crocodile tears

B. J. Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Mon Feb 7 09:45:06 CST 2000

Curtis Clark wrote

>It seems to me that scientific study is never theory-neutral: what we look
>for is shaped by what we expect to find. Systematists that claim to study
>nature in a theory-neutral fashion are in fact merely failing to recognize
>or acknowledge the theories they use.

I have been battling with this for some time now. It would seem that both
phenetic and cladistic methodology picked up on being "theory-free", but
then I seemed to have spent quite some time reading about the underlying
theory in order to understand how it works. I came to the conclusion that
what most people mean is not that it is "free of theory", but that the
minimum number of assumptions are being made, which is something different.
Brian Tindall

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