[Taxacom] consensus [encyclopedia of life]

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sat May 12 12:56:41 CDT 2007

Dear All,
     Actually we reached a consensus classification on this subject many 
decades ago.  A paraphyletic Family Pongidae (great apes) giving rise to 
Family Hominidae.   It was the attempts to excessively split or lump them 
that has resulted in a cladistic Babel.  That's why I have stuck with the 
stable consensus classification, and I simply ignore the many different 
"cladifications" various workers have come up with.

    It is much easier to view the debates as being over which clade (genus 
or group of genera) within Pongidae is the sister group of Hominidae.  There 
is probably no clearer case where "cladifications" have created confusion 
and actually hindered communication (a military man might well label them 
"fubar" taxonomy).
   -----Ken Kinman
P.S.  Also, I'm pretty sure a separate family for hominids probably also 
makes the creationists feel a little less threatened, whereas dumping chimps 
into genus Homo is an unnecessary provocation (especially since many 
taxonomists view it as excessive lumping anyway).

>From: Peter Stevens <peter.stevens at mobot.org>
>To: Thomas Lammers <lammers at uwosh.edu>
>CC: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
>Date: Sat, 12 May 2007 10:24:59 -0500
>There is another aspect of classifications and consensus - which is
>as much social in the broad sense, rather than simply political, OK,
>all phylogenies are hypotheses, and some are better supported than
>others.  However, given extremely strong support for a particular
>phylogeny, perhaps Pongo as sister to Homo as Grehan would like, such
>that we could ALL link arms and walk off into the sunset in mutual
>agreement and admiration, we still have to reach consensus about the
>classification based on the phylogeny, or, with the phylocode, the
>names  that are in general use .  If we don't have this consensus, we
>have Babel. There might be nothing stopping the combination Pongo
>For a consensus f the kind about which I am talking, it isn't about
>science, it is about aspects of the communication of science. I
>realise there are different philosophies of classification, but this
>issue transcends particular philosophies
>On May 12, 2007, at 8:20 AM, Thomas Lammers wrote:
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: John Grehan <jgrehan at sciencebuff.org>
> >
> >> Consensus is a political concept concerning the belief systems of
> >> the participants.
> >> Sometimes consensus is used in place of "majority". These become very
> >> troubling standards to introduce into taxonomy, especially when
> >> creationists are regularly accused of being non-scientific. When
> >> there
> >> is no single standardized taxonomy the issue of politics is less
> >> acute,although it has already emerged with the tree of life.
> >
> > Those are indeed valid concerns.
> >
> > At the same time, I think it is axiomatic that "classifications are
> > hypotheses."  They are not final answers, they all stand pro
> > tempore.  As such, a hypothesis arrived at via concensus is as
> > useful, pro tem, as any other.  The important thing is to be honest
> > about status.
> >
> > Tom Lammers
> >
> > _______________________________________________

PC Magazine’s 2007 editors’ choice for best Web mail—award-winning Windows 
Live Hotmail. 

More information about the Taxacom mailing list