[Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Sun May 13 08:32:50 CDT 2007

I would agree that within an individual research program there has to be
consensus or there would be no result. Thus the evidence for Pongo +
Homo represents a consensus of those who support that phylogeny. I
suppose that while Jeff Schwartz was the only person to support that
evidence there was no consensus even for that research program since
there was no agreement between two or more individuals. Now that there
are at least two people supporting that evidence we represent a
particular consensus. But since others disagree over the evidence there
is no overall consensus.

John Grehan 

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Dick Jensen
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 9:25 AM
To: Peter Stevens
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Peter Stevens and Tom Lammers make good points.  In fact, aren't even
our best theories, as well as our best working hypotheses, based on
consensus?  John Grehan's argument for a Pongo + Homo classification is
based on the view that there is a consensus of key characters that
support this linkage.  Consensus does play an important role in science.

Dick J

Richard Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556

tel: 574-284-4674

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Stevens <peter.stevens at mobot.org>
To: Thomas Lammers <lammers at uwosh.edu>
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Sat, 12 May 2007 11:24:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] encylopedia of life [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

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 sapiens...

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
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