Clades, cladons, and "cladifications"

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Jun 12 21:11:19 CDT 2004

Erast Parmasto wrote:
     Has the term _fuzzily phylogenetic systematics_  not
yet been used for the non-strictly phylogenetic
     Well, given the fact that species (and also the higher taxa which contain them) are inevitably fuzzy at the edges, a little fuzziness isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But even I have complained that many pre-cladistic classifications were overly fuzzy (some badly so).

      Of course, The Kinman System (1994) was published to provide improved eclectic methodologies which minimize fuzziness, but still retain the advantages of dualistic eclecticism (e.g., stability, practicality, usefulness, inclusion of evolutionary-distance information, plus a new, more precise presentation of limited paraphyly).

     David Hull in his 1979 paper ("Limits of Cladism"; Syst. Zool., 28:416-440) pointed out the following dilemma: "no methods have been set out thus far which permit the inclusion of both sorts of information [genealogy and divergence] in a single classification in such a way that both are retrievable."  I guess you could call this a "fuzziness" problem.  The Kinman System solves Hull's dilemma, providing a new synergistic union of cladistic and eclectic methods (keeping the best of both and eliminating the bad stuff).

     Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult overcoming 35 years of warring between strict cladists and traditional eclecticists.  The bad feelings and mistrust are an impediment to adopting a middle ground approach, but it will happen in time (I can see no alternative in the long run).  Perhaps the PhyloCode will actually hasten this process, but it will probably do so by generating a taxonomic quagmire that will be very difficult to repair.  That's why I have tried to be proactive, but as usually happens, it will probably follow the more expensive, confusing and drawn out path of procrastination and finally a strong reactive reversal (as the pendulum is suddenly jerked in the opposite direction).   The PhyloCode conference in Paris this summer is the next step in this doom and gloom scenario, and it makes me very nervous.  But even if there were no phylocode, the elimination of paraphyletic taxa is not (and never was) the proper way to fight eclectic fuzziness.  Hennig should have stuck with cladistic analysis (which has been a good thing, even though not always properly applied).  His classification methods have NOT been a good thing, and an increasingly zealous application of such methods are just making things worse.
           ----- Not so cheerily,
                           Ken Kinman

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