[Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 25 21:45:42 CDT 2006

     I certainly agree that recent classification trends display a 
disconcerting amount of "monomania".  You could apply this term to some 
examples of excessive dependence on molecular data (which has its own set of 
homoplasy problems), and even more so to the monomania of destroying 
perfectly natural paraphyletic groups to create holophyletic (strictly 
"monophyletic") groups that can have marginal utility beyond those "ivory 
tower" thinkers who think paraphyletic groups are somehow bad or unnatural.

     The Kinman System was clearly created to throw out the obvious bath 
water without resorting to the excesses of strict cladism, thus retaining 
the advances of cladistic trends but not throwing out the baby (the Linnaean 
System and paraphyletic taxa that have stood the test of time).  Phylocode 
and it purist pursuit of least inclusive units is the result of strict 
cladistics, NOT of cladistic thinking in general.  You can be a cladistic 
thinker without restricting it to the monomania of "strictly" cladistic 
thinking.  Then we can make progress creating a 21st Century "New Synthesis" 
that will go beyond a minority of extremists who give "ivory towers" a bad 
   ---Ken Kinman
P.S.  On the other side of the coin, I think John Grehan takes the opposite 
extreme of trashing molecular data without offering any molecular data which 
supports his orangutan theory.  That's not a healthy approach either.  The 
two extremes of great ape phylogeny and classification can continue to slug 
it out for the next 20 years as far as I am concerned.  Either way, a 
traditional (paraphyletic) Pongidae will absorb any changes quite easily 
using something along the lines of my coding system.

>From: Thomas Lammers <lammers at uwosh.edu>
>To: "D. Christopher Rogers" <crogers at ecoanalysts.com>
>CC: Taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile
>Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 20:04:05 -0500
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "D. Christopher Rogers" <crogers at ecoanalysts.com>
> > The traditional Linnaean classifications provide us with the means of 
>understanding the ecology of the habitats we study. ... There is an 
>international bioassessment industry (I work all over the
>world), borne of the desire for clean water, clean soil and clean air, as 
>well as natural and restored wildlife habitat, that relies on Linnaean 
>taxonomy. Therefore, to those of us who work in this field much of
>cladistics (Phyllocode and Least Inclusive Taxonomic Units) are of little 
>use, and to some of us in this industry represent "ivory tower thinking".  
>To support the point that I think Tom Lammers was making,
>organisms are a function of their environment. Their taxonomy, in terms of 
>their  biology and
>ecology, are of far greater significance to the general public who wants 
>clean water, clean air, and a healthy environment. If you take an organism 
>out of its environment, and reduce it to a mere terminus on a
>line, you may risk losing everything that made it what it is.<
>Exactly.  Thank you.  So much of what passes as systematics today just 
>seems so divorced from reality.  If we are to have credibility in the 
>future, it is essential that we keep biology in our classifications.  I've 
>written before (Syst. Bot. 1999) about the monomania of molecular 
>phylogenetics that has seized our discipline.  Nothing in the last seven 
>years has changed my opinion.
>Tom Lammers
>Taxacom mailing list
>Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu

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