(Fwd) Re: ATBI "Self-Destructs" and what we do

Dr. Nigel Barker barker at RHOBOT.RU.AC.ZA
Tue May 20 14:00:58 CDT 1997


Thomas Lammers wrote...

>As far as I'm concerned, these people are DOING systematics.  We may
>not like the kind of systematics they are doing.  It may not meet
>our exacting standards for scientific rectitude and it may not
>follow the currently accepted paradigm, but they are trying to find
>out What All This Stuff Is, and to me, that is a foundation block of
>systematics.   At the risk of putting words in their mouths, it
>seems to me that what they are saying to us is that the systematics
>community is spending too much time  and money sequencing molecules,
>calculating genetic identity values, maximizing parsimony, and
>determining priority of epithets, and not enough time out in the
>field learning the organisms and trying to create a workable
>universal classification system for the world's biota.

I agree with Thomas's first couple of points... it is systematics,
and the need to know "WATSI" is a strong driving force... but I would
like to know how one is going to produce a "workable classification
system" (by which I am, possibly erroniously, assuming means
"predictive") without adopting the principles of parsimony and all it
engenders...

I realise  this is a bit of a diversion off the initial thread,
but it did pique my interest. Obviously, I find myself rooted in (one
of) the  schools of cladistic methodology (about which one can argue
ad nauseum, and TAXACOM  is probably not the forum for this), but
would like to hear/read  various thoughts about what a "working
classification" is... see, I have just had to lecture this to
2nd year Botany students... maybe I can scrounge a few more ideas!

Regards,

Nigel

Dr Nigel Barker
Dept. Botany                 Phone: 27 461 318598
Rhodes University            Fax: 27 461 25524
Grahamstown
6140
South Africa

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