Science, real or otherwise

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Wed Apr 4 09:13:28 CDT 2001

Sorry that my hasty words have distracted from the critical topic.

It is as John has declared a matter of definitions, but I do believe most
readers of TAXACOM know that there are different kinds of activities
involved in Systematics / Taxonomy / Nomenclature. And while under a OEM
definition anything can be a SCIENCE, but I used "real" to distinguish that
"Science" Karl Popper et alia speaks of which involves observations,
hypotheses, etc., about the world, from nomenclature which is more of a
communication / language process for dissemination of that "real" science.
Sorry that that has caused confusion for some.

So, Thomas, yes anything and everything (including religion) can be "real"
science by OEM definition. OK, nomenclature is "real" science.

Smile :-) Now return to the topic of whether, to quote E.O. Wilson, this is
the time to re-write the operational manual for Titanic or should we just
use the old-standby Linnaean nomenclature and get on with describing the
disappearing biota or should we fight some more over "real" science. :-)

Oh, well ...

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at
visit our Diptera site at

>>> Thomas Lammers <lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU> 04/04 8:37 AM >>>
At 12:10 PM 4/4/01 +0100, it was written:

>  Chris Thompson's statement that nomenclature is not real science) is
> confusing nomenclature with taxonomy/systematics. I agree with Chris
> nomenclature is not real science

Excerpts from SCIENCE, in the Oxford English Dictionary (

  a. The state or fact of knowing; knowledge or cognizance of something
specified or implied; also, with wider reference, knowledge (more or less
extensive) as a personal attribute.

   2. a. Knowledge acquired by study; acquaintance with or mastery of any
department of learning. Also pl. (a person's) various kinds of knowledge.

    3. a. A particular branch of knowledge or study; a recognized
department of learning.

   If someone would please point out to me just where nomenclature fails
these qualifications to be "real science", I will accept the
contention.  Otherwise, I must consider the put-down to be mere academic

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.
"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous

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