Mark and Tom (classificatory needs)

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 2 10:23:39 CST 2000

     I was really struck (but not surprised) by the huge gulf that separates
the classificatory needs just expressed by Mark Garland on the one hand, and
Tom DiBenedetto on the other.  With these various needs, coupled with the
explosion of new information, I sometimes find it amazing that the Linnaean
System has made it this far.
     But it is worth saving, and those who want to abandon the Linnaean
System simply haven't seen the Kinman System (modified Linnaean), although
there might be a few who just want novelty for the sake of novelty (none of
those on Taxacom that I am aware of).
     I understand why Tom wants to pack as much evolutionary information as
possible into a classificaion (it's very predictive ad heuristic, among
other things).   I want that information in there too, but to do that by
"formally" splitting ranks and taxa is something that will never end.   We
must now put that information in there in a new way that is "partially
decoupled" from the formal nomenclature.
     I have been using the Kinman System since the late 1970's, and no
matter how much information I want to pack in my classification, I was able
to do it without sacrificing the stability of the formal nomenclature.  It
is true that my "emended endings" are controversial, but I simply
consistently applied what others have started (Treatise on Invert. Paleont.
series; etc.), and tried to speed up the transition somewhat.
     The strict cladists must come to the realization that the rest of us
are losing patience, their classifications will never stabilize (however
much they want to believe that they would eventually), and the backlash is
gaining momentum.
     Eclecticists, on the other hand, must make an effort to meet them in
the middle.  That is why I would encourage the universal use of Kinman
markers (semi-paraphyletic markers) whenever one classifies a traditional
paraphyletic group.
     The cladists are right.  The traditional class Reptilia is incomplete,
and we have to put in such markers  for descendants (e.g., for birds and
mammals) to make them complete.  That is the very heart of the Kinman
System.  If cladists don't like my coding, they can put abbreviated
"cladogram lines" to the left instead of code (or separate cladograms when
     Of course, the many "identifiers" (like Mark) don't have to worry about
the coding and the markers.  They just want relatively stable natural taxa.
It is unfair of strict cladists to continue destabilizing the "filing
system" with endless new subfiles, changing names of files to meet their own
needs only, and never settling on one system long enough for anyone else to
learn it (much less get much use from it).  It's endless.
     The Kinman System is a middle ground that will work, once it's
advantages are perceived and put into practice.  So, watch out, I will be
criticizing eclecticists who don't put those markers into paraphyletic
groups (or overuse paraphyletic groups just to avoid the work involved in
cladistic analyses).   And on the other side, I will be criticizing those
cladists who continue their oversplitting ways.
     Eventually we might even have a huge "middle class" of
cladisto-eclecticists.  Maybe I'm a dreamer, but wouldn't it be nice to
argue about more important matters.  Evolutionists can still argue over what
coding sequence (or cladogram) is best, but wouldn't a relatively stable
formal nomenclature be a refreshing thing to have---a filing system that
would meet everybody's needs.
                       --------Ken Kinman
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