Molecular taxonomy, etc.

Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU
Thu Jul 21 18:36:05 CDT 2005

The current thread on this topic is, like many before it, a perfect example of the confusion caused by not distinguishing between "character" and "character state". I hate to point the finger, John Grehan, but you are the prime offender - and your confusion renders a lot of your statements nonsense. For instance, how does one set up a data matrix that contains only derived states (NOT characters). Do you leave all the cells blank for what you believe to be primitive states, or enter some dummy symbol, or what? Indeed, John, have you EVER made a data matrix? And have you never grasped that most cladistic algorithms do not - and cannot - consider polarities. Without further input they provide an UNROOTED tree. If a designated outgroup was input, its point of attachment might then provide a respectable estimate for the root; one might then read off plesio- and apomorphies ad lib. Of course, the tree is - as cladists love to stress - just a best-supported hypothesis; although it seems often to mutate to God's Truth a few pages on.

I am, by the way, not available for debate on the currently accepted terminology for characters, states, etc.

Don Colless,
Div of Entomology, CSIRO,
GPO Box 1700,
Canberra. 2601.
Email: don.colless at
Tuz li munz est miens envirun

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