names vs. "names"

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Wed Feb 9 09:41:58 CST 2005

First, thanks to Charles Hussey for making the point much more eloquently
than I did (I should have looked through all of my email before sending my

Second, apologies to Paul van Rijckevorsel for the somewhat abrasive tone of
my last email -- I made the mistake of logging on soon after awaking from a
night of insufficient sleep, in the midst of trying to get kids to school on
time; and my reply was written in too much haste, and was more terse than I
would have liked it to have been.

and now:

> > so I think that we have to accept that odd names will be
> around on-line for ever. Try a search on Google for known mis-spelling of
> taxonomic names - they are out there,
> ***
> In fact they are extremely common. If you want a challenge you
> should search
> for a scientific name that is more commonly misspelled than correctly
> spelled. It does happen.
> * * *
> and will be difficult to eradicate.
> ***
> Make that: "impossible to eradicate"
> * * *

*EXACTLY*  Now...imagine a world where ALL the names (bogus and otherwise)
are indexed somewhere.  And imagine that the folks at Google are plugged
into that index (not unreasonable, given the recent development of  In that world, a single search on Google will yield
links to all the relevant information about a taxon, regardless of how
incorrect the taxon name had been.  Moreover, the search of a bogus name
will provide the searcher with a correction (i.e., "Did you mean 'Aus

We can't get there without an index that maps the bogus names to the good
names.  And we can't build such an index without first having a list of the
bogus names.

> > If you wish to get at all available information relating to an organism,
> ***
> I'd rather have the relevant information and eliminate the "white noise"
> * * *

A bad name does not necessarily mean bad information attached to that bad
name.  There is more to biology than nomenclature.


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