Understanding evolution problems

Michael Ivie mivie at GEMINI.OSCS.MONTANA.EDU
Thu Mar 4 14:59:48 CST 2004

Those were not young turks (defined as revolutionaries that take over the
farm and make a success of it), for they never gained actual widespread
followings, they are more like Croizat that Hennig. (I actually waded
through Croizat's tomes, so I can say that)

In fact, your example shows the validity of my argument.  In all of those
cases, it was either political old fuddy duddies who imposed them,
or marginal fringe cases, rather than excited young scientists
who tested, found support, and where then

As for your other arguments, the promise of phenetics is still with us, in
cladistics.  Phenetics was the John the Baptist to Cladistics, in that it
set up the search of an algorithmic, refutable paradigm. The fact that it
was not the end all be all is simply the fate of everything.  There is no
better legacy of any paradigm than to lead to the next, better one.

Your last arguments are actually all valid, but are the healthy debates
within phylogenetics.  That simply shows how current and main stream the
debate is, ever seeking improvement, and does nothing to weaken its value.


On Thu, 4 Mar 2004 Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG wrote:

> It's a warmer argument now. Good.
> There have always been more young Turks that are wrong than those who were
> right. Hopeful monster new paradigms include those of Lysensko, Velekovsky,
> Madame Blavatsky, and the like, remember those? all of which gain followers,
> all of which attract money, and all of which fail for reason.
> What happened to the phenomenal advances predicted for phenetics? chromosome
> numbers? biosystematics? They all got relegated to their proper place.
> Cladistics and statistical phylogenetics have a proper place, but right now
> they are grown way out of proportion to their actual utility.
> Eventually, it will be found that the reliability measures presently given
> to details of branch arrangements are grossly inflated. Here's why:
> Any measure of reliability, to be useful, needs to be coupled with a measure
> of risk. We are betting our science, so we want really high measures of
> reliability, like standard 95% or 99% condidence limits. The measure of
> reliability, if we are to act on it, should reflect all factors that affect
> the outcome (the particular branch arrangment of interest). Thus, the
> probability of the branch arrangment being correct must be multiplied by the
> probability of the sequence alignment being correct, and that by the
> probability of no sample error, and that by the probability of no
> differential lineage sorting, and that by the probability of each and every
> other variable and regularity assumption not affecting the result.
> With morphological data, we see Besseyan cactuses of phylogenetic trees,
> because details are vague but relationships at a distance on a tree we feel
> can bet on. I believe that the same will prove true with molecular data: we
> have more Besseyan cactuses of relationships. This is not bad since we can
> use the probability of the morphological arrangment being correct as a
> Bayesian prior for the probability of the molecular arrnagement if the same
> being correct, and increase the measure of reliability. This may sometimes
> happen.
> Of course some relationships and branch arrangements are accepted or are
> uncontroversial. True advances are made by demonstrating the reliability of
> new results involving problematic relationships or branch arrangements. I
> have see little of this in the phylogenetic literature to date.
> I will repeat here on Taxacom that in order to scientifically contradict or
> at least put in proper perspective the rather arrogant arguments of a
> phylogeneticist, you have pretty much become one.
> ______________________
> Richard H. Zander
> Bryology Group
> Missouri Botanical Garden
> PO Box 299
> St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
> richard.zander at mobot.org <mailto:richard.zander at mobot.org>
> Voice: 314-577-5180
> Fax: 314-577-9595
> Websites
> Bryophyte Volumes of Flora of North America:
> http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
> Res Botanica:
> http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/resbot/index.htm
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Ivie [mailto:mivie at GEMINI.OSCS.MONTANA.EDU]
> Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2004 1:43 PM
> Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Understanding evolution problems
> This delightful discussion recapitulates those of the Scala naturae
> adherents that objected to the errors in Lamarck's discovery of evolution,
> the Earth Centered group that objected to the fad of Galilean mobilists,
> the Flat Earth League, the stabilist diatribes against the crazies
> that proposed continental drift, and those that objected to complex cords
> in Baroque music.  All of these and many other deadenders died expecting
> to have everyone come back to their view while the young turks burned in
> hell.  In the end all these r eactionary "controversies" were solved the
> same way this one will -- eventually all the fuddy duddies living
> in past will die off, and everyone will laugh that they ever existed.
> Whenever a group of young turks (in this case, phylogenetisists) overturn
> an established apple cart (the Mayrian "evolutionary" taxonomists and
> Pheneticists), there is a predictable objection from the old guard, and
> always a few of the next generation who hang on to the old ideas for some
> reason or other (invested, slow, lack of imagination, viserally
> conservative, intellectually infelxible, or whatever).  This is how
> science has and always will progress.  However, when someone finds
> themselves in this situation, they should really reexamine their stance.
> We can use the examples of our greatest scientists to find our way.  Look
> at Charles Michener, who moved beyond the point where he was invested,
> into the new and superior paradigm that replaced the old one, and is
> universally revered.
> As I teach it, good taxonomists are very, very valuable, but not all
> good taxonomists are systematists.  Some good systematists are not good
> taxonomists.  However, all real modern systematists are phylogeneticists.
> Not all phylogeneticists are strict cladists.  For instance, my optimal
> solution is a monophyletic classification, but I recognize that if the
> sister-group of all the rest of life is a single species, and single
> species cannot by themselves constitute a monophyletic group, then the
> rules need to be bent to make it work.  I do teach that there are other
> views, and that they are wrong.
> And Dr. Greham, If all the really smart people reviewing your proposal
> think it is bunk, perhaps it is not they that are wrong?  So says Occam's
> razor.  Parsimony may not always be right, but it is worth thinking about.
> Remember, evolutionary studies show that pathways that only take root and
> diversify in isolation on small isolated islands are not usually very well
> adapted when placed into global competition.  They should be maintained
> as examples of a different path, and valued as examples of evolutionary
> diversity, but never confused with something really useful.
> Our system of reviews by NSF and other granting agencies have proven very
> good at rewarding successful paradigm challenges, and also very good at
> recognizing bunk.  There are rare exceptions, but the exceptions prove the
> rule.
> OK, let the attacks begin.
> Mike

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