horrible cladists, was Re: paraphyletic Rodentia??

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 15 13:13:51 CDT 1999

     I didn't think my statement was that "derogatory", nor was it as
"general" as you seem to think.  Students "do not always" learn the
distinction, and "many" cladists are taught that paraphyly is as unnatural
as polyphyly (I've read it and heard it being done).
      As for being harder on strict cladists than on creationists, you've
simply never heard me arguing with a creationist pretending to be a
scientist (like Gish and his ilk).  I saw Gish "debate" at the University of
Kansas back in the 1970's (mostly with Larry Martin), and assuming this is
the same Gish you are going to be debating, I hope you verbally "mug" the
guy's arguments.  It is the majority of creationist parents who I try to
empathize with, not the likes of Gish.
     As for your graduate who complained, she probably would have been quite
happy to have been taught cladistic analysis by someone like Peter Ashlock
(as I was).  Peter is no long with us, but his views are clearly spelled out
in the systematics textbook by Mayr and Ashlock.  Although they are very
centrist in their approach, the Kinman System is a little more accomodating
to strict cladists (whether the latter realize it or not).  Even if strict
cladists aren't persuaded by Mayr and Ashlock concerning the need for (and
even naturalness of) paraphyletic groups, I cannot for the life of me
understand the reluctance to adopt semi-paraphyletic groups (where sister
group information is explicitly given).  But there is always hope a "middle
ground" can be agreed upon eventually.
    T.G.I.F., and hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend.
                     --------Ken Kinman

>From: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Reply-To: Curtis Clark <jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU>
>Subject: horrible cladists, was Re: paraphyletic Rodentia??
>Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 21:27:27 -0700
>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

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