"paraphylophobia" and 30-Year War of Cladists vs. Eclecticists

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 13 12:17:55 CDT 1998


     A couple of years ago (my March 1996 paper if I recall correctly),
I began using the term "paraphylophobia" to describe the unfortunate
insistence of strict cladists that all taxa MUST be holophyletic
(strictly monophyletic) to be natural.  As far as I know, I was the
first person to coin this term (please inform me if anyone else used it
earlier).
     Cladistics is a methodological approach to analyzing biological
data, but to insist that strictly cladistic classifications are
inherently "better" or less arbitrary is short-sighted (both
philosophically and practically).  Ernst Mayr has cleverly coined the
term "cladifications" for such strictly cladistic classifications, but I
am sure paraphylophobia will continue to be strong, since a whole
generation of biologists have been taught that paraphyletic groups are
as bad as polyphyletic ones.  It's a shame.
     And this was one of the main reasons I developed the
cladisto-eclectic approach to classification (The Kinman System),
because it retains all of the advantages of [some] paraphyletic groups
without losing important sister group information.  A middle ground has
been available since 1994, but like the Hatfields and McCoys, cladists
and eclecticists have been fighting so long that many biologists (on
both sides) seem unwilling to seriously consider the advantages of my
system (or they just think that such a compromise system could not
possibly exist, and are too busy to even have their library order the
book).  Trying to be a diplomat can be a terribly lonely endeavor, but
such a system is inevitable if biological classifications are ever to
achieve some semblance of stability and usefulness.
                                 Sincerely, Kenneth E. Kinman
homepage:  www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/5074

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