binomial elimination

Norman F. Johnson nfjohnso at POSTBOX.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU
Fri Mar 17 19:04:37 CST 1995

I'm not sure I really want to dive into this discussion, but I've never been
known for discretion, so....

All of this talk of binomials vs. uninomials (monomials?), and numbers seems
to me to be missing the point.  I didn't save Kris's original text, so if I
am missing the point - have mercy.

Item 1:  If we're using the computer resources now available, it doesn't
make *any* difference if "identifiers" are binomials, monomials, or numbers.
The machine just stores them as bits.  So abandoning the present system for
a unique number is worthless: we already (implicitly) have numbers (as I
think a previous poster noted).

Item 2:  The real problem is that a static name cannot entirely reflect a
dynamic evolutionary entity.  I don't care if it's a number, a common name,
or a binomial.  Yet we have to have some sort of label in order to
communicate with one another. Hence the confusion between the word "species"
as a unit of evolution, and the word "species" as a unit of nomenclature.  I
would have thought that the systematic community would be able to deal with
this, but either I'm confused or some others are (probably the former!). So
if systematists cannot talk to one another with a common understanding,
perhaps Kris has a legitimate point. That's certainly not the conclusion I
thought I would come to when I started this, but there it is.

Norm Johnson
Norman F. Johnson          e-mail: Johnson.2 at
Associate Professor        phone: (614)292-6595
Director, OSU Insect Coll. fax: (614) 292-7774

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