[Taxacom] Economist leader addressed to taxonomists

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Fri May 18 04:15:23 CDT 2007


So, once again taxonomist's heckles are raised, and the response is  
"they don't understand how important we are!", "we don't have enough  
money!", etc.

Is this the best way to respond, especially to this audience (leaving  
aside the issue of whether the article was justified or not)?

Why not think about responding in terms the audience might  
appreciate? I wonder, for example, whether there are parallels  
between biologists making bad decisions based on misunderstanding  
relationships between organisms, and business failing because their  
supposedly homogeneous target market of, say, "teenagers", turned out  
to be highly heterogeneous (niche marketing, anyone?).

One could even draw parallels with recent foreign policy decisions,  
based an appalling lack of understanding that "muslims" are not a  
homogeneous category.

Complaining about money is a bit of a hard sell, given that EoL has  
been launched to such fanfare. Yes, I know it's not money for people  
in the trenches, but to have major charities committing money, flashy  
videos, and $US 100,000 promotion campaign (albeit "in kind"), and   
don't you think Economist readers will wonder what taxonomists are  
complaining about...

Regards

Rod



On 18 May 2007, at 09:35, Maarten Christenhusz wrote:

>
> Dear all,
>
> In reactoin to this article in the Economist, I think we would do  
> well to write a counter article from a variety of taxonomic fields  
> (both plants and animals, macro and micro organisms) to explain to  
> the Economist how important taxonomy is, what the differences are  
> from systematics and conservation biology, that taxonomy is the  
> basis of all biological studies, and that we are heavily  
> underfunded, probably because the discipline is heavily  
> misunderstood by the wider public. I would be very willing to  
> participate in this, but as a vascular plant scientist, my  
> knowledge on primates and the microbial world is limited. Shall we  
> write a counter article on taxonomy to the Economist? Who's with me?
>
> Maarten Christenhusz
> Dept. of Biology, sect. Biodiversity
> University of Turku
> 20014 Turku
> Finland
> www.botanyphotos.net
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Barry Roth <barry_roth at yahoo.com>
> Date: Friday, May 18, 2007 7:34 am
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Economist leader addressed to taxonomists
>
>> Thank you for the cheering example of a much better researched
>> article -- including the revelation that Prof. Daniel Brooks makes
>> phenetic ("magnitude of difference") judgments regarding the rank
>> of taxa he deals with.
>>
>>  Barry Roth
>>
>> "Frederick W. Schueler" <bckcdb at istar.ca> wrote:
>>
>> * well, here's a less ignorant take from a mainstream newspaper:
>>
>> Subject: Press: The Trouble With Taxonomy
>> Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 10:27:11 -0400
>> From:
>> To:
>>
>>
>> ---------------------------------
>> Get your own web address.
>> Have a HUGE year through Yahoo! Small Business.
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>
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Professor Roderic D. M. Page
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