paraplaying (and bullies)

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Thu Apr 8 10:35:24 CDT 2004

"Frederick W. Schueler" wrote:
I think it's too bad phenetics didn't attach itself to cladistics at an

> early era, but by the time it became apparent that cladistics was going
> to succeed, perhaps the two schools had called each other so many hard
> names that a reconciliation wasn't feasible.

Historically, the "cladists" and "pheneticists" were all lumped together
under the broader category of "numerical taxonomy" and in the early days
they were quite chummy - all working on ways to develop classifications
using newly developed algorithms and discussing the philosophical bases of
classification.   I suggest that it wasn't that "phenetics didn't attach
itself to cladistics" but the other way around - cladistics wanted no part
of phenetics. The schism that occurred in the late '70s was probably
inevitable, especially in light of some of the personalities involved.

I've often wondered if one factor in the rapid rise of cladistics was the
*perceived* mathematical simplicity of constructing phylogenetic trees.  The
fundamental algorithm for constructing Wagner trees and networks, as first
developed by Farris and Kluge, was deceptively simple.  In contrast,
conducting a principal components analysis (and even some types of cluster
analyses) appeared much more daunting and, to some, far less intuitive.

For those of you who haven't read it, Peter Sneath's 1995 paper (Thirty
years of numerical taxonomy. Syst. Biol. 44: 281-298) may provide some good
insights into wht things are the way they are.


Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN 46556    |

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