Ashlock was treated badly

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 7 16:07:35 CST 2002

     Whether you want to call it a redefinition or a "refinement", either
way it has reduced the precision of the term monophyletic (thus I don't use
it).  The "Holo" in holophyletic explicitly indicates a "Whole" complete
group, in contrast with monophyletic (mono means one, as in having one
origin, which says nothing about the group being whole or complete).
     Ashlock's proposal was totally logical and practical, but unfortunately
went against the grain of strict cladists who are completely intolerant of
any formal paraphyletic groupings.  The strict cladists got their way, so
they could brand paraphyletic groups as "non-monophyletic", and since they
are "incomplete" they should be branded as unnatural and destroyed.  So the
current imprecision is the fault of the strict cladists, and calling it
"refining" of a definition looks to me like blatant spin-doctoring.
              ------- Ken
P.S.  And it strikes me as odd that Ashlock's attempt at precision should be
regarded as illogical or unwarranted, and yet precision suddenly becomes
important when cladists want to distinguish "adjacency" and "directionality"
of character states.  In most fields of human endeavour, "ordering"
encompasses both adjacency and directionality.  I think Mr. Spock would ask
why you don't consider your "polarization" as a part of "ordering".
     In any case, if such precision of terminology is so important for the
relationships between character states, how can one deny the need for a
precise term like "holophyly" (which deals with something even more
important--- the relationships of taxa)?  I don't see how such inconsistency
can be justified, and what was done to Ashlock was unfair to him, and it was
detrimental to the clarity of scientific discourse.

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