Real Species

Roger roger at HYAM.NET
Fri Apr 16 04:19:11 CDT 2004

>Maybe we should just use the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to
>designate species -- it's impossible to "pinpoint" (describe) what
>a species is, because describing it forces it to change .....

Many a true word....

If we are thinking of species as hypotheses then "a species exists until it
is proved not to exist" is actually quite a good notion. Thus some
taxonomist says "This is a species -> "  and presents supporting evidence.
Other taxonomists test the theory (by using the definition and seeing if
other specimens and data fit the pattern). If the hypothesis holds then it
holds and we carry on. If it falls then we declare the species never to have
existed in the first place - to be an error.

We can't know if a species is real until we don't prove that it is not real.
Seeing as time can be thought of as infinite for taxonomists we will never
know that we, one day, won't prove the species to be "unreal".

The question of whether a species is real or not can therefore never be
answered and it's status should be regarded as mu (or null). Just like
Schrödinger's cat. We can't know if it is alive or dead without opening the
box but in our case we never get to open the box. (The cat's state is
probably 'mew' rather that mu :) )

For me, then, the debate of whether species are real or not seems to fall
into the realm of un-answerable questions. "Realness" is not a useful
quality to use in this debate.

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