Venal bugbears (was: Re: Paraphyly=mistakes? (There's the rub))

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Mon Jan 14 08:53:23 CST 2002

> Nevertheless -- while acknowledging that we can't know the
> deepest motives of a publishing biologist (and what's so venal
> about adding to one's CV?) -- I wonder just how prevalent this
> sin is.  Without pointing fingers, do Taxacomers have ongoing
> problems with this practice in their areas of specialty?

I was being a bit specious (pardon the pun) in my crack about the CV thing.
Are you asking the question in the sense of, "Do many taxonomists actually
try to get publications simply by exercising their right to slide a name up
and down an assumed phylogeny without changing the structure of that
phylogeny?"  If so, then I doubt it.  However, if your question is, "Does a
taxonomic community suffer the woes of nomenclatural instability when some
taxonomists chose to place a name at one position on an implied phylogenetic
tree, while others chose to place that name elsewhere on the exact same
implied phylogenetic tree?" ... then I think the answer is much closer to

> In the interest of making the strongest argument for a
> phylogeny-based taxonomy, I'd like to be sure we are not
> attacking a straw person.

Actually, I wasn't using the point you quoted as a justification for a
phylogeny-based taxonomy (I think that this reason, by itself, represents a
relatively weak justification).  I was using it to underscore the
differences in the way two-point name definitions carry different meanings
when compared to one-point name definitions.  I hope to elaborate on this in
a forthcoming response to Hovenkamp's most recent message. I will use the
subject line "Alternate Nomenclature" -- so, to the majority of list
subscribers who have no or waning interest in this thread, please position
your fingers over the "D" key accordingly...


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