Blaming the victim (the Linnaean System)

Kipling Will kiplingw at NATURE.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Feb 10 10:03:45 CST 2003

I do understand that neither of us is talking about getting rid of the
group-within-group hierarchy or even the names for clades. The issue is
if there is enough value (information) and utility (helping our brains
to wrap around Nature) in formal ranks to keep up the effort to use
them. I think there is. One bit is in the explicit exclusive statement
that a formal rank makes. IF we agree or you find within one work, such
as a monograph, checklist or physical collection, that Insecta is a
Class, then all other classes of Animals are excluded. This is not a
trivial bit of information in my view. Of course, changing hypotheses on
relationships and grouping effects both ranked and unranked systems.

Certainly we don't need an nearly endless number of ranks to account for
every split. That is just a silly straw-man that Ken K. keeps throwing
around. I have yet to meet a cladist (from Ivory towers or otherwise)
that thinks this outdated proposition is realistic. Computers on the
other hand might do better at keeping track of numerically identified
clades (but that is a different issue altogether).

"Frederick W. Schueler" wrote:
> Kipling Will wrote:
> >
> > As you say the non-expert knows he/she has an Insect and so can
> > immediately discount all other Classes of Animals that are in other
> > parts of the book or library. Not so with a rank-less system since
> > Insecta could mean any part of the hierarchy from populations to all
> > life. It makes no exclusive statement without a rank or without a
> > phylogeny at hand.
> * I'm not sure what I'm being misunderstood as saying here - all I'm
> proposing to abandon is categories - the name and taxon Insecta are
> still there, with all the rules for forming names, and all the
> relationships with super-ordinate and sub-ordianate taxa - it's just
> that I'm not saying that Insecta is a something called a "Class" -
> whatever that may mean beyond Insecta traditionally being called a
> Class.
> fred.
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Assistant Professor/Insect Systematist
ESPM--Division of Insect Biology
University of California
201 Wellman Hall
Berkeley, CA  94720-3112

Office (510)642-4296
Main office(510)642-3327
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