Consensus (end paraphyletic "Prohibition")

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Thu Mar 23 12:13:47 CST 2006

I would disagree with Ken suggestion that describing people as Ivory
Tower types is not different from criticizing the science itself. The
former is making an assertion about the state of mind of the individuals
rather than their science. It would be like me saying that my molecular
colleagues are Ivory Tower types simply because I disagree with their
approach. In science it really does not matter about one's state of mind
- it's the science that counts. 

Consensus building is a purely socio-political device and it can be used
to promote political agendas that are not really about consensus.
Science is either right or wrong regardless of consensus. There might be
a public 'consensus' against evolution based on sociological principles,
for example, but that has no bearing on the scientific quality of
evolution itself.

As for cladists having "given little or no thought to how this would
affect their taxonomist colleagues or non-taxonomist biologists", they
are probably no different in this respect than anyone else - if it were
true (and I doubt anyone could quantify and verify such an assertion

John Grehan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Ken Kinman
> Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 11:46 AM
> Subject: [TAXACOM] Consensus (end paraphyletic "Prohibition")
> Curtis,
>       It is no more a slur than them saying that those who use
> paraphyletic taxa are practicing bad science and/or erecting
> unscientific groupings.  Trouble is that the most aggressive of those
> Ivory Tower types appear to have given little or no thought to how
> would affect their taxonomist colleagues or non-taxonomist biologists
> (much less the "masses", and even they deserve some consideration).
>     No, they plunged ahead like a bunch of Carrie Nations and thought
> total "Prohibition" would solve the problem of inexplicit paraphyly.
> Well, it didn't work for alcohol, and there is good evidence that a
> bit now and then is good for you if you're not prone to alcoholism.
> Therefore, I think that the time to repeal "Paraphyletic Prohibition"
> way overdue.  So yeah, I guess you could say I have an axe to grind,
> only against those who stand in the way of real consensus building
> have the gall to say we are erecting unnatural taxa and practicing bad
> science).  And don't forget that a paraphyletic group containing an
> {{exgroup}} marker is effectively a holophyletic group in an
> sense, so it's not like I am a reactionary who wants to return to the
> old days of inexplicit paraphyly.
>   -----Ken Kinman
> *********************************************************
> Curtis wrote:
> This is a slur.  It marks you for what you are, not a
> but rather someone with an axe to grind. A lot of those "Ivory Tower
> types" have embraced monophyly because it fits best with the new facts
> about actual organisms that they discovered and published.
> --

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