Numeric taxonomy

Sat Mar 18 17:48:45 CST 1995

Gee, it seems to me we have a perfect idea for those who object to mutable and
understandable names, first we enter the current name into a computer without
a space between the genus and species name, then simply use the resulting storage system of zeros and ones that the computer actually stores.  While this is
absurd, it would work, and would satisfy those anti-Linnaeans who simply want
something modern.

Simply put, here is the deal.  A binomial allows you a moniker to covey a proper
noun-derivable concept to me.  Proper nouns are part of the hard wiring of the
human brain (read The Song Lines by Bruce Chatwick, the Log From the Sea of Cortez
 by Steinbeck, or Alice in Wonderland even).  Without a name, a person does not
exist (see Orwell).  The legalisms of nomenclature are a bore, and often don't
work to everyone's satisfaction, but it does provide a language to convey
identity of the conceptual "thing" being discussed.  The "generic" meaning of
the genus, coupled with the "specific" meaning of the species does an admirable
job of this.  You have the "generic" Leechs, and the "specific" one, Robin.
This has meaning -- Robin belongs to the Leech group (family).  Addoption and
false passports may lead to non-monophyletic groups, but the overall usefullness
remains.  I realize that in botany, the nomenclature system is worse off than
in zoology, but it does still work.  I suggest that if anyone can put together
a system that allows the same usefullness and convienience of the Linnean
system, and even one further advantage, it will take over.  This is called
survival of the fittest!

[sorry about the typos, my editor is on the fritz]

Mike Ivie
Department of Entomology
Department of Entomology

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