[Taxacom] Molecular data and synapomorphies

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Thu Dec 4 07:21:03 CST 2008

I wrote that in the context of the data being generated for a particular
purpose. If philosophers don't like the wording then I'm ok with


John Grehan



From: J. Kirk Fitzhugh [mailto:kfitzhug at nhm.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 8:57 PM
To: John Grehan
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Molecular data and synapomorphies


John Grehan wrote: 

Perhaps so, but whether the data are capable of answering the same
question is, for me, the critical problem. If sequence data only provide
measures of overall similarity (with or without parsimony) then it would
appear that it cannot address phylogeny in the same way as cladistic
morphological data.

"Data" don't answer questions.  The data are what stimulate one to ask
questions. Sequence data do not provide "measures of overall
similarity." Sequences are effects in need of explanation no less than
"morphological data." Even the philosophers of science you want to idly
chide know that.


J. Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
Curator of Polychaetes
Invertebrate Zoology Section
Research & Collections Branch
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007
Phone: 213-763-3233
FAX: 213-746-2999
e-mail: kfitzhug at nhm.org

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