Splitters and Lumpers

Geoff Witten gjw at RMIT.EDU.AU
Fri Feb 19 04:57:00 CST 1999

At 09:08 18/02/99 -0500, John Grehan wrote:
> At the risk of being branded elitist, I consider there is a case
>>for accepting only names published in professionally reviewed articles.
>This proposal may be ok for a level playing field, but I know of a case
>where a systematist was denied publication by a journal as a result of
>the author representing a different research perspective that was opposed
>by the reviewers and the editor just went along with it (my experience is
>there are quite a few editors who are either unable to think critically, or
>want to and will accept reviewer evaluation at face value). In order to get
>the names published the author turned to a society newsletter. All the
>got hot and bothered by this, but there was no outcry over the reason for its
>necessity. This occured in a country that was small enough not to provide a
>of alternative publication outlets and reviewers.

I did not intend to suggest that amateurs be banned from contributing.  I
am also well aware of the difficulties encountered in putting forward novel
views, which differ from those holding editorial power at the time.  My
suggestion was that publication without review raised many of the problems
raised correctly by Neil Snow.  Another problem, also raised earlier, was
that it is more likely that money will be forthcoming to describe new
names, but not so readily available to those who might wish to do a review
and quash the unwarrented names.

>I also would like to add my support to the value and status of
>"amateurs"outlined by
> avocet . I suppose I am one myself.
One of the paradoxes in my attitude to the Wells and Wellington saga is
that I offered to help him describe the one taxon I have since tried to
sink.  As far as I know he still has the two specimens of the beast I
collected and lent to him.

I think the enthusiasm of amateurs is a resource which should be encouraged
and nurtured.  Part of the assistance given has to involve advising against
describing colour morphs and clinal variation as full species.
Unfortunately there are those with a predisposition to paranoia who
interpret such caution in naming as professional jealosy.....

>Sincerely, John Grehan
Geoff Witten
Department of Human Biology and Movement Science
PO Box 71
BUNDOORA Victoria 3083
Ph 061 03 9925 7589
Fax 061 03 9467 8589

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