PhyloCode: The real problem...again

Dipteryx dipteryx at FREELER.NL
Wed Jul 9 14:51:58 CDT 2003

----- Original Message -----
From: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2003 12:42 AM
Subject: Re: PhyloCode: The real problem...again

> There are two ways to look at the situation.  One is technically - how
does it measure up as a useful system.

> The other is politically, that is, the philosophy generating it.

+ + +
A few thoughts. Politics and marketing are aspects that taxonomists are not
wellknown for excelling at (a notable exception being Linnaeus). Just look
at all the institutions (with big valuable collections) that are only just
escaping shut down, if that. It is not easy to imagine any effective counter
strategy being designed and put to work.

I suppose that when the next edition of the ICBN is finished (2006) it is
conceivable to present this in a big way as "the Code that incorporates 250
years of development, now is mature, in full bloom and accepted worldwide"
or a little more snazzy as the "the modern Vienna Code of 2006, a century
beyond the Vienna Rules of 1905".

This would be untraditional enough but if the PhyloCode makes a big splash
it may serve as a counterweight. Certainly, what with the growing number of
conserved names, it is getting to be quite a hefty volume (even though the
translations into French and German have been dropped)

Another consideration is that even though the PhyloCode may gain impetus by
being implemented, and that this impetus may be used for 'evil' purposes
("conquest") rather than scientific ones, still this would also mean that it
needs to generate something of substance to maintain this impetus. This
field of Codes is notorious for being boggy ground. When it comes to
accepting new names the world proves to be slow on the uptake with very many
people (of the general public) sticking to the names they were first taught.
In practice it is not exceptional to see a 30 year-old name change or
cleared-up misidentification striking many people as "new". So, I find it
hard to imagine that the PhyloCode will be able to keep building impetus in
this notorious morass. I imagine there are many parts of the world where
even the mere idea of a PhyloCode has not registered at all.

This is not to say I am not worried, but actual implementation may have the
effect that the proponents of the PhyloCode get themselves involved with
getting it to tick and with solving the problems it raises and thus may not
have time for "conquest". Also, maybe we will find out what the PhyloCode is
worth in practice.

Paul van Rijckevorsel
Utrecht, NL

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