methods, implementations, passion

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Mar 24 14:55:54 CST 2004

Hi Nico,

Very thoughtful and insightful stuff!  Thanks!  But as with Robin, I'm not
sure, exactly, where it is we disagree.  I guess my primary (ongoing) theme
is that the shortcomings of Linnaean nomenclature as a tool to communicate
detailed phylogenetic relationships (ranks, multinomials, traditions
favoring stability, etc.) are becoming ever more apparent as different
"camps" argue about how such names should be applied, and what scope of
information is assumed to be implied by them.  As I said previously, I
support equally the value of both the "naturalist"-style (stability-craving)
nomenclatual system of Linnaeus, and the value of investigating phylogenetic
affinities using objective scientific methods.  Where I seem to differ from
a lot of folks is the extent to which I see these two endeavors as having
grown to be substantatively different from each other; to the point where
they are both struggling for "control" over the same system of nomenclature.
I agree with Robin that the "problem" is not with the naming system, but
more the current gaps in knowledge that lead to imperfect congruency between
phylogeny and nomenclature.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Nico Mario Franz
> Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2004 11:28 AM
> Subject: methods, implementations, passion
> Hi Rich!
>    I'm giving in to what may be a feature (of some) within our community
> (if that exists) and overemphasize my miniscule disagreements with you,
> while totally ignoring the overwhelming agreement.
>    The somewhere-in-the-room notion that, when I took Kevin Nixon's
> "Phylogenetic Systematics" class at Cornell and learned how to use his
> program WinClada, along with reading mid-80s volumes of Cladistics, I
> ALSO became a (more?) "difficult to deal with" person - is actually
> more worthy of an attacker than of someone being attacked. There are
> METHODS, and then there is a wide range in practice from rigid,
> dogmatic, to flexible, tradition-accommodating ways to IMPLEMENT those
> methods.
>    It's a non sequitur that by using WinClada I also had to enter
> confrontation-mode with most of my colleagues. I didn't. Articles and
> textbooks may mix those issues up on occasion, but an individual
> researcher should be given the benefit of the doubt. We expect no less
> from others.
>    Maybe something like a distinction of (1) being passionate about
> organisms vs. (2) being passionate (to dogmatic) about methods would be
> more helpful. Can we all team up against organism-disinterested, yet
> one-rigid-method-enforcing "systematists"? My guess would be "no" since
> "we" can't seem to team up against anything, other than ourselves of
> course ;-)
> Nico Franz

More information about the Taxacom mailing list