horrible cladists, was Re: paraphyletic Rodentia??

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Thu Oct 14 21:27:27 CDT 1999

At 10:43 AM 10/14/99 -0700, Ken Kinman wrote:
> Unfortunately, students who are taught by strict cladists
>do not always learn the distinction between polyphyly and paraphyly, and
>since many cladists are taught that they are equally "bad" and equally
>"unnatural", there is an increasing tendency to mistakenly say paraphyly
>when one means polyphyly, and vice versa.

Ken, I told myself that I should stop responding to your posts, but I can't
let this one go by. Your claims of working for the "middle ground" ring
hollow when you continue to make general derogatory statements about
cladists (honestly, I think you go easier on the creationists). I'm a
"strict cladist" (whatever that means), and proud of it (I think...), and I
teach paraphyly and polyphyly correctly. Yes, it's true that we flaming
radicals teach that they are distinguishable only through explicit
statements of ancestry, but my students, at least, are not confused (or
perhaps they are so cowed by authority that their confusion doesn't show).

Once, many years ago, a graduate student whom I respected wrote in her
evaluation of my systematics class that I never presented any ideas other
than my own. Somehow she failed to notice that I had taught her how to make
phenograms a la Sokal and Sneath, I had taught the BSC (which I disdain)
from primary sources, and I had explained compatibility analysis and convex
groups (now there's your *real* paraphyly, explicit enough for anyone). But
because I taught cladistics (back when it was not so widespread) and
because I actually expressed an opinion about it, she was upset.

Prediction: in 25 years there won't be any "cladists". There won't be any
need for the term. They will be called "systematists".

Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Biological Sciences Department             Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University      FAX: (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at csupomona.edu

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