Circularity & testing.

Tom DiBenedetto tdib at UMICH.EDU
Mon Oct 21 09:02:38 CDT 1996

On Mon, 21 Oct 1996 09:26:36 -0400, MAGarland at wrote:

>What's ridiculous is the typical interpretation of the pattern: the user of
>the parsimony technique will publish a tree or trees based on these random
>data and this will become accepted as the "true" or "best" phylogeny by other

What do you mean "these random data"? All systematists that I am
aware of spend 99.99% of their research time studying organisms.
Entering data into a computer and running the program is a trivial
task.  I dont think it fair to assume that the data is random.

  People who use parsimony (in systematics) assume that
>evolution has produced any pattern they see in their data--and there is no
>way to prove otherwise under parsimony (unless additional data reveal
>"incongruencies").  The whole process is designed so that you'll find what
>you're looking for--a pattern produced by phylogeny--whether it's there or
>not.  Hey, it might work much of the time--but it might not, either.  How can
>you know?

Absolutely? You cant of course. But you certainly can bring to bear
all of your knowledge in the formulation of the hypotheses which you
will submit to the algorithm. What more could you expect?
Tom DiBenedetto
Fish Division
Museum of Zoology
University of Michigan

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