Predictivity vs Useful

Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG
Mon Feb 14 10:45:08 CST 2005

I wonder if the reverse is true, that predictivity informs us about shared
ancestry? I also wonder if the imperfect methods of generating optimal trees
coupled with imperfect ideas of predictivity might lead us far astray. Lots
of work to be done on this, even after 30 years of cladism.

Richard H. Zander
Bryology Group
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
richard.zander at <mailto:richard.zander at>
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-----Original Message-----
From: Barry Roth [mailto:barry_roth at YAHOO.COM]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 10:30 AM
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Predictivity vs Useful

Does anyone seriously doubt that, because of the fact of organic evolution,
classification that maximizes predictivity will be the one most fully based
genealogy/phylogeny?  For a given clade that is rich in homoplasy,
of the distribution of unanalyzed or undiscovered characters will be more
chancey than in "better-behaved" clades, but this is true regardless of the
basis used for its classification.

I'm not sure why I would want to classify things to begin with,* unless I
thought I could get out of the classification more than I put into it -- and
this implies predictivity.  Therefore the search for the optimal
involves the search for the truest estimate of phylogeny.  At this moment in
history, the best tool kit happens to be the protocols of cladistic

Barry Roth

*The comfort or convenience of how I arrange taxa in my specimen drawers or
mental file cabinet are surely trivial in this respect, no matter how it may
pain a taxonomist to say so.

--- Ken Kinman <kinman2 at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

>      The goal should NOT be to simply maximize predictivity (at the
> of other uses), but to maximize the overall level of usefulness.

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