How to be taxonomist in a non-taxonomic world?

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Jan 29 07:31:44 CST 1999


On Fri, 29 Jan 1999, Thomas Schlemmermeyer wrote:

>  Recently it was deplored: The gradual extinction of taxonomists.

I think you are referring to my posting.

>  Often
>  the guilt has been put on the external conditions, no one dared to accuse
>  the taxonomists themselves for their tragedy.

On the contrary, right here on Taxacom, over the years, and as recently
as a few months ago, people have dared to accuse taxonomists for their
inability to "reach out" and service the needs of the larger world
community. Others argued that was just b.s.

> However, science (in the world I lived so far, at least, i. e. Brazil
> and Germany) is said to be hypotheto-deductive. The models and
> theories must be widereaching, predictions always have to be made
> (even if their use may be in doubt),

There's been a little talk on Taxacom and elsewhere that the
phylogenetic model and classificaton may have some redeeming value as a
predictive source  :>)

> the results have to get in fast
> (for whatever they may serve...).

Now, there's the catch. Either make each taxonomist work faster, or
train and hire more taxonomists.

>  Taxonomy, however, needs patience and descriptive skills.

Yes. And much more.

>  So, besides the self-regret and crying, are there any practical hints,
>  or suggestions, how to be a taxonomist in a primarily non taxonomic
>  world?

Taxonomists aren't unique in this respect. How does one be a lawyer in a
primarily non lawyer world? (You plug in the profession of your choice)
It's not an issue of self-regret and crying. It's a fact --there are not
enough taxonomists/systematists/classifiers to make a dent in the
still-unknown. On the other hand, we certainly know more than we, as a
world society, are willing to intelligently put into wise use! So, maybe
the taxonomists' major failing is, as has also often been pointed out,
lack of salesmanship. I don't think so --the enterprise has had and
continues to have the most eloquent sales people on Earth, e.g., E.O.W.
Apparently, that's not enough to scare the world into making a path to
the taxonomist's doorstep --people are too busy making a buck raping the
planet. Who needs a taxonomist to assit in doing that?

 Peter




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