[Taxacom] The Reality (or not) of Species (again!)`

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at uwosh.edu
Mon Sep 15 07:40:46 CDT 2008

At 10:59 PM 9/14/2008, Curtis Clark wrote:
>My objection is to the use of "species not real" as an excuse for
>ignoring entire levels of evolutionary pattern and process.

Is anyone really advocating that?  I certainly am not.  I brought it up 
because I think too many cladists have their noses so close to the 
grindstone that they lose sight of the *reality* underlying what their 
method attempts to reflect.  In other words, it seems that the 
representation BECOMES the reality for many.  They lose sight of the living 
organisms represented by the terminal dots and the biological phenomena 
that cause those branch lengths.  Art Cronquist said something about "the 
unbridled search for truth becoming an elegant minuet," where getting a 
neat and pretty stick figure is more important than finding out what happened.

I'll be clear.  I do not advocate ignoring anything.  In fact, THAT is my 
accusation of many cladists: that they IGNORE too much reality in a 
desperate desire to make their method "work".  It's a house of cards.

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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