[Taxacom] Economist leader addressed to taxonomists

Arthur Chapman taxacom3 at achapman.org
Fri May 18 07:29:34 CDT 2007

I just remembered seeing this article a while back

"Leech Imposters could skew decades of research" 

Sounds like the sort of thing we are talking about.  To quote the first 

/In the slimiest and perhaps costliest case of mistaken identity in 
modern biology, hundreds of scientific papers and years of research 
could be thrown into doubt, for they may have been based on experiments 
carried out on the wrong leech.

Australian Biodiversity Information Services
Toowoomba, Australia

Fabian Haas wrote:
> BioNet International and the German National Focal Point for the GTI 
> have collected cases studies where exact taxonomic work saved millions 
> Euros, and also People from starvation. This might be worthwile to to 
> include, and shows that dealing with minute differences is not a waste 
> of time.
> EoL: good to here that publicity will increase, but still think it is a 
> good idea to pay contents provider and not only the computer people. 
> Somehow, content providers get less and less payed, eg images in portals 
> and journal are all to often not paid, but the journal dont come fro 
> free anyway...
> Fabian
> Roderic Page wrote:
>> 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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>> ----------------------------------------
>> Professor Roderic D. M. Page
>> Editor, Systematic Biology
>> Graham Kerr Building
>> University of Glasgow
>> Glasgow G12 8QP
>> United Kingdom
>> Phone: +44 141 330 4778
>> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
>> email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
>> web: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
>> iChat: aim://rodpage1962
>> reprints: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/pubs.html
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>> Rod's rants on phyloinformatics: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
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