My white paper on the Taxonomic Impediment

Elaine Hoagland elaine at ASCOLL.ORG
Wed Oct 30 15:56:46 CST 1996

I was off taxacom for a while, due to travels.  I hear you've been talking
about the white paper I wrote and ASC published in the October NL.  The
white paper is being put up on our asc web site:  I have
asked for feedback, so do let me know what you think.  I wrote the paper
last spring, and sent it to the ASC board and a few others for comment.  I
only heard back from two individuals (with views 180 degrees apart!).  Time
passed, and the deadline came for the SBSTTA meeting, so with board
approval, I went ahead and released the paper.  But I thought that the
ideas really should receive more discussion, and I'm glad that some
taxacomers apparently agree.

The purpose of the paper was to get beyond the kind of public begging for
funds that scientists usually engage in; to get beyond the entitlement
mentality as well (ie, "we are great; our work is crucial; therefore you
should fund us").  I wanted to suggest that taxonomists can put themselves
in more of a position of control.  This is NOT something that ASC or any
other society or association can do for you, although we (or SSB, etc.) can
help organize you if that would be useful.  It may mean that taxonomists
need to work with a new kind of discipline and cooperation, essentially to
use a "cartel" mentality, to avoid under-valuation of the human resources
you provide the world (lawyers do this!).

I also want to clarify that I (and ASC) do government relations work for
systematics collections, rather than individual systematists.  However, we
do promote research funding programs for systematics.  We still believe in
government funding for collections, and for research.  A direct-charge
mechanism for bits of information is NOT what we are ultimately after;
rather, a valuation of work on many levels including public interest
funding ... from the single ID for APHIS or FWS to a ten-year
government-sponsored database on the plants of Hawaii, or permanent funding
for taxonomists and collections in state and federal agencies.

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