Felsenstein versus Ockham

Thomas Schlemmermeyer termites at USP.BR
Fri Jan 22 16:09:26 CST 1999

  Dear All,

  This thread has been played on this list already some time ago. But
  I haven't had that much theoretical trainig at that time, so, maybe,
  it is worth to play it again, eventually with somewhat different points
views and new insights.

  Cladists, to my knowledge, apply the principle of maximum parsimony
  (Ockham's razor) because of some rather complicated reasons, but in normal
  everyday use simply because it is simple to use maximum parsimony.

  Geneticists of the Felsenstein-Type, on the other hand, argue that there
  are many simple reasons, why maximum parsimony can lead to the wrong tree.
  I am now lazy and reading this famous book about comparative biology
  by Harvey and Page. They promote a rather equilibrated approach between
  gene statisticians of the Felsenstein-school and strict cladists of
  the Farris, Nelson and Co-school.

  It seems to me that the problem of reconstruction of evolutionary history
  is (according to this famous book by Harvey) that the lab annotations
  got lost. It is like reconstructing an experiment with bad protocols.

  So, how good are statistical approaches to evolutionary history and how
  good is maximum parsimony, and how to choose?

       Cheers,    Thomas

Thomas Schlemmermeyer
Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de Sco Paulo
Caixa Postal 42694
CEP 04299-970
Sco Paulo, SP, Brasil

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