New thread: The Felsenstein-Zone

Doug Yanega dyanega at MONO.ICB.UFMG.BR
Wed Dec 10 18:51:56 CST 1997

Thomas Schlemmermeyer wrote (and just two days before I leave, so I can't
follow where this develops, argh!)

>3.) A very intelligent, old systematist (Padre Moure) presented an oral
>   comunication at the Ribeirao Preto-Bee Congress in 1996, saying that
>   actually only the Felsenstein-package was able to correctly recognize
>   the phylogenetic groupings he constructed artificially.
>4.) Thiago, an intelligent student, told me, that this was purpose. Padre
>   Moure already did know the weaknesses of the programs before and
>   constructed with purpose taxons which could only be recognized by the
>   Felsenstein-programs.

I spent an entire day arguing with Padre Moure about this, and yes, he
pretty much did construct his pseudo-taxa in such a way that only
neighbor-joining algorithms would retrieve the "correct" grouping. The
bottom line for Padre Moure is that no other methods besides
neighbor-joining give you ONE tree at the end of the analysis, and to him,
that's what matters. If your algorithm gives you one tree where the others
do not, it must be the best algorithm. End of story. He *is* incredibly
intelligent, and evidently taught himself a heap of different programming
languages SOLELY so he could figure out what all the different phenetic and
phylogenetic programs were doing, but when push came to shove, the above
was the main thing for him - to him, it was all a matter of logic, and
neighbor-joining is the most logical approach.

Just my little contribution. Myself, I think the Padre is one of the most
remarkable people I've ever met, and he has nothing but my utmost respect
(except for his habit of putting holotype labels and names on things
without publishing them). ;-)


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 031-449-2579, fax: 031-441-5481  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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