patronyms, ethics and certification

Luis Diego Gomez ldgomez at NS.OTS.AC.CR
Thu Feb 19 15:09:20 CST 1998

Some interesting points have been added to this discussion.

Patronyms are being "sold" in one way or another and to some extent when we
honor a grantor or funding agency for support to work where taxonomy becomes
involved. Let us hope taxonomists will always do their best regardless of
the money involved.

the ethical question is an excellent one. In Costa Rica, a person graduating
goes through something like the Hyppocratic Oath of medical schools,
promising to maintain the highest standards in her/his new profession.
Incorporation to a professional college e.g. National College of Physicias,
N. C. of Odontologists, N.C. of Biologists, etc. also requires a minimum set
of ethical standards, at least in my country.

Certification, which to me is more or less equivalent to the bar exam at the
State or Federal level, is another thing. Who certifies a taxonomist? The
ability to do taxonomy goes beyond the ability to use a key in graduate
school. It is a developing art. So who certifies who and when? And who on
this Earth can say "your naming this Aa bb is wrong"? If we were talking
about a very well known fauna or flora, that may apply. But if you are
dealing with rather unknown groups, say the species of Phormidium algae in
Amazonia or Antarctica, where is the basis for any of us to say that Mr/Ms.
Smith should not be certified?

Unions is some fashion already exist. If you send a specimen for ID to the
Commonwealth Mycological Institute they charge you for the report and they
charge you dearly, too. Then, the people running the union will request a %
and very soon we will see taxonomical Hoffa- syndromes. Certification as a
sine qua non for publication will be worse for the advancement of science in
genral than coping with a few bad taxonomists is today.

We better leave the codes alone. They can function just fine with or without
certified taxonomists.
Luis Diego Gomez
Academia Nacional de Ciencias, Costa Rica
Director, Estacion Las Cruces & Wilson Botanic Garden
Organization for Tropical Studies, Inc.
Mail ldgomez at
Facsimile: ++ (506)- 773-3665
Telephone: ++ (506)- 773-4004

P.O.Box 73- 8257 Coto Brus, Costa Rica

Interlink 341. POBox 025635
Miami, FL 33102-5635

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