Cyperales or Juncales?

Jim Croft jrc at ANBG.GOV.AU
Mon Jul 8 07:05:49 CDT 2002


absolutely right Peter, especially the later...

but what REALLY matters is knowledge and understanding; honest belief and
blind faith make you feel better but they do not matter... we can 'know'
only characters, we can even think we understand them, but phylogeny is
always inferred...

So much of the recent (and past and long past) discussion on Taxacom on
matters taxonomic, phylogenetic and biogeographic (and various combinations
of these) glosses over, blurs or ignores the important boundary between
knowledge and belief.  We can *know* a specimen has a character or
combination of characters, we can know a specimen came for a certain place
at a certain time, but we can only *believe* that a bunch of specimens is
of the same species with a certain combination of characters, that a
species has a certain occurrence and distribution, that species have
certain phylogenetic and other relationships to each other... we believe
not because it is right or true, but because it works for us at one or more
levels... the important thing is to acknowledge the transition from
knowledge to belief and the degree of uncertainty, aggregation, summary,
opnion, lost knowledge and false knowledge involved in this
transition...  the distinction between dispassionate scientific observation
(knowledge) and alchemy, astrology and palmistry (belief - name your
poison) is not always clear - somewhere in between lies understanding...

Knowledge and understanding is not much good without communication and the
politely (or not...) agreed fiction of hierarchy of named categories still
seems the best method to achieve that...  :)


~ Jim Croft ~ jrc at ~ 02-62465500 ~ ~

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