Nameless Taxonomy and Senseless Babble

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Mon Feb 3 12:25:34 CST 2003

I agree both with Richard Zander's comments, and Tom Lammers' below.  I
think I was at fault in not being more explict in my line that Richard

"We now find ourselves struggling to merge the knowledge of the past
(written in Latin nomenclature), with the knowledge of the present (written
in DNA sequences and cladograms)."

As I wrote to him off-list earlier this morning, whereas the DNA sequences
are indeed a form of "factual" knowledge (assuming they are not in error),
the cladograms are obviously an example of communicating pattern (i.e.,
hypotheses), rather than fact.

Also, I didn't mean to imply that DNA sequences and cladograms constituted
the *only* sort of "knowledge" of the present -- just a form of knowledge
that wasn't available throughout most of the history of latin nomenclature.
the main point was that the nomenclature and the cladograms are the
mechanisms we use to put the factual knowledge into context; rather than
constituting factual knowledge themselves.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG]On Behalf Of
> Thomas Lammers
> Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 9:10 AM
> Subject: Re: Nameless Taxonomy and Senseless Babble
> At 07:22 AM 2/3/03 -0600, Richard Zander wrote:
> >Facts are well documented observations, and inferred patterns
> are one step
> >removed. Although theories can be validly called knowledge when well
> >documented and proven valuable in predictions, most DNA-based cladograms
> >are not quite yet promoted to the status of "knowledge."
> I would consider the actual nucleotide sequences to be "fact" and the
> cladograms derived from these facts to be hypotheses in need of testing.
> 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.
> Webpages:
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> "Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
>                                                                --
> Anonymous

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