why, you may hear that if you’re not willing to take advice god help you and you’re animal. This isn’t very helpful. Good care advice should include sources for more detailed information. The people that do the heavy lifting helping on the site don’t have time to explain each aspect of care, but should be ready to send new keepers to places where they can dig in for more info. Which will be whatever they consider reliable 1? 2? 3?, etc

In regards to the experts, I suspect they feel similar to @Beman in that they’re saying the same thing over and over again and become frustrated by it, but like she says each new person will have similar questions and require similar guidance.

I think I read the post you’re speaking of. There were problems with the interaction on many sides. The expert did not reply in an appropriate fashion, the OP did not respond to being challenged in an appropriate fashion, and the lookers on stirred the pot. Two people saying “you’re wrong, nope you’re wrong” does not make for stimulating discussion. When I see these conversations, I start googling, but I have the right question and can usually source some information

I also agree that “don’t be an a-hole” is a decent approach to all human and non-human interactions.

@Beman brings up another great point that there are a lot of ways to be successful at this, and it’s unlikely anyone has the only path to success.

I wish the experts would produce their sources and data for us. It would be fun to poor through
You said..."I suspect they feel similar to @Beman in that they’re saying the same thing over and over again and become frustrated by it, but like she says each new person will have similar questions and require similar guidance"...I feel like this all the time.

You said..."@Beman brings up another great point that there are a lot of ways to be successful at this, and it’s unlikely anyone has the only path to success"... This is so true IMHO. Experience and trial and error (unfortunately) are what we often have to go through to figure things out. Also...where you live and your environment there play a part too.

You said..."One of the big problems is early on you don’t even know what the questions are or what to research"...so true too.

You said..."The people that do the heavy lifting helping on the site don’t have time to explain each aspect of care"...I try to ...sometimes...but sometimes, I just don't want to have to say it all again....and I'm not organized enough to type it out once and store it somewhere where I can just cut and paste it in. :(
Very often I think there’s a lack of understanding what the goal of some posts are. Too many times someone (often a child) shows up with a too young chameleon who is refusing to eat it’s mealworms in it’s bare chameleon kit set up. The goal is to teach basic correct husbandry needed to keep the poor chameleon alive and hopefully healthy. While it’s nice to know the conditions of the chameleon in it’s native habitat, explaining all of that to an already overwhelmed noob isn’t necessary. If they stick around, ask questions and after correcting all of their husbandry, they may then be interested in the whys and discussion of various methods of how and yes, maybe looking further into things on their own.
It’s enough to say not to feed a certain bug because it doesn’t provide enough nutrition. We don’t need to go into the nutritional analysis of said bug, the length and physiology of it’s digestive tract and then go into the specific and detailed nutritional needs of the chameleon. Let’s save that kind of stuff for their own posts.
Very well put by everyone. I know that if I hadn’t have found this forum then I wouldn’t have the healthy girl I do, because everything the previous owner had and did was incorrect.

Thank you to all the experienced people on here that spare there time to help newbies out, constantly repeating themselves especially with the chameleon death kit.

I know since being on here I am constantly questioning and wanting to find out more. Although the majority of people on here are from the US I find that this forum is more informative and helpful than the uk sites and fb groups.

Once you do start digging to find out more though it is like going down a rabbit hole, especially for people new to the hobby, as there is so much conflicting information as well as bad information.

What you all do on here is invaluable and has saved so many little lives. Thanks
The demand to do your research is a fair one.
Gee, I wonder who you're talking about... :unsure: :rolleyes:

Please pardon my rambling; there's a lot packed into that OP, and (unfortunately) I'm battling another wallbanger... ? But I didn't want to miss this one.

I've never claimed to be an expert on anything. Like most folks, I may just have some experiences or opinions to offer.

As one who's done "research" and monitored online discussions since ARPANET (early '80s in my case), IMO things haven't changed much—folks is folks, and likely always will be (It takes all kinds—viva free speech :)).

For the record, this forum and a few other small web-based forums are as close as I come to "social media". I watch vids on YouTube, but I don't post, and I don't participate in things like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

IME, the best articles and posters have always been those that provide citations or sources for "facts" & opinions they propound. I have always tried to follow this practice—sometimes linking to a particular source, and sometimes to a search (google or google scholar) if/when I think there may be differing information and/or opinions. It's not laziness or indifference on my part; I believe a variety of sources provide a more well-rounded exploration of a topic.

My own approach to research—online or otherwise—has evolved a starting point of, "I don't know what I don't know," which has & is serving me pretty well. I tend to follow my own example above and read/watch a variety of sources—probably more than most people have patience for in this era of instant answers & gratification. I was also raised in the '60s with a healthy (sometimes too healthy) dose of skepticism. :)

I've often answered queries from novices here with something like, "I think it would behoove you to peruse the entire contents of the Resources section of this site. That's what I did when I first signed up." I have no idea if anyone (besides myself) has actually done that. I know that the Resources may not be perfect, but IMO they are a good starting point, and not so intimidating (lengthy, in-depth) as some other (better?) commonly cited sources. Also (in my own case) those resources have sparked other questions I've pursued elsewhere. I find Wikipedia is a good starting point as well, and they do provide their sources.

...but sometimes, I just don't want to have to say it all again....and I'm not organized enough to type it out once and store it somewhere where I can just cut and paste it in. :(

It's been stored for you. I find the Search facility useful to find what I have said previously, whether copy/pasted or linked to. ;)

Good talk. :)
First off well spoken @Kaizen @Beman @DocZ @kinyonga and everyone else above.

I have 2 wrinkles to add:
  1. Why shouldn't someone walking into a Death Cage selling pet store believe the nice sales assistant who tells them what they "need". They got hamsters there and they did well in their little tubular habitat with their packaged diet. They have no reason to believe any differently. Folks should consider this before passing judgement.
  2. I get PM's frequently asking me "tell me what I need to know to keep a jackson's chameleon. I see this in threads also. Sometimes before but usually after the animal is failing. How am I supposed to answer that and care for my own animals? I send them links to care sheets that hopefully some of them read and tell them I will help them with specific questions when they have them. I never say do your research. It's a waste of keystrokes and is essentially closing the barn door after the horse has gotten loose. Save the chameleon let the creator sort the rest out.
Top Bottom