[Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at uwosh.edu
Wed Jul 26 08:29:02 CDT 2006

At 08:22 AM 7/26/2006, Mary Barkworth wrote:
>My message to students is somewhat different from Tom's: Classifications
>are for humans (I sometimes add computers). Humans like neat boxes. They
>aid us in communication and summarizing our ideas. Plants do what plants
>do.  [I am a botanist].  Sometimes what they do frustrates the goals of
>humans. That is life.  Yes, I do talk also about principles of
>classification and the like, so we get into testing predictions of a
>classification, but the bottom line is that classification is by humans
>for humans. Sometimes it will be frustrated by biological reality.

I'm not sure that's really any different.  My "Classifications Are 
Hypotheses" admonition carries the same implicit idea, in as much as 
hypotheses are human constructs we use to understand the world around 
us.  We both do not pretend there is any objective reality to our 
classifications.  I do not think anything above the level of populations is 
"real," and even populations can be very very nebulous.

Tom Lammers
Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and 
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous
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