[Taxacom] Why character-tracking doesn't happen?

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at uwosh.edu
Fri Sep 12 07:30:03 CDT 2008

At 05:46 AM 9/12/2008, Pierre Deleporte wrote:
>Bob Mesibov wrote:
> > There were no serious nibbles at the bait I dangled here recently on
> > character-tracking, i.e. investigating apparent homoplasy as a way to
> > evaluate the plausibility of a phylogenetic hypothesis.

The main problem of course is that cladistic methodology is such a poor 
reflection of how evolution operates in nature.  It assumes that the 
entities evolving are discrete units rather than aggregations of 
individuals and populations; it assumes evolution is always dichotomous and 
that reticulation never occurs.  Add on to that unsubstantiated a priori 
assumptions like "paraphyly is bad" and "sister taxa have equal rank" and 
it becomes a real house of cards.

Study what a population geneticist says about evolution, then study what a 
cladist says about evolution, and you'll be hard pressed to accept they are 
describing the same phenomenon.

News flash: The emperor has no clothes!

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at uwosh.edu
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and 
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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