Weights, probability

Richard Zander bryo at AGIS.AG.NET
Mon Mar 3 23:25:14 CST 1997

The heavy discussion on weighting characters has tended finally to light
upon phylogenetic differences in character importance. Now, I figure
that, since we don't know the mutation rates of state changes in the
different character we use, we pretty much depend on Keynes' "princicple
of indifference" which says if we don't know the different importances
of various variable, use equal importance since there is a good chance
it will average out. This is pooh-poohed by experts in probability with
good reason, so what have we other than a system of classification with
good Darwinian intentions ("like produces like") and a whole lot of
argument about the relationships of details for which we have no
information. Method alone guarantees precision not truth.


Richard H. Zander, Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14211 USA bryo at ag.net

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