Thomas Pape thomas.pape at NRM.SE
Tue Jun 17 16:54:32 CDT 1997

At 11.12 1997-06-17 -0300, Doug Yanega wrote:

>I think the present example is one which
>offers a good reason why subjectivity DOES have a place, myself. A
>systematist can publish the shortest tree in the results section, yet still
>go into a discussion of why he/she doesn't believe it should be accepted at
>face value. That seems like honest science, to me.

Sure - but this is not a "good reason why subjectivity DOES have a place" in
systematics. Nothing needs to be "accepted at face value", not even shortest
trees. A random collection of data is likely to produce one shortest tree,
but this does not mean that we would have to accept it.

Recent progress in calculating branch support (decay index, bootstrapping,
jackknifing) actually gives us the opportunity to obtain absolute support
measures for particular clades.

And for this very same reason we need not base our decisions on subjectivity
- apart, of course, from the naming of (paraphyletic) groups.

Thomas Pape

Thomas Pape
Department of Entomology
Swedish Museum of Natural History       Voice: +46 8666 4094
Box 50007                               Fax:   +46 8666 4099
S - 104 05 Stockholm, SWEDEN            e-mail: thomas.pape at

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