[Taxacom] whatever happened to cladistics

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Tue Nov 4 07:14:46 CST 2008


In the September 2007 issue of "The Systematist" (Quo Vadis: Whatever
happened to cladistics?) David Williams argues that the widespread
practice of utilizing character matrices that contain data with no
theory until one is applied via a computer program has in effect turned
cladistics into phenetics. He presents an example of how the
distribution of such character states analyzed through mathematical
programs can generate non-existent nodes - i.e. nodes that do not exist
in the original data. He also suggests that characters treated in this
way to not represent shared derived characters, but simple similarities
or phenetics. I hope I have not misrepresented his argument, but it
seems to me to reflect in some ways my earlier concerns about the nature
of molecular analyses - that they are in practice numerical phenetics.

 

John Grehan 

 

Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science

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email: jgrehan at sciencebuff.org

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372

 

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