[Taxacom] RE revisiting patronym auctions

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Aug 15 11:22:24 CDT 2008

One quick response...

G.B. Edwards wrote:

>You better be darn sure your new taxon is new, because if you
>receive thousands of dollars for it, and it gets synonymized, not only
>will you probably have to give the money back, but there could be
>lawsuits from the donor, and lawsuits between the describer and
>synonymizer, etc., etc. etc. (love that phrase from the King and I).

Since synonymy is subjective, you could never issue such a money-back 
guarantee - a synonym *can* be reversed, or debated. In plain fact, 
since names that are synonyms still appear in print every time a 
catalog or checklist or revision appears, the sponsor is STILL being 
immortalized. Synonyms don't *vanish*.

>And to Alexander: while I think you mean well, it seems to me that it is
>the employed taxonomists who are most likely to be the most altruistic.
>Their livelihood depends on cooperation with other specialists and
>institutions.  The greedy capitalists are most likely to be the
>unscrupulous profiteers who don't work as taxonomists, are not willing
>to follow the rules, or even care if their new species are valid.

Actually, Alexander was taking a page out of Jonathan Swift's book 
(i.e., "A Modest Proposal") and satirizing our concerns to highlight 
how truly stupid he feels them to be. Just like Swift was not 
actually endorsing the eating of babies, Mr. Pope was not endorsing 
banning taxonomists from naming species. Besides which, some of the 
most egregious offenses in modern taxonomy have been perpetrated by 
people who are professional taxonomists, while there are conversely 
many "amateurs" who do phenomenal work. I would hope that both you 
and Mr. Pope would prefer to judge a person's qualifications as a 
taxonomist by the quality of their taxonomy, and not by how they earn 
their paycheck.


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314        skype: dyanega
phone: (951) 827-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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