FWD>RE>FWD>True phylogenies

Leonard Krishtalka kris at FALCON.CC.UKANS.EDU
Sat Jul 29 18:02:23 CDT 1995


On Fri, 28 Jul 1995, Warren Lamboy wrote:

> No one seems to fret about the assumptions inherent in phylogeny
> reconstruction methods.  Possibly this is because it is difficult to state
> exactly what they are.

        Not so. The three-word statement

        "Nature is parsimonious"

should cover it.  In the case of phylogeny reconstruction, the statment
becomes "Evolution is/was parsimonious".

        "Nature is parsimonious" is the elemental, overriding assumption
(hypothesis) not only behind phylogeny reconstruction but behind all of
science.  William of Occam stated it more eloquently hundreds of years
ago, and since then all scientists have shaved with Occam's Razor (pardon
the mixed metaphor, but it was too obvious to pass up).  Much of science,
then, is the discovery (quantitative and qualitative) of how far/often
nature has strayed from pure parsimony.

        Krishtalka
        Natural History Museum
        The University of Kansas

        "Nature is not as simple as its observers"




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